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Double Double-Bye

By Jamison Cook | February 21
Double Double-Bye
Notre Dame point guard Olivia Miles shoots against Boston College

Both the Notre Dame men's and women's basketball teams are in position to secure the coveted double bye in the ACC Tournament

Both the Notre Dame men’s and women’s basketball teams have had phenomenal regular seasons thus far, but a lot can happen with a few conference games remaining on the schedule. For the first time in a few years, both teams find themselves in desirable positions as the season winds down. Both the men and women have the opportunity to earn the coveted double bye in the ACC Tournament, meaning that neither team would have to play until the third day of conference tournament play.

For the women’s team, who currently sit at No. 14 in the AP Poll, the path to the 3rd or 4th seed in the ACC Tournament is relatively straightforward. The Irish are 12-4 in the ACC, making them tied for third with Virginia Tech, whom they beat by a score of 68-55 back on Feb. 3rd. Notre Dame trails just Louisville (14-2) and NC State (16-1) in the ACC standings, but with only two regular season games left, it is unlikely that the Irish will catch either of these teams.

The women’s team plays their last two games at home in Purcell Pavilion, a place where they are 12-0 on the season. A Feb. 24th matchup with Clemson – who is 3-13 in the ACC – should definitely result in a win, but the season finale against Louisville will present a challenge for the Irish. The Cardinals are vulnerable as they just lost to UNC, but they have just three losses on the season and will do their best to spoil Notre Dame’s perfect home record.

However, the Irish should be able to hang on to that third seed in the ACC as Virginia Tech plays middle-of-the-pack Miami before hosting conference-leading NC State in the season finale. Unless the Hokies can pull off the improbable against the Wolfpack, that loss should prove enough to allow the Notre Dame women’s team to head into the ACC Tournament as the number three seed and with the all-important double bye. Either way, Notre Dame is a top 15 team right now, and a good performance in the ACC Tournament will keep them as a top 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which would allow them to host the first and second rounds here in South Bend.

With freshman point guard Olivia Miles and center Maya Dodson leading the way for Niele Ivey’s team, this is a group that should take care of business at home and move forward in the Tournament. They might not be national championship contenders this year, but this team can make it to the Elite Eight.

On the men’s side, the Irish once again control their own fate. Notre Dame - who is 12-4 in ACC play - has four conference games remaining in the regular season, with three of them at home in Purcell Pavilion. The men’s team 11-1 at home, with the lone loss coming at the hands of Duke on Jan. 31st. The Irish have been very good at Purcell, and they should be able to protect their home court against subpar Syracuse, Georgia Tech, and Pitt teams down the stretch. Winning these three games would all but guarantee Notre Dame the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament as they have the tiebreaker over both Miami and UNC, who sit just behind them in the standings at 11-5.

The game at Florida State worries me, as Notre Dame has struggled on the road, but the Irish have put themselves in position to earn the double bye in the ACC Tournament and qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017 no matter the outcome of this game. They have largely taken care of business by winning the games they are supposed to win, and the veteran, experienced roster has been on display throughout the season. Barring a complete collapse down the stretch, I think this is the year that they finally make it back to the Big Dance. Mike Brey has the team playing well defensively and limiting turnovers. Behind the scoring of Blake Wesley, the timely shooting of Dane Goodwin, and the quiet dominance of Paul Atkinson Jr. on the block, this team can make some noise.

The Irish may be leagues behind Duke in the ACC, but they have proven that they are the second-best team in the conference. Notre Dame is a team that I would not like to draw in the NCAA Tournament, and the right matchups could propel them past the first weekend.

Both the men’s and women’s Notre Dame basketball programs have been in a bit of an uncharacteristic slump for the past few seasons. However, this seems to be the year that the fog is lifted. Ivey will appear in her first NCAA Tournament as a coach and Brey will have his boys back in the Big Dance. Let’s check in again after Selection Sunday.