Notre Dame Fighting Irish (24-7) vs. Winthrop Eagles (28-4)
When: Friday, 2:35 p.m.
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
1. The benefits of weed. When the Irish's starting point guard Kyle McAlarney was indefinitely suspended for having pot in the front seat of his car in late December, freshman guard Tory Jackson was immediately thrust into the starting spot. Although he still lacks K-Mac's consistency from behind both lines, Jackson's evolved into a very capable dynamo at the one position, scoring 34 points, dishing out 13 assists and pulling in 16 rebounds in back-to-back home wins over DePaul and Marquette. It's no wonder Jackson's a natural distributor; the Saginaw native is one of 15 siblings.
2. From downtown South Bend. Irish gunner Colin Falls has taken a majority of his shots from behind the 3-point arc (214 out of his 271 field goal attempts this season have been from long distance), but it's still quite an accomplishment to become the career 3-point leader in the history of both Notre Dame and the Big East conference. Falls ended his senior Big East regular season with 189 threes, six more than Gerry McNamara. His record seems even more valuable when you consider that his Orange counterpart was in school for nine years.
3. Not in our church. Walking into the Joyce Center, you wouldn't think it a basketball stronghold, but the Irish and Leprechaun Legion student section completed an 18-0 home campaign that extended their home winning streak to 20 games. It's a good thing Mike Brey's team was so consistent in South Bend, considering their road losses included St. Johns (RPI 130), South Florida (RPI 182, defeated them by 24 at home) and DePaul (defeated by 24 at home as well). If you're wondering how they play without a partisan crowd, the Irish were 1-1 at neutral sites, defeating Maryland in DC and losing by two to Butler. — Rakes Of Mallow
1. Some Winthrop Firsts. 1886: Winthrop first opens its doors.
1972: Winthrop goes co-ed and allows its first males to enroll.
August 20, 1977, 10:00 am: Freshman, and future actress Andie MacDowell first steps foot on campus.
August 20, 1977, 10:01 am: The few pioneering men who broke the gender barrier see MacDowell and call their friends, telling them that Winthrop is exactly how they pictured going to a former all-girls school would be.
August 20, 1977, 10:05 am: The men's dreams are dashed when MacDowell is asked out on and subsequently accepts a dinner date with the school's president.
1999: Basketball team makes first NCAA Tournament.
2003: I hook with a Winthrop girl for the first time.
2007: First Top 25 basketball ranking in school history.
2. Are you feeling lucky? Having once been an all-girls college, Winthrop stills maintains a 3:1 girl-to-guy ratio. For the guys on campus, this creates a law of supply and demand that just can't be topped. And if you get tired of that you can always try and win a car. Every year at a home basketball game, the fans make paper airplanes and throw them toward a car at mid-court with its windows open. First plane in wins the car. The best thing is that people actually win.
3. Nice Pants. When you think about the coaches that you've had in your lifetime, "high fashion" isn't typically the first phrase that pops into your head. Unfortunately a grown man in a t-shirt tucked into some high-riding shorts with socks pulled over his calves might be. Or even a guy in perma-sweats might be a more accurate depiction. Not so for Winthrop. Every year before they play in the tournament, Coach Marshall takes his coaching staff to a tailor in Charleston, S.C., where they are all fitted for custom made suits. With this being the seventh time in nine years that they will be going to The Dance, that makes for a solid wardrobe selection. — John Redcorn