After the two early games went down to the wire, Notre Dame gave Irish fans a night off from basketball-induced heart palpitations. They took it to a very tough Cincinnati team from the get-go, taking a 10 point lead at the half and stretching it to 38 for the win. With their characteristically terrific passing, Mike Brey's club assisted 22 of their 32 made baskets, including four players with at least 3 assists.
Cincinnati tried to counter the Irish's lack of depth by pressing them, but the levelheaded Irish calmly beat the press by going to forward Tyrone Nash to bring the ball up while expanding the lead. Despite the depth issues for Notre Dame, they always do a great job divvying up the scoring between the main players. Ben Hansbrough led the charge with an efficient 23 points (on just 11 shots), while Carlton Scott (18), Tim Abromaitis (17), and Scott Martin (11) all reached double figures. They shot a tremendous 56% from the field, hitting 9 of the 19 three-pointers they attempted.
Juniors Dion Dixon and Yancy Gates got theirs, but nobody else had more than 7 points. When you don't play efficient basketball, you won't beat a smart team like Notre Dame. Cincy figures to land a 6 or 7 seed in the Dance, and they'll be difficult to handle for a 2 or 3 in a second round matchup.
Notre Dame rolls on, awaiting the winner of the Louisville/Marquette late game. They should be relatively well-rested. A win tomorrow basically guarantees a number 1 seed, especially since Pittsburgh went down today to a fiery UConn team.