Notre Dame returns to the largest stage in college basketball

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DAYTON, OH -- The day has arrived where Notre Dame men's basketball returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years to take on Rutgers University.

After a tough campaign last season it was important for the Irish to make to be in the conversation as one of the countries best 64 teams.

"I think we felt we have a pretty strong resume finishing second in the league, that we were going to have a shot at this thing and that’s all we can ask," said Notre Dame Men's Basketball Head Coach Mike Brey.

November 22nd is when the Irish first hit the hardwood this season.

Coach Mike Brey and his players knew what the goal was from the moment they started the season.

To get back to the big dance.

"I’ve missed the logos. I’ve missed, yesterday we stretched to the song one shining moment. I’ve missed all that. Man, I’m channeling all of it," said Brey.

"You think of all the special moments around this time and it’s really exciting that you grow up and now you’re living it. You’re a team that can go make something happen and make some noise so it’s really awesome," said Notre Dame Men's Basketball senior Paul Atkinson.

Coach Brey described the atmosphere in his home when the team gathered to hear their name called on selection Sunday.

"Thankfully our name flashed up within the first five minutes because I have been in tensed locker rooms, I ain’t never been in a tensed, my house has never been tensor as we were sitting there. And I'm sitting there going, what’s the speech if we don’t get in. Because there’s no way we were playing in the NIT There’s no way I could’ve got these guys to play in the NIT," said Brey.

Now that the Irish are in, the mission is to be part of the best 64 teams in the country.

"I told them I said and if we get it done, we’re flying right to San Diego after the game and we’re hanging and sleep is extremely overrated during the NCAA tournament time," said Brey.

One unique thing about tonight’s matchup is 36 years ago the fathers of Blake Wesley of Notre Dame and Ron Harper junior of Rutgers played against each other in a conference championship fighting for a chance to play in March Madness.

During that matchup, Derrick Wesley and the Ball State Cardinal's won the game.

Both Derrick Wesley Sr and Ron Harper Sr made the March Madness tournament.

The winner of the matchup, will play Alabama in San Diego, California on Friday.

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