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Notre Dame

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Irish hit the road in tournament

– It’s hard not to view Notre Dame’s NCAA tournament draw as the worst among the top seeds.

Instead of playing at home like Baylor, Stanford and Connecticut, Notre Dame was shipped off to Iowa City. Tonight, the Irish will face ninth-seeded Iowa in the second round in front of a hostile crowd of as many as 10,000 people.

This would be a much bigger problem if the Irish weren’t so good on the road.

Notre Dame (32-1) will put its perfect road record on the line against the Hawkeyes (21-12). The Irish have won at Connecticut, Tennessee and everywhere else in this remarkable season, and they’re confident they can do the same at Iowa.

“I think we’ve been road tested and we’re battle tested,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “We have gone to a lot of tough places on the road. So we know what that’s going to be like.”

What’s made the Irish perhaps the best team in the country outside of Baylor is their depth.

Notre Dame’s ability to overwhelm an opponent was on display in an impressive blowout of Tennessee-Martin on Sunday.

Four players scored in double figures, led by Jewell Loyd’s 27 points and Kayla McBride’s 22 points and 10 rebounds, as Notre Dame cruised to a 97-64 victory.

“Offensively, we were on. We shot the ball extremely well. Eight turnovers in the game, and you know, I thought it was a very good game considering we had not played since, I think 11 days since our last game,” McGraw said. “I thought we would be a little rusty but we really came out and looked sharp.”

The Hawkeyes have been an enigma all season – but they’re tough to beat when they’re on.

Iowa went just 8-8 in the Big Ten season, including five straight losses from late January until mid-February. But the Hawkeyes are also 7-3 against opponents who were ranked when they played them, including West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas and Purdue.