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Brey said he emphasized to his team, especially after some rough stretches, that they had to keep playing the same unselfish style.

“No group in the country, certainly in the top seeds, relies on the sum of its parts more than us,” Brey said. “We need all our parts kind of doing their thing or we can be kind of average.”

Not that the Irish needed motivation, but they certainly have not forgotten last season’s one-point loss to Old Dominion in their NCAA tournament opener.

“One of the things that drove our group all summer was they didn’t win a first-round NCAA tournament game,” Brey said.

Beating the Zips and then getting out of Chicago won’t be easy. If they do get past Akron, the Irish will play the winner of Texas A&M and Florida State on Sunday in the home arena of the Chicago Bulls.

The No. 2 seed is Notre Dame’s highest since also receiving a second seed in 1981 under Digger Phelps. The Irish go into the tournament with 12 wins in their past 14 games. It’s just that the loss to Louisville still hurts.

Hansbrough, who was 3 for 16 with six turnovers in that game, said he was just ready to get back on the floor and practice.

“I think we can beat anybody in the country,” he said. “If we’re playing well, I don’t think there is one team in the country we can’t beat.”