Irish earn 5th seed; to face George Mason in Denver

Mike Brey's Irish may get a rematch with Winthrop after all.

The Eagles upset Notre Dame in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

The two will meet in the 2nd round of the 2008 Tourney if both teams win their opening round games.

The Irish are the 5th seed in the East Region and will play 12th seeded George Mason in the 1st round Thursday at approximately 9:50pm EST in Denver.

"We are thrilled and honored to head to Denver and face George Mason," Irish head coach Mke Brey said live on Newscenter 16 at 6, just minutes after Notre Dame found out where they will play.

George Mason was the ultimate Cinderella in 2006 when they reached the Final Four as a mid-major. They have three players back from the team that made that run.

Notre Dame finished with a 24-7 record and were 3rd in the Big East with a 14-4 conference mark.

"We're excited," Brey continued. "I'm proud of our group for earning that seed, and now it starts over again."

The winner faces 4th seed Washington State or 13th seeded Winthrop in the 2nd round on Saturday.

"We dodged Winthrop in the Virgin Islands because we lost," Brey says with a smile. "Maybe we'll see them again, but of course they have a tough draw too."

Notre Dame enters the tourney coming off a loss to Marquette in the Big East Quarterfinals, but the Irish still exceeded many expecations.

"I think they are very confident, and I want them to be," Brey says. "It's a great feeling to wake up this morning and know you are going to be in that bracket."

If the Irish advance to the Sweet 16, they could play Indiana.

The Hoosiers are also in the East Region. IU received an 8 seed, despite a very successful season that saw them in the top 15 for most of the year.

The Hoosiers will face Arkansas in Raleigh Friday night at 9:40pm. The winner will likely face top-seeded North Carolina on Sunday.

IU enters the tourney having lost three of its last four games.

Purdue will be the 6th seed in the West Region and face 11th seeded Baylor in Washington DC at approximately 2:50 on Thursday.

Baylor is coached by Penn grad Scott Drew.

They will face the winner of 3rd seeded Xavier and 14th seeded Georgia.

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