Motivation

College basketball rankings: Notre Dame will have all the motivation against Duke

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NEW YORK — Notre Dame came from 21 points down Wednesday night to beat Virginia Tech 71-65 and inch closer to an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But the Irish still aren’t there yet, according to CBS Sports bracketology expert Jerry Palm. Which means they probably need to beat Duke on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament to avoid the NIT.

So this should be fun.

It’s essentially a play-in game for the finally healthy Irish — a play-in game against a Duke team that’s improved drastically over the past month, especially on the defensive end. It’s Marvin Bagley and Bonzie Colson on the court together with Notre Dame trying to prove it’s significantly better with its All-American forward, who missed 15 games with a broken left foot before returning on the final day of February.

Notre Dame is 14-4 with Colson, 6-9 without him. But the issue is that the Irish lost to Ball State (No 170 at KenPom) and Indiana (No. 78 at KenPom) before Colson actually got hurt — point being the selection committee can’t reasonably assume Notre Dame would’ve avoided the bad losses they took without Colson had Colson been healthy because Notre Dame’s resume does in fact feature multiple bad losses with Colson in the lineup. So therein lies the problem. But it’s a fixable problem. And beating Duke — which is No. 4 in Thursday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 (and one) — is the way to fix it. Because a win over Mike Krzyzewski’s team should be enough to convince the selection committee that Notre Dame deserves an at-large bid.

Thursday’s Top 25 (and one)

Biggest Movers

1

Creighton

In: Creighton
Out: Virginia Tech

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