Tonight, Notre Dame (23-10, 10-8) finds itself in the Big East semifinal game against West Virginia (22-10, 11-7) at Madison Square Garden.
The Irish beat heavily favored Pittsburgh last night, 50-45, before West Virginia took care of Cinncinatti, 54 -51, in the quarterfinals. The Mountaineers last squared off against the Irish back in January, falling Mike Brey’s team, 70-68. The winner will play for all Big East marbles either against eighth-seeded and 22nd-ranked Georgetown or fifth-seeded Marquette.
The Mountaineers, third-seeded and ranked sixth nationally,,are led by forward Da’Shean Butler (17.1 PPG, 6.3 REBs, 3.4 ASTs), whose game-winning three-pointer advanced the team to this round. He is complemented by bigs Kevin Jones (13.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG), and Devin Ebanks (12.3 PPG, 8.3 REB).
Notre Dame’s Lucky Shamrock, Luke Harangody, the nation’s leading scorer at 23.3 points per game, continues to deliver. He is relishing his role as a bench player in the tournament. In last night’s win over Pitt, he notched 12 points in 22 minutes, including three free-throws in the final three minutes. Three-point specialist Tim Abromaitis and solid point guard Tory Jackson have been major contributors to the team’s run in this tournament.
I predict a very close game, as a guard-oriented Notre Dame squad is matched against a forward-heavy, grinding West Virginia team. Unfortunately, the luck of the Irish may come to an end, though they will be invited to the big dance.