The West Virginia Mountaineers (27-8) are the No. 4 seed in the West Region, and will take on No. 5 seed Notre Dame (26-9). The game will be played at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo on Saturday, March 18.
Preview: West Virginia had a tough opening round game against No. 13 Bucknell, outlasting the Bison 86-80 on Thursday afternoon. It was a balanced scoring effort for Bob Huggins club, with five players—Tarik Phillip (16), Esa Ahmad (15), Lamont West (15), Nathan Adrian (12), and Jevon Carter (11)—chipping in with double-digit points.
— WVU Sports (@WVUSports) March 16, 2017
The Mountaineers weren’t alone in having a tough go of it on Thursday afternoon. Notre Dame got everything it could handle from No. 12 Princeton, whose Devin Cannady missed a great look from three with seven seconds left, a shot that would have given the Tigers a two-point lead. Instead, the Fighting Irish eeked out a 60-58 win, behind 18 points and seven rebounds from star forward Bonzie Colson.
Date: Saturday, March 18
Time: 12:10 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Location: KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce
Opening Betting Line: West Virginia -2.5, via OddsShark
According to College Basketball Reference, this will be the 40th meeting between West Virginia and Notre Dame, which used to be conference rivals in the Big East. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 27-12, and won the last match-up between the two schools on February 22, 2012, 71-44.
West Virginia is aiming for a return to the Sweet 16, which it last reached in 2015. The program has made the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament nine times in program history.
Notre Dame seeks a third straight Sweet 16 berth, and an 18th overall trip to the second weekend for the Fighting Irish. Mike Brey’s program has reached the Elite Eight each of the last two seasons.
Prediction: It is said that styles make fights, and this is a pretty fun clash of styles. West Virginia employs an aggressive, in-your-face brand of defense while Notre Dame has one of the most aesthetically pleasing offenses in the country, with shooters all over the floor. Ultimately, the Fighting Irish have the game’s best player in Colson, who is among the more unheralded stars in college basketball, and I like Notre Dame to advance with a narrow win.