Notre Dame's Non-Conference Schedule Not Helpful for Big East Play

Mark RudiCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2009

NEW YORK - MARCH 11: Tory Jackson #2 and Luke Harangody #44 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish react after a game against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the second round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 11, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Notre Dame ended its non-conference schedule at 11-2.

But don't let that record fool you when you look at their 11 wins. The likes of North Florida, Long Beach State, Central Florida, Bucknell, IUPUI, and Kennessaw State are among those the Irish defeated.

But the fact of the matter is the Irish's 2009-10 non-conference schedule will not help them once Big East Conference play starts Wednesday night. Notre Dame will face Providence Wednesday night at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame is in arguably the toughest conference in college basketball and it really doesn't make sense for the Irish to play a soft schedule. They did schedule UCLA and defeated the Bruins 84-73 on Dec. 19, but UCLA has had an awful season, sitting at 5-7 with losses to Cal State Fullerton, Portland, and Long Beach State.

The Irish also played nine of those games at home and the other two were played at neutral sites when Notre Dame lost to No. 25 Northwestern 72-58 and beat St. Louis 64-52 at the Chicago Invitational Challenge on Thanksgiving weekend.

The Irish haven't even played a true road game and won't until playing at No. 10 Connecticut Saturday. The XL Center is probably not the best place to be playing your first road game of the year. 

Notre Dame's best win is a bad UCLA team and they better hope they show up in conference play and knock off some big teams, because a schedule like that will not help the Irish's case if they're a bubble team come March. 

That schedule will not help a team beat the likes of Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Villanova, West Virginia, Louisville, and Syracuse.

Not to mention, the Irish have a loss to a 7-7 Loyola Marymount squad; the Lions defeated Notre Dame 87-85 in South Bend on Dec. 12.

According to Sangrain ratings, Notre Dame's schedule is the 330th toughest in the country out of 347 Division I basketball teams. Eight of those 11 teams have losing records and the Irish have zero quality wins. The Loyola loss is a bad loss on its resume. Notre Dame is ranked 70th in the RPI standings.

I understand Notre Dame remolded the Joyce Center, so they'd like most of the games there, but honestly, for a Big East team, that is really a joke. Since the Joyce Center is remolded, wouldn't you want to bring someone big into the ring on occasion?

Apparently Mike Brey and the Irish didn't think so.

With a resume like that, the Irish better get some quality wins over ranked conference foes if they hope to make the field of 65 come March. Otherwise, it'll be the NIT for Notre Dame.