The Fighting Irish continue their 2017-2018 season in a tournament, not the one they wanted to be in, but still a tournament.
#1 overall seed Notre Dame squares off with #8 seed Hampton in the first round of the NIT Tuesday, March 13 at Purcell Pavilion. Tip-off is set for 9:00 pm.
Tuesday’s first round matchup marks the first ever meeting between the two schools. Notre Dame has had great success against teams from the MEAC conference, overall an outstanding 5-0. Notre Dame’s last game against a team from the MEAC conference was December 4, 2016 when they Irish handily defeated North Carolina A&T 107-53.
Heating Up At The Right Time
While Hampton, on paper, does not look like the most threatening squad Notre Dame has faced this season, they have chosen the right time to start winning. The Pirates won 12 of its last 14 games including 10 in a row leading to the MEAC tournament semi-final. During this win-streak, they clinched the regular season MEAC championship outright.
Hampton has proven to be a dangerous team in the past, making the NCAA tournament in 2011, 2015, and 2016. In these same seasons, the Pirates also won the MEAC championship. Hampton has dominated their conference as of late, and led by sophomore guard Jermaine Morrow, the Pirates could test the Irish. Morrow averages an impressive 19.1 points per game, and is one the Irish defense will need to keep an eye on.
Down and Out
To compound it’s already disappointing evening, the Notre Dame squad learned that they were the “Last Team Out” of the Big Dance. The selection committee informed the Irish that Davidson took the last spot after knocking off Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 tournament championship game. After knowing you’re already out of tournament, you can bet the last thing anyone wanted to hear was that they were 1 spot away from the tournament. As legendary Notre Dame basketball broadcaster Jack Nolan put it, “Notre Dame was 69th in a 68 team field”.
Tonight could be an interesting game for the Irish as it doesn’t seem clear which team we will see. It would be very understandable if Notre Dame came out sluggish and uninterested from the disappointment of not making the NCAA tournament. However, if you have followed this ND squad all season long, you know how much adversity it has faced. Between the injuries, losing streaks, you name it; this team has gone through it. You could also see a very motivated team that is out to prove a point, and show the selection committee that they made a huge mistake.
Where Can I Watch/Listen?
Tonight’s game will be an ESPN national broadcast with Bob Wischusen and Robbie Hummel calling the game. Notre Dame vs Hampton can also be livestreamed on the WatchESPN app.
If you prefer to listen to the game on the radio, you can listen on the Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland.