However, Colson and Farrell each knocked down two free throws down the stretch to come away with the 67-64 victory and advance to the second round of the ACC Tournament. If they can beat the Irish, they could perhaps move themselves off the 8-9 seed line for the NCAA Tournament that most believe they are on right now.
Irish freshman Paul Gota prepares to serve during Notre Dame's 7-0 win over Toledo on February 25 at Eck Tennis Pavilion. Colson had been averaging 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds - both second among ACC players - and also led the team in blocks and steals.
Kevin Stallings' team cut Notre Dame's lead to three points midway through the second half.
Since there is so much emphasis on Quad 1 wins this year and Quad 3 and 4 losses are always bad. On Sunday, Bennett earned his third ACC coach of the year honor after guiding Virginia to its third outright ACC regular-season title in the last five years. Taking down a Virginia Tech team that is now slated to be in the field of 68 would be a quality victory for the tournament committee to consider when analyzing Notre Dame's resume.
Farrell, a 6-foot-1 guard, missed five games in January, but he's been back for more than a month.
"I think there are moving pieces there", added Kelly, who promoted long-time assistant Jeff Quinn to replace line coach Harry Hiestand, who returned to the Chicago Bears. "It's a great challenge for us, the way they spread you out with guards and the way they shoot".
"We have a lot of fun here, a lot of success, but it's different this year", Farrell said after the game. That contest's most important development might not have been Colson's production but his endurance; afterwards Brey told Colson he'd played him back into shape, the game offering what no conditioning test could.
Added Brey: "I nearly feel that they deserve some good fortune now after going through it all, but we'll need more than good fortune against the Hokies".
From 1997 through 2011, either Duke or North Carolina won the ACC Tournament every year but once.
The biggest are on offense, where the Irish must replace running back Josh Adams, who left a year early after rushing for 1,430 yards, and the left side of the offensive line anchored by guard Quenton Nelson and tackle Mike McGlinchey, who are expected to be top National Football League picks. Four Notre Dame players played at least 33 minutes Tuesday. "We are thrilled to escape", Brey said.
In an era of bloated conferences, the first day of most league tournaments is reserved for bottom-of-the-standings teams that are hoping for a longshot championship run to an automatic NCAA Tournament bid, but are usually just playing out the string or angling for the NIT. "We were there three hours a day, side by side", Farrell said.
After Wilson-Frame's miss, Notre Dame's T.J. Gibbs sank two free throws.
Notre Dame shot just 16.7 percent from the field in the second half Tuesday. "We kind of looked at each other", assistant coach Ryan Humphrey said, "and said, 'We're back'". In fact, the Panthers were the only team in all of college basketball this season to fail to notch a win against a conference opponent.
Two things were evident to start out the game. "I just wanted to really level with them", Brey said.