Notre Dame erased a lot of bad feelings by winning its first game of this year's NCAA tournament when the second-seeded Irish defeated 15th-seeded Akron 69-56 Friday afternoon in the United Center in Chicago.
But forward Tyrone Nash was quick to point out that Notre Dame, which won a tournament game for the first time since 2008, couldn't be satisfied with one win as the Irish went into tonight's third-round game against 10th-seeded Florida State.
Nash was a freshman when the Irish defeated George Mason 68-50 in the first round in 2008 and then fell to Washington State 61-41 in the second round in Denver.
"This reminds me a little bit of my freshman year when we won the first-round game but got smacked in the second-round game," Nash said Saturday. "I reiterated how it felt at that time. If we don't come out here prepared like we were for the first-round game, we could get our butts kicked.
"If we are really focused in and do what we have to do, we will be able to experience this great feeling once again."
As if to punctuate Nash's point of needing to be locked in for a second game in the NCAA tournament, third-seeded Purdue was upset by 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth 94-76 before the Irish and Seminoles tipped off.
VCU will be waiting for the winner between Notre Dame and Florida State in the Southwest Region semifinals in San Antonio on Friday.
But before the Irish can think about taking on the Rams, who have won three games in six days after winning a first-round game Tuesday in Dayton, they have to contend with a double-digit seed that doesn't look like a team that should be seeded so low.
Florida State's calling card is defense, and the Seminoles enter tonight's game leading the nation in field goal percentage defense – holding teams to 36.2 percent shooting.
"I think they're as tough as any 10 seed that I've seen," Irish forward Tim Abromaitis said. "They're as big and physical as pretty much any team in the country. Obviously, that's going to pose a lot of issues for us. But I think we have size, and if we gain rebounds, as Coach (Mike Brey) says, 'That's how we'll try to neutralize that.' "
The Seminoles also have their best player back. Forward Chris Singleton, the ACC defensive player of the year, had five points, two rebounds, a block and a steal in Friday's 57-50 win over Texas A&M. Singleton hadn't played since breaking his right foot Feb. 12.
Singleton only played 16 minutes in that game, but Brey said he believes the junior will play closer to his season average of 29.7 minutes tonight.
Singleton averaged a team-high 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds while notching 54 steals and 41 blocks this season.
"Another big guy, another guy who's long and athletic coming back into the lineup," Notre Dame forward Carleton Scott said of Singleton's return. "It's just adding to their arsenal of length and big guys."