Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 46 of 55 SEPT. 19, 2020 47 MEN'S BASKETBALL BY PATRICK ENGEL M ike Brey supported his peers' innovative and per- haps extreme initiative in a way his home-state clien- tele could adore. Brey, along with the other 14 ACC basketball coaches, proposed Sept. 9 an expansion of the 2021 NCAA Tournament to include all 347 eli- gible Division I teams. And for a man who has coached basketball in Indi- ana at Notre Dame for 20 years, he understood exactly how to frame it for fans in a state that devours bas- ketball like few others. Surely, Indiana could appreciate the ACC's call for more high-stakes basketball games. Outline the reason- ing for it in the context of the state's greatest-ever moment in the sport, and it can only gain more popularity. "Indiana is home to the 'Milan Mira- cle' — an example of a pure basket- ball tournament where everyone got a shot," Brey said in a state- ment, referencing the story behind the famous bas- ketball movie "Hoosiers," which oc- curred back when Indiana held one state tournament for all high schools instead of breaking them up by size. "I can't think of a better time, with the possible limits on non-conference competition in college basketball this season, to use the 'Milan Miracle' as an inspiration to level this playing field," Brey said. "Let's give all these student- athletes hope for a shot at the title after all they've been through the past year. "I support my fellow ACC coaches in investigating how we can have an all-inclusive NCAA Tournament this season." Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was reportedly the leader behind the proposal. One day after it was pub- licized, though, NCAA senior vice president of college basketball Dan Gavitt said tournament expansion is not under consideration. "Every college basketball team's goal is to play in the NCAA Tourna- ment, because everyone loves March Madness," Gavitt said in a statement. "Certainly, we missed it this year and can't wait for 2021. "While all who care about the game are entitled to their opinion, and we'll always listen respectfully, at this time we are not working on any contingency plan that involves expanding the tournament field." The practical reason for the idea rests in the lack of clarity surround- ing non-conference games. They're not guaranteed to be anything close to their normal number, if they hap- pen at all. If they are played, some teams may end up with way more than others. Back in July, while musing about the tournament in an interview with Blue & Gold Illustrated, Brey said a widely expanded tournament would be the easy solution to non-confer- ence disparity or dissolution. Those games are necessary in determining tournament seeding and in keeping the integrity of the NCAA's NET metric, which replaced RPI as the primary sorting tool in 2018. "If we're a spring semester sport, it's hard to pick a tournament field," Brey said then. "How about every- one gets in the tournament? We play some home sites, give these kids some hope. At least 200 of the teams get in." For now, the season is on track to start well before the spring semester and contain non-conference play. The NCAA Division I Council will vote on the start date Sept. 16. Per multiple reports, the proposal sub- mitted to them by the men's and women's basketball oversight com- mittee has a start date of Nov. 25 — the day before Thanksgiving and about two weeks later than the origi- nally scheduled date of Nov. 10. The council is expected to adopt that plan. The next hurdle is sorting out the effects of a two-week delay on preex- isting non-conference games. Notre Dame is scheduled to open its season Nov. 11 against Army and has home games against Eastern Washington (Nov. 17) and Liberty (Nov. 20) the following week. The Irish also agreed to play in the Legends Clas- sic Nov. 23-24 in Brooklyn, N . Y. , a l o n g w i t h U S C , Vanderbilt and Connecticut. The sched- uled non-con- ference games after Nov. 25 should not be viewed as locks to actually occur. Reports have surfaced that some of those neutral-site tournaments could collaborate and move to a bubble loca- tion for a week or two in December. According to, the Legends Classic is one of several New York City and northeast-based tournaments that could consolidate and play in an NBA-style bubble from Dec. 9-20 at the Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut. The Basketball Hall of Fame, which hosts a tournament at Mohegan Sun every year, is reportedly behind the push and would operate it. If that larger bubble-type tourna- ment happens and Notre Dame is in- cluded, scheduled games at Kentucky Dec. 12 and the annual Crossroads Classic planned for Dec. 19 would be affected. It is not clear if Notre Dame has received a pitch from the Hall of Fame about the potential tourna- ment. Brey, though, hinted in July he is open to any model. "Nothing," he said, "is a dumb idea." ✦ Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey is in favor of expanding the NCAA Tournament for the 2020-21 season, though there currently are no plans to do so. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA Closer To Answers Notre Dame will learn the start date of its season in mid-September

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