NOTRE DAME — There wasn’t a lot of celebration around the Purcell Pavilion when Notre Dame’s name appeared in the West region of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket.
For a team that has received a bid to the NCAA tournament four years in a row, the reaction to a No. 7 seed on Selection Sunday was, as head coach Mike Brey put it, “businesslike.”
“We’re excited to show up in that bracket again,” Brey said. “I never want to take these days for granted. Our senior class hasn’t known anything but the NCAA tournament. Certainly, they’re spoiled.”
The Irish will face No. 10-seed Iowa State in the second round of the tournament on Friday, March 22, in Dayton, Ohio.
Brey sees a flash of familiarity in the Cyclones, who average 26 shots a game from behind the arc. Brey compares Iowa State to Big East foes Villanova, Marquette and Pittsburgh, teams Notre Dame went 3-1 against this year.
“We’re going to have to score some because we’re not going to shut Iowa State down,” Brey said. “We’re going to have to be really good to advance from Friday.”
Notre Dame’s spot as the third-ranked No. 7 seed comes as a mild surprise, as many bracket predictions placed Notre Dame as high as five or six. But Brey is paying no mind to numbers.
“We don’t look at the projections and think we didn’t get what we were supposed to get,” he said. “We are honored to get in. I think a seven is a pretty strong seed. We need to erase numbers next to names now and realize we’re playing Big East teams again, big-time completion.”
The biggest drama of the night came when Notre Dame’s 6-foot-9 forward Jack Cooley revealed that his girlfriend and her family are staunch Iowa State fans, though Cooley reassured that they would be cheering for the Irish on Friday.
If the Irish win Friday, they’ll play the winner of No. 2 Ohio State and No. 15 Iona.
Gonzaga took the No. 1 seed in the West region, while Louisville, Kansas and Indiana rounded out the other three top seeds.
Other state schools caught up in March Madness include No. 6 Butler in the East region — the same as Indiana — and No. 14 Valparaiso in the Midwest region.