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You talk about a bracket-buster: Florida State's 71-57 upset win over Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament last night shredded the right side of my tourney sheet -- especially since I had the Fighting Irish playing Duke in the championship game in Houston.

I wasn't alone, either. Notre Dame, after all, was the no. 2 seed in the Southwest region. It was a gritty member of the elite (well, at the time, anyway) Big East Conference. And the Irish started five seniors, including Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough.

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Didn't matter. The Seminoles of the ACC waxed them. Notre Dame came out looking listless and confused by the aggressive Florida State defense. And the Irish, held to 31 per cent shooting, couldn't buy as basket all night. Hansbrough (18 points) was 5-of-13 from the field and fouled out with 3:19 left.

I've never been a big fan of Irish coach Mike Brey. He's always seemed suspect as a tactician and was again last night, when he should have had the Irish pressing -- or at least changing defenses -- much earlier than he did.

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Now the Notre Dame athletic staff has to figure out what it wants to do with a program that finished 27-7, but is now 1-4 in the round of 32 games under Brey and headed home -- again -- after the first weekend of the Big Dance.

It makes you wonder whether the Irish punched themselves out after battling all season in the tough Big East.

Even though the conference sent a record 11 teams to the tournament, only two -- the University of Connecticut and Marquette -- are still standing.

There might be a lesson in there somewhere.

Or there might not.

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