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Can Notre Dame Take Next Step?

When Notre Dame plays Iowa State in Dayton, Ohio this Friday — which happens to be Irish head coach Mike Brey’s 54th birthday — it will attempt to snap a string of disappointments since 2007 in which it has lost to a lower seed.

Junior guard Jerian Grant and Notre Dame play Friday against Iowa State in Dayton, Ohio.

If it can achieve that, then it will attempt to win back-to-back NCAA Tournament games for only the third time the past 33 years

Notre Dame is 31-36 in the NCAA Tournament since accepting its first bid in 1953. Here is the breakdown by coach:

John Jordan (1951-64)
• In 13 seasons, Jordan led the Fighting Irish to six NCAA Tournament bids, although the school still didn’t accept post-season berths his first year.
• His 8-6 record (1-0 in consolation games) in the NCAA Tournament is the best among Notre Dame coaches in terms of winning percentage (.571).
• The Irish advanced to the Elite 8 in 1953, 1954 and 1958, but they made the tournament only two times in his last six seasons and were eliminated in the first round both times.

John Dee (1964-71)
• In his seven seasons, Notre Dame made the NCAA Tournament four times, including each of his last three with All-American guard Austin Carr.
• His 2-6 record (0-2 in consolation games) is the worst winning percentage (.250) among Irish coaches.
• When Notre Dame defeated Ohio U., 112-62 on March 7, 1970 — highlighted by Carr’s NCAA record 61 points — it was the program’s first NCAA victory in 12 years, the longest drought by the program.

Digger Phelps (1971-91)
• Notre Dame made the NCAA Tournament 14 times in Phelps’ 20 seasons, with a program record eight consecutive from 1974-81, and then six in a row from 1985-90.
• His record in NCAA Tournament action was 15-16 (.484), including 1-2 in consolation games, nearly twice as many victories than any other Notre Dame coach. Ten of the wins came in his first 10 years, but only five in his last 10.
• The 1978 teams is the lone Irish team to win three straight NCAA Tournament games and advance to the Final Four.

Mike Brey (2000-13)
• This is Notre Dame’s ninth NCAA Tournament bid in Brey’s 13 seasons, and fourth in a row — a first by the program since 1986-90.
• When the Irish were invited his first season, it broke a record 10-year drought of not even being in the Big Dance. The victory over Xavier in 2001, his first year, broke a 12-year winless string since 1989.
• Brey is 6-8 (.429) in the NCAA Tournament. He was 4-3 his first three seasons, but only 2-5 in the last nine.
Here are the year-by-year seedings under Brey, and the results:

• In 2012, the seventh-seeded Irish lost a second-round contest 67-63 to #10 Xavier in Greensboro, N.C.

• In 2011, the second-seeded Irish defeated #15 Akron 69-56 in the second round, then dropped a third-round contest 71-57 to #10 seed Florida State in Chicago.

• In 2010, the sixth-seeded Irish dropped a first-round South Region game 51-50 to #11 seed Old Dominion in New Orleans.

• In 2008, the fifth-seeded Irish defeated #12 George Mason 68-50 in a first-round game in Denver, before losing a second-round contest 61-41 to #4 Washington State.

• In 2007, the sixth-seeded Irish dropped a first-round Midwest Region game in Spokane 74-64 to 11th-seeded Winthrop.

• In 2003, the fifth-seeded Irish defeated Wisconsin-Milwaukee 70-69 in an NCAA first-round game and fourth-seeded Illinois 68-60 in a second-round matchup (both in Indianapolis) before falling 88-71 in a West Regional semifinal to top-seeded Arizona in Anaheim, Calif.

• In 2002, the eighth-seeded Irish men defeated Charlotte 82-63 in the first round in Greenville, S.C., before falling to top-seeded Duke 84-77 in the second round.

• In 2001, sixth-seeded Notre Dame defeated Xavier 83-71 in the first round in Kansas City, Mo., before dropping a second-round game 59-56 to third-seeded Ole Miss.

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