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Dance Card: Notre Dame, ACC

Writing the phrase "Notre Dame, ACC" looks, sounds, and feels deeply, soul-wrenchingly wrong.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Who? The Irish of Notre Dame.

What? There are many stories explaining the name. There are fewer explaining the leprechaun.

Where? South Bend, Indiana, the hub of Michiana.

When? March 9th, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Why? They won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

How? Notre Dame broke open a game that had been tied at the half and ran away with a 69-53 win over Duke. Kayla McBride had 15 of her 25 points in the first half; Jewell Loyd had 18 of her game-high 26 in the second half.

Surprise? Predicted to finish second in the conference by both the blue ribbon panel and the coaches, they ended up in first and undefeated in conference, four games clear of Duke and Maryland.

RPI: 1

SOS: 6

Record: 32-0 (16-0 ACC)

Good wins: At Tennessee.

Bad losses: Muffet McGraw's sanity regarding the attractiveness of lime green. Certainly nothing on the court.

Who's running this show? Muffet McGraw, since 1987. Is it awkward at all that her son went to Indiana?

Extra, Extra! The South Bend Tribune.


Skylar who? The Irish have come back even stronger from the graduation of the acclaimed point guard, on the backs of seniors Natalie Achonwa (14.3 points, 7.4 rebounds) and Kayla McBride (17.3 points, 3.8 assists) and super sophomore Jewell Loyd (team-high 18.3 points, 6.2 rebounds).

Random things that may only intrigue me: Michaela Mabrey's three-point shooting (41.7%), the remarkably even distribution of steals across the top eight in the rotation- eight players with at least 20, led by Loyd's 57. The Irish get it done both offensively and defensively, with authority, and against the best.

For more on the conference's tournament, check out our 2014 ACC women's basketball tournament storystream.