Notre Dame’s defense punches second straight Elite Eight ticket

No. 6 Notre Dame received a tough effort from No. 7 Wisconsin, but the Fighting Irish’s speed offense and ridiculously clutch defense ultimately got them over the Badgers in a 61-56 victory that punched coach Mike Brey a second consecutive ticket to the Elite Eight.

V.J. Beachem led Notre Dame with 19 points and Demetrius Jackson chipped in 16 of his own, plus the key steal that gave Notre Dame the lead with 14 seconds remaining.

At one point, following a three-pointer by Wisconsin’s Vitto Brown that made the score 56-53, it looked like Notre Dame would foul following a Jackson layup that made the score 56-55. Rather, the Fighting Irish played great defense on the inbounds pass and took advantage of Badgers forward Nigel Hayes neglecting to call timeout upon receiving the ball, a boneheaded move considering how Wisconsin star center Ethan Happ had recently fouled out. Jackson came away with the steal, and the rest is history. Not only did Notre Dame sink some key free throws, but Jackson came up with another steal with two seconds left to seal the victory.

Notre Dame will now head to the Elite Eight for the second year in a row and face the winner of tonight’s matchup between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 5 Indiana.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, will return to Madison and ponder how it committed 17 turnovers and practically gave the game away.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports