May 6, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - While Notre Dame might be entering its second season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, there is still quite a bit that remains new for the Fighting Irish, according to their 2014-15 ACC schedule that was announced Tuesday morning by the conference office.
For the second consecutive season, the reigning ACC champion Notre Dame will play Boston College in a home-and-home series as one of its two "rival partners," but the Fighting Irish will have a new face filling the second dual opponent role next year, with Georgia Tech (a 20-game winner and NCAA Championship qualifier last year) replacing Duke as Notre Dame's "rival partner." The ACC's 16-game scheduling format features eight home and eight road contests, with schools playing every other institution once and two teams twice.
"The ACC is the toughest conference in the country, and that showed last year when we had eight teams make the NCAA Tournament, including two in the Final Four," Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. "The conference schedule prepared us extremely well for the postseason last year, and now when you add in another strong team like Louisville, it's going to be a challenge for us next season. There will be some exciting home games for our fans to see at Purcell Pavilion, and we'll also be making some trips to schools we haven't been to in quite a long time, so we will be tested each and every night we take the floor."
In addition to BC and Georgia Tech, the Fighting Irish will welcome the ACC's newest member, NCAA Championship Elite Eight participant Louisville to Purcell Pavilion next season, as well as fellow NCAA tournament qualifiers Duke (second round) and Florida State (first round), with the FSU set to make its first-ever trip to South Bend. Pittsburgh, Virginia and Wake Forest round out Notre Dame's ACC home schedule for 2014-15, and like Florida State, UVa is penciled for its initial game at Purcell Pavilion.
Conversely, the Fighting Irish will play five conference road games at campuses they have not visited in at least a decade, or in the case of two opponents, not at all. One of Notre Dame's new ACC road trips will take the Fighting Irish to North Carolina's historic Carmichael Arena to face a Tar Heel squad that reached the NCAA Elite Eight last season. Notre Dame also will travel to Clemson for the first time in program history, while making long-removed returns to Georgia Tech (the Fighting Irish last played in Atlanta in 1996), Virginia Tech (2003) and Miami (2004).
What's more, the Fighting Irish will play at North Carolina State for the second year in a row, while making their first trip to Syracuse since 2012, when both programs were members of the BIG EAST Conference.
Of Notre Dame's two "rival partners," Boston College has a longer history with the Fighting Irish, due to their previous shared conference membership in the BIG EAST from 1996-2005. Notre Dame leads the all-time series with BC, 14-5, and has won 11 of the past 13 games against the Eagles, including both ends of last year's ACC home-and-home series (95-53 at Purcell Pavilion; 82-61 in Chestnut Hill, Mass.).
Meanwhile, Notre Dame has played Georgia Tech just twice before, winning 76-69 at the 1996 Comfort Inn Downtown Classic in Atlanta, and earning an 87-72 victory last season in the teams' first-ever ACC matchup at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame is coming off one of the finest seasons in ACC women's basketball history, and certainly among the best by a new conference member, as the Fighting Irish went a perfect 19-0 against ACC foes during regular season and tournament play before adding a 20th win against now-former conference foe Maryland at the NCAA Women's Final Four in Nashville, Tenn. (the highlight of the ACC's eight-team showing in the NCAA Championship, its best collective performance as a league since 2006).
Last year, Notre Dame became the first conference member to win both the ACC regular season and tournament titles in its inaugural conference season, and the first ACC school to go 19-0 while doing earning both crowns since 2002-03. What's more, the Fighting Irish were the first ACC team from outside the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C., area (known as "The Triangle") ever to run the table in conference play.
Notre Dame won the 2013-14 ACC regular season championship by four games, becoming the fourth school to take the title by that margin, and the first since 2001-02. In addition, the Fighting Irish averaged 86.5 points per game in ACC play (the highest scoring total by a conference team in league play since 1990-91), and outscored its 16 regular-season opponents by 23.1 points per game (the largest winning margin in ACC play since 2006-07).
Tuesday's announcement brings further clarity to the 2014-15 Fighting Irish women's basketball schedule. In March, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Notre Dame will participate in the 2014 Hall of Fame Women's Challenge, playing host to Holy Cross (Nov. 23), Harvard (Nov. 24) and Quinnipiac (Nov. 25) -- there will be two games at Purcell Pavilion each day -- before the Fighting Irish head to Uncasville, Conn., on Nov. 30 to take on Kansas at Mohegan Sun Arena in the final game of the tournament.
Last month, ESPN and the V Foundation for Cancer Research revealed Notre Dame and Connecticut will hold a rematch of their 2014 NCAA national championship game on Dec. 6, 2014, at Purcell Pavilion in the 13th annual Jimmy V Women's Classic live on ESPN or ESPN2.
It also is expected that later this month, the ACC will unveil the pairings for the 2014 ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Notre Dame made its first-ever appearance in that event last season, earning a 77-67 victory at eventual Big Ten co-champion Penn State.
The full 2014-15 Fighting Irish women's basketball schedule will be announced at a later date, following approval from the University's Faculty Board on Athletics. A complete list of dates and tip times for all of Notre Dame's games next season, as well as any potential television coverage, also will be released at that point.
Notre Dame is expected to return two starters and 10 monogram recipients from its 2013-14 squad that posted a 37-1 record and advanced to the NCAA Women's Final Four for the fourth consecutive year (sixth time in school history), as well as the NCAA national championship game for the third time in four seasons (fourth time in program history). The Fighting Irish also were ranked No. 2 in the final 2013-14 Associated Press and Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today polls.
Next season, Notre Dame will be led by a consensus All-America guard in junior Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West), one of the nation's premier three-point shooters in junior Michaela Mabrey (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan), and two of the country's top young talents in sophomore point guard Lindsay Allen (Mitchellville, Md./St. John's College Prep) and sophomore forward Taya Reimer (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern). The Fighting Irish also will welcome a three-player freshman class that has been ranked as high as third in the nation by several national recruiting services, and includes the 2013-14 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year and 2014 McDonald's High School All-America Game Most Valuable Player, forward Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel).
For more information on the Notre Dame women's basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
Notre Dame Women's Basketball -- 2014-15 ACC Schedule Home ('13-14 Overall, Conference Record) Last Meeting vs. ND Boston College (12-19, 3-13) ND 82-61 (2/13/14 @ BC) *Duke (28-7, 12-4) ND 69-53 (3/9/14 @ Greensboro, N.C.) *Florida State (21-12, 7-9) ND 83-57 (3/7/14 @ Greensboro, N.C.) *Georgia Tech (20-12, 9-7) ND 87-72 (2/17/14 @ ND) *Louisville (33-5, 16-2) ND 83-59 (3/11/13 @ Hartford, Conn.) Pittsburgh (11-20, 3-13) ND 109-66 (1/16/14 @ PITT) Virginia (14-17, 6-10) ND 79-72 (1/12/14 @ UVa) Wake Forest (15-16, 5-11) ND 86-61 (2/20/14 @ WF)
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director