|Notre Dame has one of the most passionate student sections in all of college basketball. (US Presswire)|
It's no secret that Notre Dame is a football school and the move to the ACC is mostly because of football. However, they Fighting Irish are no slouch in basketball, either. In fact, they are one of the winningest programs in the history of the sport. Are they Duke or North Carolina? No, but not many programs are. As Jeff Goodman pointed out earlier, the ACC is undoubtedly stronger as a result of the addition of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame has no shortage of college hoops history. At the end of last season, the Fighting Irish ranked ninth all-time in wins, sitting just five victories behind UCLA – the program widely regarded as the one with the richest history in the sport.
Of course, that's not the only way the two programs are attached in college basketball history. Notre Dame – coached by Digger Phelps – snapped UCLA's 88-game winning streak in 1974. The last Bruins' loss before that game? Three seasons earlier – to Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish have won two national championships, in 1927 and 1936. They have reached the NCAA tournament 32 times, winning 31 games during that stretch. The number of tournament appearances also ranks ninth all-time.
Plenty of talented players have strolled through South Bend on their way to the pro ranks. Notre Dame has produced 20 first-round draft picks, although the most recent one was Ryan Humphrey back in 2002. The Fighting Irish were also host to 10 consensus All-Americans, with Troy Murphy the last player to garner that honor (in 2000 and 2001).
If forced to pick their best player of all time, it would have to be Austin Carr. The 6-foot-3 guard once scored 61 points in an NCAA tournament game against Ohio, a record that still stands today. He also averaged 41.3 points in seven games – another record. He won the National Player of the Year award in 1971, after scored 38 points per game as a senior. At the time of his departure, Carr ranked fifth all-time in scoring, putting up 2560 points in three seasons.
Other stars in Notre Dame's history include Adrian Dantley, Murphy, John Shumate and Kevin O'Shea. Edward Krause, John Moir and Paul Nowak were three-time All-Americans in the 1930s.
Mike Brey took over the program from Matt Doherty after the 1999-2000 season, and has led the Fighting Irish to eight NCAA tournament appearances in 12 seasons. There was a period of three NIT appearances during the middle of his tenure, but Brey bounced back with five trips to the Big Dance in the last six years. While the Fighting Irish have become a regular in the NCAA tournament, they have only reached the Sweet 16 three times since 1980.
Last season, the Fighting Irish knocked off unbeaten Syracuse, which had won its first 20 games of the campaign. The win spearheaded a nine-game winning streak for Notre Dame, giving them a third straight NCAA tournament berth.
Brey has coached three Big East Players of the Year: Troy Murphy (2001), Luke Harangody (2008) and Ben Hansbrough (2011).
Against the ACC
Notre Dame has certainly had some memorable games against former members of the Big East that are now – or will be – part of the ACC. In 2005, a 20-0 Boston College team went to Notre Dame and came out with a loss; seven years later, a 20-0 Syracuse team went to Notre Dame and came out with a loss.
The Fighting Irish seem to have magic against unbeaten or top-ranked opponents. Back in 1981, 23-0 Virginia came to town, and dropped one, 57-56. Six years later, North Carolina was No. 1 when it visited South Bend – and lost.
Of course, Brey is no stranger to the ACC. He spent eight seasons as an assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.
“I'm really excited about the new challenge for our basketball program,” Brey told reporters Wednesday. “I think Tobacco Road and the rest of ACC country will really grow to understand what we bring to the table.”