More times than not, lower seeded teams would come out of the gate tentative against the newly-crowned ACC Champions.
Not the Northeastern Huskies.
Although the No. 14 Huskies ultimately lost, 69-65, to No. 3 Notre Dame, Northeastern recovered from every punch the Irish could send their way throughout Thursday's first matchup.
After playing the Irish close in the first half, there were two occasions were you might have thought Notre Dame would run away with this game. Twice the Irish opened a double-digit lead in the second half, but both times the Huskies rallied to within two points.
The latter occasion was with 32 seconds on the clock, when Northeastern elected to foul down four and the Irish missed the front end of the one and one. Huskies' leading scorer Scott Eatherton scored on a put back to cut the lead to two points, capping a 10-2 Northeastern run to make Notre Dame sweat.
On the ensuing possession, the Irish threw the ball away on the inbound pass, setting up a potential tying or winning possession for Northeastern. The Huskies looked to try to get the ball to their three-point specialist David Walker, but they turned the ball over with just 1.9 seconds on the clock and Notre Dame made both free throws to seal their win.
Northeastern showed no fear against their ACC opponent from the opening tip. The Huskies led the game on four different occasions, never allowing the Irish to gain more than a five-point lead in the first 20 minutes.
Northeastern used a balanced scoring attack in the first half to trail the Irish by just four at the break. Eatherton controlled the paint early with emphatic dunks to energize the Huskies, but only played 11 minutes after picking up his second foul. Walker was 2-2 from three-point range and sixth man forward Reggie Spencer provided six points off the bench.
Notre Dame started the game somewhat sloppy, but ACC Tournament MVP Jerian Grant found his groove midway through the first half to settle the Irish. Grant finished the game with 17 points, but it was big man Zach Auguste that exploded for 25 points after spending much of the first half on the bench with foul trouble.
The battle down low between Eatherton and Auguste was a good one, with both forwards getting each other in foul trouble, but taking and making big shots for their teams in the second half. Eatherton finished with 18 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies.
The Irish scored 17 points off Northeastern turnovers and held a 22-2 advantage in transition points.
The ACC had previously been 0-3 against the CAA in their last three matchups in the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame advances to play the winner of the Butler-Texas game.