The Crossroads Classic has turned into a premier event for college basketball not only in Indiana, but across the country. It's a massive opportunity for four major programs -- Indiana, Purdue, Butler and Notre Dame -- to slug it out in front of massive alumni bases that each school has in the Indianapolis area. It's good for fans and a good opportunity for schools to connect with alumni in this part of the state.
It's also huge for recruiting.
And Mike Brey would like you to know exactly who he thinks RUNS THIS STATE, based on this comment from today's Notre Dame conference call with media members ahead of Saturday's showdown with Indiana.
Brey: "We're the most consistent program in this state and it isn't close."— Alex Bozich (@insidethehall) December 17, 2015
Is this true? LET'S DO SOME FACT CHECKING.
Notre Dame went to the Elite Eight last season. They went 15-17 in the previous season. This, by definition, is not consistent.
Notre Dame had a very nice season in its run to the Elite Eight in 2015, and nearly knocked off title favorite Kentucky along the way. That's good! They also went 15-17 the year before and missed the tournament with the same players! That's not very good!
But, what about other seasons before that?
Since Mike Brey arrived in South Bend in 2000 to the end of the 2013 season, Notre Dame went to nine NCAA tournaments. In that same time frame, they've been to four NITs. Three of those came in a stretch from 2003-2006, when Brey's Irish failed win more than 19 games in any season. Other than that, Notre Dame's won twenty games at least in about every season, save 2013-14. That's pretty good! Granted, Mike Brey's iteration of Notre Dame basketball has won a regular-season conference title a grand total of zero times. In four of those nine trips to the NCAAs, Notre Dame failed to win a game. Prior to earlier this calendar year, Mike Brey had made it past the Round of 32 exactly one time.
That is, on the other hand, not very good.
Notre Dame basketball under Mike Brey has been, largely, fine. Mike Davis was placed into a rocketship destined for the sun for Indiana fans for a same-or-better body of work compared to Mike Brey early on, but it's fine. Mike Brey is fine. Notre Dame basketball is fine. Just fine. Notre Dame is somewhat consistent, in the manner that microwavable mashed potatoes are "somewhat consistent" throughout. You place the container in the microwave filled with mashed potatoes, and upon opening the microwave at completion, the container is still in fact full of mashed potatoes. It, for what it is, is fine.
Notre Dame basketball is somewhat consistent, and fine.
But, they're more consistent, than other teams in Indiana, right?
Well, I mean, yeah, sure. Maybe.
Actually, no. Probably not.
Since Mike Brey came to Notre Dame in 2000, Butler's been to 9 NCAA tournaments -- one less than Notre Dame in the same time frame -- including 7 of the last 9. They've also been to two national championship games in that time frame, but frog sipping tea dot gif. They've also won a smattering of conference regular season titles, something, you know, Notre Dame has not done.
But, pssssssssssssssst. Guess who else has gone to nine NCAA tournaments in the same time frame. Well, uh, Indiana. Despite the perceived mess Indiana basketball has been in the last 15 years, the program has still had roughly the same level of success as Notre Dame, if not moreso. Indiana has been to a national title game, albeit in 2002, since Mike Brey came to Notre Dame. They've got a conference title to pair with that in 2013, which, sure, might not be parade-worthy, but it's something. Indiana's been to as many sweet sixteens in the last four seasons as Notre Dame & Mike Brey have gone to in the last 12. Between Indiana and Notre Dame, one team has had a losing season in the last two seasons. That team is not Indiana.
Even Purdue, despite having a downtrodden recent period similar to Indiana, has a claim to dispute Brey's logic. Between Keady & Painter, Purdue's been to 8 NCAA tournaments since the start of the 2000-2001 season when Brey came to Notre Dame. That's two less than the Irish. In that same period, they've also matched Notre Dame's single conference tournament title. They've been to as many Sweet Sixteens in the past six season as Notre Dame has been in, you know, the last twelve. That's not even playing the what-if game with Robbie Hummel's knee.
Mike Brey's claim likely arises out of the following data points:
- Notre Dame's made the tournament 10 times in the last 15 years in his tenure.
- Notre Dame has been good at not *totally* bottoming out, as Indiana and Purdue have for a couple seasons in the past 7 years.
- Notre Dame had a really good, 30-win team last year that was fun to watch.
- Mike Brey would like to recruit Indianapolis.
- "please like my team"
That claim is refuted by the following data points:
- Notre Dame has only made one more NCAA tournament than Indiana & Butler and two more than Purdue in that same time frame.
- Even when making the tournament, Notre Dame has a history of early exits under Mike Brey.
- Indiana & Butler have combined to play in 3 national title games in the same period. Notre Dame has played in zero.
- Indiana, Purdue, and Butler have combined to make it to make 6 Sweet Sixteens since 2009. Notre Dame has been to exactly one -- last season -- when they made the Elite Eight.
- Indiana, not Notre Dame, is the only program out of the bunch to have a winning record in each of the last four seasons.
- Notre Dame lost 17 games in a season in 2013-14.