The wait to see if ND would make the NCAA tournament seemed interminable. The sad answer finally came Sunday.
The South Bend Tribune made it even tougher to take when it wrote:
When Davidson upset top-seeded Rhode Island to win the Atlantic 10 championship around 3:25 p.m., it forced the NCAA selection committee to eliminate one team from the at-large group. That team, said Creighton athletic director and tournament selection committee chair Bruce Rasmussen, was Notre Dame.
“They just didn’t have enough on their resume to be an at-large,” Rasmussen told TBS.
Understood, but the way this unfolded. Man, it’s hard. Really hard.
“After a season of gut punches, that was yet another gut punch,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I’m kind of proud of them, but hurting for them at the same time.
“We’ve had all kinds of things happen and on the most important day, it was a heartbreaking day. It’s a tough one to swallow.”
Rasmussen then offered another kick to the Irish gut when he revealed that the last team in the field was … Syracuse. The same Syracuse team that Notre Dame beat – at the Carrier Dome – without its two best players. Notre Dame and Syracuse finished with identical 8-10 conference records. So one league loss that could have been a win and Notre Dame would have been in. Should have been in.
The 36 at-large teams were revealed in alphabetical order on TBS, which also carried some drama. When studio host Ernie Johnson got to where the Notre Dame name should have popped up, he paused and asked the live studio audience if this was where they would see Notre Dame.
The name of Ohio State appeared, which meant Notre Dame was out.
Another gut punch.
“Next time I see him, “Brey told the Tribune of Johnson, “I’m punching him in the face.”
Oh well. I can always watch for Wisconsin or Marquette or UWM or UW-Green Bay.