By now, the identity of college basketball's premier spoiler should be quite clear. It's Notre Dame. Last Sunday the Fighting Irish ended another glittering winning streak, Virginia's longest-in-the-nation unbeaten string of 28 games (the Cavaliers suffered a second setback on Wednesday, losing to Wake Forest 73- 66). The telling shot in Notre Dame's victory was an 18-foot, buzzer-beater by Orlando Woolridge, who hit nothing but net after missing on a wild attempt near the basket only seconds earlier.
Against the game's most formidable teams, the Irish have demonstrated an uncanny knack for winning. Their first land- mark upset occurred in 1974, when they terminated UCLA's unmatched run of 88 straight victories, beating the seemingly invincible Bruins 71-70. San Francisco, another top-ranked team, fell in 1977, losing 93-82 after going 29 games without a defeat. Last year it was DePaul's turn, as Notre Dame snapped the 25-game streak of the No. 1 rated Blue Demons, 76-74.
Generally, the Irish save their best efforts fro nationally televised games played in Notre Dame's frenzied Convocation Center. Though the site of Sunday's victory was the Rosemont Horizon, a new arena in suburban Chicago, a highly partisan crowd made it seem like South Bend.
Under Coach Digger Phelps, Notre Dame has developed a basketabll program to rival its traditionally strong football team. The Irish have yet to win their first national basketball championship, but they're a cinch to make their eighth consecutive appearance in the NCCA tournament this March. Their highest finish to date was fourth in 19 78.