Notre Dame's first-round NCAA tournament opponent – Old Dominion – is likely not a team many Irish fans are familiar with.
But coach Mike Brey said the Monarchs' style of play will be very familiar to fans and more importantly Notre Dame (23-11), which plays Old Dominion (26-8) at 12:25 p.m. Thursday in New Orleans Arena.
"Pittsburgh is a good comparison," Brey said. "I watched them play one time because I wanted to watch Georgetown early in January. They beat Georgetown (61-57 Dec. 19), not at the Verizon Center but at McDonough Arena.
"We are basically playing a Big East team physically. Good athletic ability but wanting to grind you half court defense, on the backboard and half court offense.
"It's Big East preparation. I like the fact that it is Big East preparation. Hand-to-hand combat in the lane. Can we win the backboard challenge? We are going to have to play good post defense and help with our perimeter in there. And on the other, we are going to have to be real efficient offensively. They are a team that is going to be in good position, so we are going to have to move them around to get a good look."
Old Dominion also comes from a familiar conference to Notre Dame – the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Irish defeated CAA foe George Mason 68-50 in their last NCAA appearance in 2008. Brey said he expects a tougher challenge from the Monarchs, who were picked to win the CAA in the preseason and did just that by capturing the regular-season and tournament titles.
"I told our guys this is the second time we played the Colonial champion," Brey said. "We played George Mason last time. They are a lot better than the George Mason team we played two years ago, no disrespect to George Mason. (Old Dominion) much better. This is a team that has played together longer. They've been the best team in their league all year and have backed it up."