To the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Men's Basketball Team, an injury to star senior Luke Harangody meant the resurrection of their season. Many teams crumble when their star goes down and they drop off the tournament radar, but not Mike Brey's team.
After Harangody was injured in a tough 90-87 loss to Seton Hall on Feb. 11, the Irish have gone 3-2 and are on a three game win streak over Big East tournament contenders. After the Seton Hall game, close losses to St. John's by one at home, and by two at Louisville set back the morale of the team but with a week off and a visit from Pittsburgh on the horizon, Irish players started to step up.
Going into their game against Pitt at Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame was 17-10 overall and 6-8 in the Big East and far from any tournament talk but that all changed the night of Feb. 24 when the Irish took down then-16th ranked Pittsburgh 68-53. Four of the five starters in that game (Tim Abromaitis, Ben Hansbrough, Tyrone Nash and Tory Jackson) scored in double-digits for the game, led by 17 from Abromaitis.
Then last Saturday a trip to the Verizon Center and a matchup with No. 13 Georgetown became a game that could get the Irish back into NCAA Tournament talk. Mike Brey's team took full advantage of that opportunity and came out of the Verizon Center with a 78-64 win that was propelled by 21 from Hansbrough.
Enter tonight, a home game at Purcell Pavilion against fellow bubble team UConn, that has a better resume. A low scoring first half that featured 37 combined points between the two teams led to a 41 point second half for the home team and gave them a 58-50 win over UConn. This time the leading scorer was Tory Jackson with 22, the third different leading scorer during the three game win streak.
The last regular season game for the Irish comes at Marquette on Saturday with a chance to take the five-seed if everything falls in their favor. If not, the Irish will be looking at an eight-seed at the worst if they lose to the Golden Eagles and Louisville, and Georgetown wins its remaining games.
With contributions coming from many different players, the task of making a run in the Big East Tournament and possibly the NCAA Tournament is looking easier by the game for the Irish and if Luke Harangody is able to come back, the Irish will certainly not be a team that teams want to face because when the postseason comes, the team that is hot going in has a good chance at winning.