Deadspin has a little rundown of the Irish and Winthrop. Having a 3-to-1 female/male ratio, would that mean Winthrop players have more incentive to play well... or less?
Ken Pomeroy breaks down the Midwest bracket. His stats give ND an 80% chance to win Friday and almost 7% to make it to Atlanta.
"As we get into the Cinderella seeds, two teams stand out - Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. Most folks would say it’s crazy to think one of them would make the Elite 8, and the odds are heavily against each doing so, but each is team is better than their seed would indicate. If they can get by serious first-round tests, watch out for these two. When you have Luke Harangody, anything is possible. "
Starting February 15, the Irish have gone 6-1, facing opponents with an average RPI of 88 (#215 Rutgers and #174 Cinncinnati hurt a bit). Last game was March 9th.
During the same timespan, Winthrop is 6-0, playing teams with an average RPI of 228. Yes, the worst team ND has faced in conference play has a better RPI than the mean of Winthrop's Big South opponents. The Big South championship game was March 3rd.
Winthrop's biggest win was February 16th at Missouri State (36 RPI). Notre Dame has beaten #16 Maryland, #18 Villanova, #22 Marquette, and #37 Louisville this season. The only common opponent between the Irish and Winthrop is Maryland, who beat the Eagles by 11 two weeks before our matchup.
Let's make no mistake, Winthrop is a very good basketball team. However, there should be no doubts about what we can expect Friday. Notre Dame has more talent, more seasoning following a tough conference schedule, and can play with a chip on both shoulders.
As we continue to hear analysts call Winthrop "this year's George Mason," it's time for a history lesson. At this time last year, Mason was simply the first at-large ever from the CAA. David Mihm had the Patriots listed as his 2nd team in his Last Four Out before brackets were released. No one saw their run into history as a possibility before the tournament. Now Mason is seen as the gold standard for mid-majors everywhere. Good luck for Winthop trying to live up to impossibly high expectations. There may never be another team like George Mason.
One more day until the tourney starts in earnest. Good luck to all the teams competing tomorrow.