Senior All-America guard Kayla McBride and her Notre Dame teammates will face Duke and Boston College twice, while also hosting Miami, North Carolina and Syracuse as part of the 2013-14 ACC women's basketball schedule that was released Wednesday.
May 29, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- One of the nation's budding women's basketball rivalries and the revival of another dormant series highlight Notre Dame's 2013-14 Atlantic Coast Conference schedule that was announced Wednesday afternoon by the league office.
The Fighting Irish will face Duke and Boston College twice during their inaugural ACC season, and also will welcome NCAA Championship second-round participant North Carolina and first-round participants Miami (Fla.) and Syracuse to Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, as part of the 16-game conference slate. The current ACC scheduling format features eight home and eight road contests, with schools playing every other institution once and two teams twice -- a matrix that mirrors what Notre Dame experienced last year during its final campaign in the BIG EAST Conference.
"This sets up to be a very exciting and challenging schedule for us in our first season in the ACC," Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. "There are so many talented programs across the board in this conference and we'll be tested each and every night. All of us associated with the Notre Dame women's basketball program -- coaches, players and fans -- are looking forward to seeing some old friends and new faces during our initial year in the ACC, and doing our part to help make this the best women's basketball conference in the country."
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Duke, 6-1, having defeated the Blue Devils each of the past two seasons, including an 87-76 victory on April 2, 2013, in the NCAA Norfolk Regional final (Elite Eight) at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va.
Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish will renew acquaintances with Boston College, a program they faced annually when both sides were members of the BIG EAST from 1996-2005. Notre Dame holds a 12-5 edge in the series against BC, most recently sweeping a non-conference home-and-home set against the Eagles in 2007 (88-58 at Purcell Pavilion) and 2008 (102-54 in Chestnut Hill, Mass.).
Clemson, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will be the other three ACC teams to visit Notre Dame next season.
The Fighting Irish also have a tricky road schedule lined up during conference play, with trips to NCAA Sweet 16 participant Maryland, second-round qualifier Florida State and WNIT second-round competitor North Carolina State on the docket. Pittsburgh, Virginia and Wake Forest round out Notre Dame's initial set of ACC road games, a slate that features three campuses the Fighting Irish have never visited (Florida State, North Carolina State and Wake Forest), as well as one (Virginia) they have not played at since McGraw's first season at Notre Dame in 1987-88.
Clemson and Florida State will be the lone first-time opponents on the Fighting Irish conference schedule, although Notre Dame has faced four other ACC foes three times or fewer in its respective series histories (North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia and Wake Forest).
Wednesday's announcement adds several more pieces to the puzzle for the 2013-14 Fighting Irish women's basketball schedule. Earlier this month, the ACC revealed Notre Dame would play Penn State in the 2013 Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Dec. 4 in University Park, Pa.
The full 2013-14 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 four starters and nine monogram recipients from its 2012-13 squad that posted a 35-2 record and advanced to the NCAA Women's Final Four for the third consecutive year (fifth time in school history). The Fighting Irish, who were ranked No. 2 in the final 2012-13 Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls, also are coming off the program's second consecutive outright BIG EAST regular season title (third overall) and their first BIG EAST Championship crown in their final year in that conference.
Next season, Notre Dame will be led by a pair of senior All-Americans in guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) and forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary's Catholic), along with sophomore guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West), who is the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year. The Fighting Irish also will welcome a four-player incoming class that has been ranked as high as third in the nation by several national recruiting services.
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.