Notre Dame to play Akron in Chicago

Updated: March 13, 2011, 11:05 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Notre Dame is sticking close to home for its NCAA tournament opener.

The second-seeded Irish (26-6) will play the 15th-seeded Akron Zips (23-12) in Chicago on Friday in a Southwest Regional game at the United Center.

"I'm proud of our group to earn a two seed," coach Mike Brey said. "We haven't been in two-seed territory in our program in a long, long time. Not only is it great for this team, I think it's great for our program, and I think it's a little bit of a -- maybe an exclamation point on the consistency that this program has been for 11 years.

"We're thrilled that we get to go to Chicago. You know, I think that could become a little bit of a Joy Center West, Purcell Pavilion West for us."

Should the Irish advance past the first round they would face the winner of No. 7 Texas A&M versus No. 10 Florida State.

Last year the Irish were a sixth seed, but lost in the first round to Old Dominion. Brey said the memory of that loss has motivated them since they returned last summer.

"Yeah, I think for us to mention it is the key, but as we go there, you can't play afraid to lose, and I don't think this group really ever has," Brey said. "This group has gone for it, and I've got to prepare them that way. You know, you've got to stay as loose as possible in a one-and-done situation and play."

In other Chicago games, No. 3 Purdue, winner of 10 of its last 12 games, will play the 14th-seeded St. Peter's Peacocks, while No. 6 Georgetown will play the winner of a First Four matchup between 11th-seeded USC and Virginia Commonwealth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.