No. 5 Blue Devils brace for risky Notre Dame

Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson returned from injury two weeks ago. More

Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson returned from injury two weeks ago. More

The Notre Dame men's basketball team pulled off the biggest comeback in school history Wednesday in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, erasing a 21-point second-half deficit and stunning Virginia Tech 71-65 at Barclays Center.

There was absolutely nothing in the first 25 minutes that made anyone think the 10th-seeded Irish (20-13) were going to still be alive in this tournament today.

The model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, enters Thursday on a 22-13 streak on its recent college basketball picks. The teams combined for 21 blocked shots (11 by FSU), a tournament record. Offense wasn't great. They started switching everything just to try to keep us in front. "Can't win doing that", Brey told his squad in the locker room before tipoff.

A 13-point halftime lead ballooned to a 21-point, 47-26 Tech advantage at the 15:07 mark.

Only Bonzie Colson really knows, but he seemed convinced that his banked-in 3-pointer with two minutes left to give Notre Dame a one-point lead over Virginia Tech wasn't an accident. Since the Tigers are slumping, we don't see coach Brad Brownell's team coming up with the upset.

The Blue Devils won the regular season meeting over an Irish team that was without its top two players.

The Hokies finished 2-12 from the floor.

Duke opened as a six-point favorite and now is laying seven.

Following the break in action, the Hokies kept their momentum by finishing the half with scoring 11 of the next 15 points. "But when we run from it and do our own thing, it's not going to work".

And so they did. "We've got the best strength of schedule we've had in years".

The defense was doing all they could in the first half, but that didn't carry into the second half. "We got stops and finally got some points on the board".

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And still it got worse.

Farrell's 3-pointer with 13:55 left first ignited the closing run that, initially, Virginia Tech met shot-for-shot.

Irish head coach Mik Aoki has emphasized the need for some of the younger players for Notre Dame (6-4) to fully settle into the transition into college baseball.

Senior point guard Matt Farrell led all scorers with 22 points and made multiple clutch plays down the stretch including connecting on a pair of free throws with the Irish up just three.

The key for the Irish after that...make free throws.

Duke last played Notre Dame on January 29 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Notre Dame was almost automatic with their free throws, only missing one free throw in the last three minutes.

Justin Bibbs was the other leading scorer for the Hokies, dropping 15 points as well while going 6-for-14 from the field. Notre Dame got back to within 14 points with 11:28 to play, but another Blackshear three pushed the Hokies' lead back to a seemingly comfortable 17 points.

"What a great win, what a great gutsy win". And I don't want to hear about one of the best 68.

"This was a huge game for a lot of reasons". "Now you're saying we can play defense, but we can't play offense".

For a long stretch of time on Wednesday night, it looked like the Irish were headed straight to the NIT. And if they make the Big Dance that exchange with Clarke will have been a tipping point. Clutch free throws sealed it, capping a 50-point second half.

With at least one more game to play at the Barclays Center, the Irish may or may not end up doing enough to merit an NCAA Championship invitation. Then Notre Dame found its Brooklyn magic once again.

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