Notre Dame, Virginia survive to help ACC avoid early-tourney slump

Irish sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale takes a shot in Notre Dame’s 79-61 victory over Florida State on Feb. 26 at Purcell Pavilion

AP photo Notre Dame coach Mike Brey and the rest of the Fighting Irish sweat out the closing moments of Thursday's NCAA basketball tournament first-round game against Princeton.

Well, those wishes will be realized today at 12:10 p.m. on CBS when the Old Gold and Blue and Fighting Irish tipoff against one another for the first time since the Golden Domers swept the team from Morgantown during the 2011-12 season.

"We try to compare (West Virginia) to Florida State, which we played three times", Brey said. Rex Pflueger had to have a gash above his eye glued shut during the first half but returned to play a key role in a perimeter defensive effort that held Princeton to 8 of 31 shooting from 3-point range.

Brey's team survived its first-round game 60-58, enduring a last-second 3-point miss by Princeton. After Irish guard Matt Farrell missed the front end of a one-and-one with a 59-58 lead, Princeton's Devin Cannady missed an open 3-pointer, and ND's Steve Vasturia hauled in the rebound as the Tigers' upset bid fell short. V.J. Beachem and Matt Farrell add 14.7 and 14.2 points while Farrell also tops the team in passing aspect with 5.4 assists in average.

His father John played football and baseball at Penn.

The Irish are the only team to reach the Elite Eight in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments.

Like most things in Brey's coaching philosophy, the last thing he wants to do is stress his players over the "scary prospect" of handling West Virginia's press. Perhaps at the bottom for both teams, Notre Dame, struggling through a 6-20 season, its first under Digger Phelps, and WVU, winning its first game after an automobile accident had claimed the life of Larry Harris and ended the playing career of Sam Oglesby.

The Mountaineers will take on No. 5 seed Notre Dame at 12:10 pm Saturday, who is coming off a close victory over 12th-seeded Princeton in the opening round. I will give the slight advantage to the Mountaineers just on a hunch because these two teams are pretty much equal in most of the aspects.

"We're going to turn the ball over". "That's how we were going to escape and we did escape". #14 Northeastern battled Notre Dame down to the wire with the Irish holding on for the 69-65 victory. Don't let time cloud the hype of that game, a contest between the consensus No. 1 Irish and No. 3 Mountaineers. Unfazed, sophomore Kimbal Mackenzie led the Bison with 23 points and knocked down five of his seven three-point attempts.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Trevon Bluiett scored 21 points and Sean O'Mara had 18 to help No. 11 seed Xavier upset sixth-seeded Maryland 76-65 during the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night. The No. 4 seed Mountaineers force turnovers at more than double the frequency, generating a takeaway on an NCAA-best 27.2 percent of possessions. And I think in this tournament, this nucleus of guys, just feel like as this thing was getting close, well, that's what we did all previous year.

"Can we make this quick?"

West Virginia runs two basic presses - a man-to-man and a 2-2-1. "In a situation like that, you're trying to do everything you can to claw back. We need to be able to look up the floor and have five guys that are receivers and we need to be mentally tough, which is something we've been able to do in the past". "We know what happens to the Irish on St. Patrick's Day".

While he and Brey wax sentimental over yesteryear Big East matchups, their players have only known life in the ACC and Big 12. Their lone easy win came against Wichita State by 11 before they bowed out, memorably, against a then-undefeated Kentucky.

The allure of absolutely no prize was enough to entice 69 entrants, none of which made it through a chalk-filled Thursday unscathed.