Irish Face Hokies in Pivotal ACC Tournament Match-Up

Irish barely escape opener

Notre Dame nearly knocked off the Hokies minus their top two players in late January. First, the Irish will travel to Urbana, Illinois, for a road contest against No. 6 Illinois on Wednesday.

Notre Dame signed a pair of incoming freshman this off-season in Jahmir Smith, who has already enrolled at Notre Dame and will participate in spring drills, as well as C'Bo Flemister, who will come to South Bend this summer. Both of those matches will take place at Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Pitt might be on its way to its first ACC win in a year, though. The victory snapped a five-match losing streak, during which the Irish dropped decisions to No. 8 North Carolina, No. 9 Florida, No. 12 Duke, No. 7 MI and No. 2 Ohio State.

Armstrong spent last season as a redshirt and didn't see any action, but at 6-foot-1 and 214 pounds, he has the skill-set and athleticism to get a look as a runner, according to Kelly.

"We are thrilled to escape, and that's kind of what you expect in tournament play, that they're all going to be tough", said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey after the 500th win of his coaching career. The Irish improved to 13-4 with Colson in the lineup and are 8-1 at the Barclays Center.

Notre Dame head coach Ryan Sachire said he knows his team's competition in the next coming days will be tough.

"By virtue of a lot of the really good things that Brandon did previous year, he'll go out with the first group", Kelly said. "We are probably one of the harder ones to analyze. They have to look at us".

Williams missed three games and only carried the ball 39 times throughout the entire season. "We want to make sure we are in the mindset of attacking those challenges and attacking those opportunities and really giving us the best chance to be successful". "I did everything I can through the time I was hurt to get it ready as soon as possible", Colson said.

Notre Dame presents an interesting case to the selection committee, as it would've been a lock for the field of 68 on Selection Sunday if Bonzie Colson was healthy throughout ACC play.

Since posting a 4-0 November during the 2012 season, when Notre Dame lost the national championship game to Alabama, Kelly's Irish have gone just 7-13 in the month, including last season's 2-2 effort that dropped them out of the College Football Playoff picture after they had climbed as high as No. 3. This is just one of the reasons why Sachire isn't concerned about the recent slump and why he is optimistic about the future, he said.

"He's accustomed to any type of double [team], no matter where it comes from, no matter who you send", Williams said. It was becoming increasingly clear that their fourth and final collegiate season might not offer a similar sendoff - three weeks earlier, when Duke fans chanted "N-I-T" at Brey's team during its sixth straight loss, he wondered if they would even reach that - and this was something for which he needed to ensure they were prepared. "I just thought it was going to be hard". The Hokies are the better team, but will that team show up on Wednesday night in the Barclays Center? "And then, when we get to the stage when it's time to separate, hopefully we can do it a little bit better than we did in the last couple of matches".

The Panthers are hoping to add another mark in the win column when they take on Notre Dame 2 p.m. Tuesday at the ACC tournament.

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