SOUTH BEND, Ind. -It's been more than a month since Notre Dame lost a basketball game.
When the Fighting Irish suffered a 65-58 loss at Rutgers on Jan. 16, Notre Dame's record stood at 11-8. It was going to have to finish strong or miss out on the NCAA Tournament.
Since that game, the Irish have been on a roll. Not only have they reeled off an eight-game winning streak, but among the victims are Syracuse, Connecticut, Marquette, Villanova and West Virginia.
The Mountaineers were a 55-51 victim of the Irish on Feb. 8 at the Coliseum in Morgantown. Come Wednesday night, exactly two weeks after that loss, WVU travels to the Purcell Pavilion for a rematch with Notre Dame.
Once could say this a matchup of two teams headed in opposite directions. While Notre Dame (19-8 overall, 11-3 Big East) not only has righted its ship and virtually punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament, West Virginia has floundered for the past month.
Since beating Marshall in the Charleston Civic Center on Jan. 18, the Mountaineers' only win in regulation time came last Thursday at Pittsburgh, where WVU avenged an earlier loss in the Coliseum by beating the Panthers, 66-48, in the last time the two rivals will meet as members of the Big East Conference.
Even with that win, WVU (17-10, 7-7) needs to add to its resume to be assured of an NCAA Tournament bid. A win over Notre Dame could well be West Virginia's signature victory.
But it obviously won't come easy.
WVU has lost its last 10 games at Purcell Pavilion. The Mountaineers haven't won there since 1996 when Gale Catlett's WVU squad downed the Irish. That is one of just three WVU wins at Purcell, with the others coming in 1972 and 1987.
West Virginia hopes to do the same thing to Notre Dame it did to Pittsburgh -avenge an earlier home loss. A loss that came thanks to Notre Dame being patient, using up most of the shot clock and taking West Virginia's crowd out of the game as much as that it is possible. WVU had fought back from a 12-point deficit and actually led with 2:34 to go before Notre Dame stuck a dagger in the Mountaineers with a pair of late 3-pointers.
Notre Dame junior Jack Cooley had 21 points and 12 rebounds in that game, which earned him Big East Player of the Week honors. Guards Scott Martin and Jerian Grant has 12 points each for Notre Dame.
West Virginia, meanwhile, was led by freshman guard Jabarie Hinds with 17 points while Deniz Kilicli added 16 and Kevin Jones was held well under his average with just 14 points. In that game, West Virginia made just 2-of-16 3-point attempts and shot just three free throws, making one.
This could be a tough week for WVU. After traveling to Notre Dame for Wednesday's game, the Mountaineers barely get back to Morgantown before taking on Marquette on Friday night at the Coliseum.
Obviously, by the time the week is over we will know much more about WVU's postseason status. The Mountaineers began the week as a No. 9 seed in the bracketology feature on ESPN.