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A milestone too far

DAYTON, Ohio -- The last time this happened, George Bush was President. That would be George Bush the First, mind you.

When Notre Dame hits the floor here tonight against Iowa State, it will be the fourth straight year it's played in the NCAA tournament. The last time that happened was 1985-1990, when the Irish had a run of six straight dates in the Madness.

"I'm really proud of it, with the consistency of our program to have his class be the first in 23 or 24 years to do it every year," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said, referring specifically to center Jack Cooley's four straight NCAA appearances. "He's probably spoiled. I told our guys that, the seniors. They're spoiled a little bit because not a lot of people live like that."

Not that Brey, whose Notre Dame teams have made the tournament in nine of his 13 seasons, wouldn't mind spoiling his charges a little more.

Here's the downside to those four straight NCAA berths and nine in 13 years, see: Only once in those nine trips have the Irish gotten out of the first weekend. That was in 2003, when they reached the Sweet 16 as a 5 seed. Overall, they're 12-17 in the Dance since the NCAA began seeding it in 1979.

But enough gloom. More bright side.

"The consistency of our program, as we try to kick it to another level, this is a good thing for us, four in a row," Brey said Thursday.