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Moments Of The Year — No. 11

This is the second installment of our series counting down the 12 most memorable events of the 2012-13 academic year. With the last final exams turned in, it’s time to look back at all the highs and lows of an eventful year in South Bend. These aren’t the best times or the worst times, simply the moments we’ll remember most when looking back.

Madison Square Garden has hosted the Big East Tournament every year since 1983.

Good Night, New York

March 15, 2013

The conference realignment shockwaves hit no sport harder than basketball during the 2012-13 school year and no conference harder that the once-mighty Big East. The league’s iconic postseason tournament in Madison Square Garden served as a national wake for the outgoing structure of college basketball — one that ended in familiar fashion for the Irish.

Notre Dame, wearing its buzz-worthy electric green uniforms, couldn’t find any magic or write any storybook ending to their time in the Big East. Instead, the team fell to eventual champion Louisville 69-57 in matter-of-fact fashion in the semifinal round.

The loss sent the Irish off to the Atlantic Coast Conference without ever getting the chance to play for the Big East title on Saturday night in the Garden — one of head coach Mike Brey’s most cited goals for the program in recent years. It was the fourth time in a row his team had come up one game short and the third time in a row that the Cardinals were the team to end their run.

“I'm very disappointed we could never get to Saturday,” Brey said following the game. “I guess I’ve got to say can we get to Sunday afternoon now in the new league or whatever. But I'm thrilled that we played in the semis in such a magical night here.

“So a little bit of unfinished business, but we'll get over it quickly and get ready to prepare for next week. And I can't say enough about the Big East, man. I don't think it's really hit me yet.”

Notre Dame’s entertaining series with Louisville will continue in the ACC in the future. Those schools will also be joined by Syracuse and Pittsburgh, all of them programs that helped carry the Big East to its reputation as the toughest in the country during its recent peak. The Irish will probably continue to play games in and around New York City moving forward as well, perhaps even at Madison Square Garden.

Nonetheless, the March 15 loss to Louisville is one that Brey, his players and Notre Dame fans will remember as the end of an era for Irish basketball.

“I've always said I've been as proud of being a Big East guy as I am a Notre Dame guy,” Brey said. “We'll miss that. I do like the fact that some of those people are coming to this new league with us, but unbelievable memories of the league and especially this building.”

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