By virtue of having the third-best in-conference record in the Big East, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish won't have to play until the quarterfinals of this year's conference tournament. With the possibility of getting an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and an improved seed through the process, the Irish likely have their eyes on the title.
After struggling through their non-conference schedule, the Fighting Irish found their stride against Big East foes. After going just 8-5 to begin the season, Notre Dame would go 13-5 in the conference schedule. Only Syracuse, 17-1 in conference and the No. 2 team in the nation, and Marquette, 14-4 in conference and No. 7 in the nation, have been better.
And it's worth noting that both Syracuse and Marquette lost to Notre Dame when the teams met earlier this season, so the Irish have experience with toughing out victories against the conference's elite teams.
Rutgers and Villanova face off in the first round on Tuesday. The winner of that game will play South Florida, which received a bye out of the first round, in the second round of the tournament. That winner will play the Irish on Thursday.