We can add tonight's huge win to this wonderful record.
At 7-0 in the BIG EAST and 20-0 overall, Syracuse is off to its best start in men’s basketball program history and looks poised to make a run deep into March (or maybe even early April for the Final Four in New Orleans). But as several other #1 teams have learned over the past few decades, beating Notre Dame on its home court is no easy task.
Notre Dame's most notable victory over a #1 team came 38 years ago this week, on Jan. 19, 1974, when the #2 Irish ended UCLA's historic NCAA-record 88-game winning streak. Interestingly enough, it was Notre Dame that had last defeated the Bruins, nearly three years earlier on Jan. 23, 1971.
Other top-ranked opponents to fall at the Purcell Pavilion (Joyce Center) include San Francisco (1977), Marquette (1978), DePaul (1980) and most recently, North Carolina (1987). The Irish also defeated #1 Virginia on Feb. 22, 1981 at Rosemont Horizon in Chicago. Notre Dame has played 30 games against opponents ranked first in the Associated Press Poll since the 1951-52 season, and the Fighting Irish have compiled a 7-23 record during that time (They are 9-23 if you count the 1954 and 1981 victories over Indiana and Kentucky, respectively, teams that were #1 in the Coaches Poll, but not the AP). Though the .233 winning percentage is nothing to write home about, Notre Dame has fared well in the Purcell Pavilion, where it has won its last five contests against top-ranked teams. That last home loss was in 1973, when John Wooden's Bruins won in the midst of their unprecedented streak. Since the victory over North Carolina on Feb. 1, 1987, the Irish have lost to five #1teams, but all of these games were played away from the comforts of campus. Knocking off Syracuse will be no easy task, but if the Fighting Irish are to come through with their biggest win in quite some time, they only need to look at their history of playing on the big stage in the Purcell Pavilion. Other statistics about Notre Dame vs. #1 AP teams:
-- 10: Number of games against UCLA
-- 6: Number of games against Kentucky
-- 4: Number of games each against Indiana & Duke
-- 5-8: Record when Notre Dame was ranked
-- 2-15: Record when Notre Dame was unranked
-- 0-10: Away record
-- 6-3: Home record
-- 1-10: Neutral site record
-- 2-5: January record