NCAA Tournament Predictions: 7. Notre Dame vs. 10. Xavier

By: Kels Dayton

 7 Notre Dame (22-11, 13-5 Big East)- Head coach Mike Brey is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. The man has won three coach of the year awards in the Big East and a National coach of the year award, yet most casual college basketball fans wouldn’t recognize him if he hand-delivered them their brackets personally. Brey has done a superb job with this group, transforming a team that got blasted by missouri, 87-58 in the CBE Classic in November into a 13-win outfit in one of the toughest conferences in the country.

No, that's not Luke Harangody. It's Jack Cooley, new Irish star. (Matt Cashore/US Presswire)

The Irish rolled off 9 straight Big East wins from late-January until late-February, and were boosted by junior forward Jack Cooley, who took over as the team’s go-to-guy once senior Tim Abromaitis went down with a season-ending injury.

6-5 sophomore guard Jerian Grant added 12.3 points and 4.9 assists per game, and guard Eric Atkins stepped up to mimic that output, averaging 12.2 points and 4.1 helpers.

The Irish are tough defensively,


10th RPI

72nd Field Goal Percentage Allowed (41.2)

Stats courtesy


 10 Xavier (21-12, 10-6 Atlantic 10)- The Musketeers are making their 7th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and 10th in 11 years. Xavier had very high preseason expectations with guard Terrell “Tu” Holloway coming back, but were knocked off track when a mid-season brawl with Cincinnati forced six player suspensions.

Guard Tu Holloway (AP Photo/David Kohl)

Holloway averaged 17.0 points and 5.1 assists per game this season for the Musketeers. The senior guard is widely considered an NBA Draft prospect.

6-1 junior guard Mark Lyons held his own in the backcourt, averaging 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

Senior center Kenny Frease has size at 7-0, 275, and could be an ‘X-factor’ for Xavier in the tournament.


8-0 Record before brawl with Cincinnati

13-12 Record after brawl

93rd Points per game (71.3)



Player stats courtesy

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