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Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Notre Dame 68, Seton Hall 56

By Dana O'Neil

NEW YORK – Pop.

The extremely diaphanous bubble holding Seton Hall’s NCAA tournament hopes officially burst here in the Big East tournament. The Pirates absolutely had to beat Notre Dame to have an outside chance of getting a ticket.

Instead the high-scoring Pirates – the same ones who dropped 109 against Providence a night earlier – could barely get over 50 against the Irish, and all but sealed their NIT fate.

But instead of pummeling the losers here, it’s time to salute the winners. Notre Dame moved into the quarterfinals and squarely and finitely into the NCAA tournament field with their fifth consecutive win. A team that less than a month ago looked way out of the NCAA tournament instead played its way in with its best player on the bench with an injury.

The Irish’s stunning Luke Harangody-less rally may be the most surprising event in a very surprising Big East season.

There is no one hotter in the league right now and no one playing with more confidence.

How did this one go down? A few ideas: