March Madness Predictions: Will West Virginia knock off Notre Dame? 3/18/17

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't easy for the 63-year-old coach to stomach watching West Virginia pull ahead by double digits in each half only to allow the Bison to mount a comeback.

It's not really much of a surprise that both of these teams won their first-round games and are meeting up with each other here, and this is where the decisions start getting hard.

West Virginia used 16 points from guard Tarik Phillip to knock off Bucknell 86-80 Thursday.

West Virginia has struggled with teams that have the guards to handle its pressure, and Notre Dame certainly does. "So, finding the rhythm in this game is going to be a feeling-out process for us in the first half". It closed within three a trio of times in the second half, twice on two of Mackenzie's career-high five 3-pointers, and another on a Nana Foulland dunk. The Mountaineers have now failed to cover in four consecutive games, all of which came when they were favored.

"You know, this year we've been down a couple times".

A 10-0 run in the middle of the fourth quarter gave the Big 12 tournament champions the decisive advantage they needed. "We need to be able to look up the floor and have five guys that are receivers and we need to be mentally tough, which is something we've been able to do in the past". "We have a lot of weapons and we didn't panic". Notre Dame's 10 three-point makes and perfection from the free-throw line (17-of-17) kept things interesting, but it wasn't enough to overcome Bob Huggins' confident bunch. The Mountaineers registered a 42-32 difference on the boards, including a 17-9 edge in offensive rebounds.

What was troubling is how the Mountaineers forced only 15 turnovers, well below the nation-leading 20.4 they were averaging entering the game.

≤ The West Virginia bench outscored Bucknell's bench, 37-5.

West, the son of Notre Dame coach and former West Virginia standout Jarrod West, was 9 of 13 shooting in the game and added six assists and four rebounds. "And like the guys said, Foulland is a really good player". They don't really play too great of defense. He throws him in the game.

If there's one person who stands out, it's Nathan Adrian - mainly because of his hair, and typical place at the top of the press.

"It's just kind of what we do". "It's time to go, we're excited, we like the way we're playing, we like the way we're defending, so we're ready to get on the court again". "So if we've got guys that can come in off the bench and contribute, and guys keep playing the way they're playing, we think we could be a really risky team".

Muldrow 3-4 0-0 6, Montgomery 6-9 1-2 13, Martin 7-24 9-10 26, Pardee 5-10 0-0 14, Ray 2-6 3-3 7, King 3-3 0-0 6, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Brewer 1-1 0-0 3, Totals 27-57 13-15 75. Michigan State blitzed past the stunned Hurricanes (21-12) after that, using a 20-2 first half run to take control for good and shooting 64 percent (16 of 25) in the second half.

The game is likely to turn on just how much West Virginia's press flusters the guards of Notre Dame. West Virginia won 83-71.

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