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Sunday, June 16, 2024
The Observer

Irish enter ACC Tournament on top, await news on Miles’ injury

The ACC women’s basketball tournament will start in Greensboro, North Carolina Wednesday afternoon. Fresh off of a conference-title win over Louisville on Sunday, Notre Dame will enter the tournament holding the top overall seed.

Rounding out the upper echelon of the bracket is No. 2-seed Duke, No. 3-seed Virginia Tech and aforementioned No. 4-seed Louisville. Duke had a chance to clinch the top seed in the final round of regular season games, but their loss to North Carolina paired with the Irish’s win bumped them to the second slot.

Elsewhere in the tournament, Notre Dame will face one of either North Carolina State or Syracuse in the first round. The Wolfpack in particular represent an intriguing potential matchup for the Irish, as Wes Moore’s squad was one of just three ACC opponents to deal Notre Dame a loss in conference play. North Carolina State also dumped the Irish out of the NCAA tournament last year, with Notre Dame’s upset bid over the top-seeded Wolfpack falling just short in the final seconds of the Sweet 16.

Head coach Niele Ivey — named ACC coach of the year Tuesday afternoon — was unsurprisingly full of praise for the Wolfpack in her media availability before the Irish left for Greensboro.

“They’ve got great size. They’ve got an incredible point guard in Diamond Johnson. They have depth, they play multiple players off the bench and they really bothered us with their pressure,” she said. “I thought they were physical … we have to be prepared to contain the ball, to try and get an inside presence against their bigs. They have so many weapons.”

Ivey also made sure to give plaudits to potential foe Syracuse. Though Notre Dame twice pulled away late to deal the Orange a pair of defeats in conference play this season, Felisha Legette-Jack gave Ivey all she could handle.

With Syracuse currently fighting for a spot on the NCAA tournament bubble, Ivey remarked on being ready to play against a team with a serious hunger for victory.

“They’re playing desperate and playing really well,” Ivey said. “[Legette-Jack] has done a phenomenal job turning that program around. They’re more of a matchup team, so we’ll expect them to sit in that matchup zone for 40 minutes. They like to extend their pressure and press full court … playing them two times, we know what to expect and what to do playing against their zone. They’re very athletic, we have to do a great job of containing their guards.”

Regardless of the opponent, the Irish’s story will almost certainly be the availability of sophomore point guard Olivia Miles. Miles, an all-ACC selection who just missed winning conference player of the year, is Notre Dame’s current leader in points, rebounds and assists. 

Against Louisville Sunday, Miles left the game with what was later reported to be a knee injury and was unable to return. However, Ivey was non-committal about what her status might be with regards to a return window. She stressed that more tests needed to be done before Notre Dame could determine the severity of Miles’ injury and what her timetable to re-enter the Irish rotation might look like. Notre Dame’s ACC tournament run will tip off on Friday at 2 p.m. in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Irish will play either North Carolina State or Syracuse, and the contest will be broadcast on the ACC Network.