Notre Dame Announces 2012-13 Women's Basketball Schedule Two-time NCAA national runner-up Fighting Irish to make at least 14 national/regional TV appearances, face up to 13 NCAA tournament qualifiers as part of rugged slate.
Hall of Fame head coach Muffet McGraw begins her 26th season at Notre Dame in 2012-13, leading the Fighting Irish against a challenging schedule that could feature up to 13 games against teams that played in last year's NCAA Championship (including defending champion Baylor and Final Four participant Connecticut).
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- An outdoor game on an aircraft carrier, potential rematches with its opponents from the past two NCAA national championship games, the latest installments in the nation's most intriguing women's college basketball rivalry and a pre-Christmas tournament in Las Vegas highlight the unique and demanding 2012-13 Notre Dame women's basketball schedule that was released Thursday afternoon following approval by the University's Faculty Board on Athletics.
The two-time reigning NCAA national runner-up Fighting Irish could play up to 19 of their 29 regular-season games against teams that advanced for the postseason last year, including 13 against NCAA Championship participants, a group that is led by defending national champion Baylor and fellow 2012 NCAA Women's Final Four qualifier Connecticut, as well as Elite Eight squad Tennessee and Sweet 16 teams St. John's and (possibly) Texas A&M.
In total, Notre Dame has 14 regular-season home games on this year's schedule, with Baylor (Dec. 5), Connecticut (March 4), Purdue (Dec. 29), Louisville (Feb. 11) and Rutgers (Jan. 13) all slated to visit Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center during the 2012-13 campaign.
Notre Dame also will play a minimum of 14 national or regionally-televised games, plus another seven home contests that will be streamed live and free of charge through the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com. With one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive television packages, the Fighting Irish will play eight times on the ESPN family of networks (four on ESPN2, including three as part of the famed "Big Monday" telecast), as well as an early January appearance on CBS for the third consecutive season. What's more, Notre Dame has three games scheduled to air on the CBS Sports Network, one as part of the BIG EAST Regional Game of the Week syndicated package, and one on the Pac-12 Network, with the strong possibility that additional Fighting Irish games will be selected for commercial television coverage in the coming weeks.
A handful of tip times for Notre Dame's 2012-13 schedule have yet to be announced, due to either pending non-conference television considerations, tournament bracketing scenarios or because the host school has not yet determined the start time. The Fighting Irish have played in 227 televised games in the past 13 seasons (1999-2000 to present), including 147 national TV contests, an average of 17 TV games and 11 national broadcasts during that span.
Notre Dame also begins its 17th season of full-time commercial radio coverage this fall, as the LeSEA Broadcasting Network and Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) will air every Fighting Irish women's basketball game live to more than 1.5 million listeners in the Michiana area and worldwide on UND.com, with veteran broadcaster Bob Nagle calling the play-by-play.
"We have always followed the idea that our non-conference schedule prepares us for the BIG EAST season, and the conference schedule gets us ready for the NCAAs, and this year's schedule fits that philosophy extremely well," Notre Dame's Hall of Fame head coach Muffet McGraw said. "We're going to see a variety of different styles of play during the non-conference season and we're going to be playing in some unique environments that may take us out of our comfort zone. We're also on national TV quite a bit and we have several instances where we're playing on a Saturday-Monday or Sunday-Tuesday format, which will reflect what we will see in the NCAA tournament. There will be a lot of challenges for us, but it's a schedule that should be both highly beneficial for us and entertaining for our fans."
The Fighting Irish posted a 35-4 record in 2011-12 (setting a school standard for wins in a season), advancing to the NCAA national championship game for the second consecutive year and earning their second BIG EAST regular season title. Notre Dame also finished the season ranked second in the final ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll and fourth in the year-end Associated Press poll, extending their streak of AP poll appearances to a school-record 96 weeks, with 58 of those spent in the top 10 (including the past 19, also a program record).
Notre Dame is expected to have two starters and eight players returning in 2012-13, along with a three-player freshman class that was ranked as high as third in the nation by All-Star Girls Report and is a consensus top-10 class by all major recruiting services. It's the 16th consecutive year that the Fighting Irish have attracted a top-20 recruiting class, with Notre Dame being one of only three schools in the country to hold that distinction.
Notre Dame's 2012-13 schedule opens Nov. 1 with a 7 p.m. (ET) exhibition contest against Edinboro (Pa.) at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Scots were one of the premier NCAA Division II squads last season, rolling to a 30-2 record and peaking at No. 2 in the ESPN/USA Today Division II poll before an upset loss to eventual Division II champion Shaw in the NCAA Atlantic Regional final.
The Fighting Irish tip off the regular season at 4 p.m. (ET) Nov. 9, venturing to Charleston, S.C., to take on Ohio State in the second annual Carrier Classic on the deck of the USS Yorktown (a decommissioned aircraft carrier moored on the grounds of the Patriots Point Naval Museum). It will be the first women's basketball game played as part of the unique event, which began last year's with a men's contest between North Carolina and Michigan State on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego.
This year's Carrier Classic is a doubleheader, with the men's game to feature Marquette and Ohio State in the nightcap. The event was created by the Morale Entertainment Foundation, an organization created to support the men and women of the United States armed forces by providing them with world-class entertainment. This year's Classic venue, the USS Yorktown, was a veteran of World War II (earning 11 battle stars) and the Vietnam War (five battle stars), as well as the recovery ship for the Apollo 8 space mission, and its deck will be transformed into a 4,000-seat arena for the basketball doubleheader -- in case of inclement weather, the games will be relocated to McAlister Fieldhouse on the campus of The Citadel.
Notre Dame and Ohio State will be meeting on the hardwood for just the third time, having split the prior two matchups. The schools last played Nov. 20, 2004, at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish edging the Buckeyes, 66-62 in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
Notre Dame will open the home portion of this year's schedule at 2 p.m. (ET) Nov. 18 against Massachusetts, followed two days later by a contest with Mercer. The Fighting Irish haven't faced UMass since defeating the Minutewomen, 90-72 at the National Women's Invitation Tournament (NWIT) -- the precursor to the current WNIT -- in Amarillo, Texas. Meanwhile, Notre Dame plays Mercer for the second consecutive season, after defeating the Bears, 128-42 last year in Macon, Ga. (in a homecoming game for now-graduated Fighting Irish guard and Atlanta native Fraderica Miller).
Notre Dame closes out the month of November with a pair of road games, starting with a trip to UCLA on Nov. 23 for a noon PT (3 p.m. ET) contest that will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network. The Fighting Irish, who will be making their first visit to Pauley Pavilion since 1997, last played the Bruins on Nov. 18, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion, dropping a narrow 85-83 decision in double overtime. Notre Dame then heads to Mount Pleasant, Mich., on Nov. 29, to meet Mid-American Conference runner-up Central Michigan in a 7 p.m. (ET) clash at McGuirk Arena. The Fighting Irish also made this trip in 2007, defeating the Chippewas, 94-41.
December tips off in grand style for Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish welcome Baylor to Purcell Pavilion for a 7 p.m. (ET) rematch of the 2012 NCAA national championship game, won by the Lady Bears, 80-61 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. This year's contest -- which marks Baylor's first-ever visit to South Bend -- will be televised live nationally on ESPNU. Notre Dame then plays host to first-time opponent Utah State at noon (ET) Dec. 8, before going on an 11-day hiatus for final exams.
Following the break, the Fighting Irish return to action at the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas. Notre Dame will start the six-team tournament (see PDF bracket at top of this release), organized by Basketball Travelers, Inc., against another first-time foe, Alabama A&M at 3 p.m. PT (6 p.m. ET) on Dec. 19 inside UNLV's Cox Pavilion, located adjacent to the Thomas & Mack Center. With a victory, the Fighting Irish would meet the loser of the first-round game between Kansas State and Texas A&M at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET on Dec. 20, while a loss would send Notre Dame into a 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET matchup on Dec. 20 with the loser of the first-round contest between UNLV and Old Dominion.
The Fighting Irish also played in Las Vegas in 2005, winning another Basketball Travelers tournament, the Duel in the Desert, with victories over Arkansas State (77-54) and Utah (68-55). This year's bracket could see Notre Dame take on K-State in the semifinals, the first time the teams would meet since the second round of the 2003 NCAA Championship, when the 11th-seeded Fighting Irish toppled the third-seeded Wildcats, 59-53 in Manhattan, Kan. The Fighting Irish also might square off with Texas A&M during the World Vision Classic in what would be a rematch of the 2011 NCAA national championship game won by the Aggies, 76-70 in Indianapolis.
As for the other World Vision Classic participants, Notre Dame is 1-5 all-time against Old Dominion, but hasn't played the Monarchs since Jan. 2, 1994 (a 76-67 loss in Norfolk, Va.). The Fighting Irish have yet to square off UNLV in women's basketball.
On the other side of the Christmas holiday, Notre Dame will wind up the balance of its non-conference schedule with home games against in-state rival Purdue (2 p.m. ET, Dec. 29) and Saint Francis (Pa.) (1 p.m. ET, Dec. 31). The Fighting Irish are in the midst of a series-long six-game winning streak against the Boilermakers, while the contest with Saint Francis will mark the second time in three seasons Notre Dame has played host to a New Year's Eve matinee (the Fighting Irish shaded Vanderbilt, 74-69 in 2009).
Notre Dame raises the curtain on its BIG EAST schedule at 4 p.m. (ET) Jan. 5 with the first of two matchups against perennial rival Connecticut. The initial clash, which will be played at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn., will be televised live on CBS, the third consecutive season (and sixth time in program history), the Fighting Irish will have played on the traditional early January CBS national women's basketball broadcast. Notre Dame and Connecticut have battled eight times in the past two seasons, with each side winning four times, although the Fighting Irish captured both of the highest-profile victories in the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Women's Final Four national semifinals (72-63 in Indianapolis and 83-75 in overtime in Denver, respectively).
Following a second road game to open the conference slate at South Florida (Jan. 8), Notre Dame comes back to Purcell Pavilion to play four of its next five games, including a challenging stretch of three games in seven days against 2012 NCAA Championship participants Rutgers (Jan. 13), Georgetown (Jan. 15) and St. John's (Jan. 20). The Rutgers and St. John's contests will be Sunday matinees that will air live on ESPNU, will the CBS Sports Network will televise the Georgetown matchup.
A visit to Pittsburgh (Jan. 23) and a home game with Providence (Jan. 26) set the stage for Notre Dame's final non-conference outing of the season, a Jan. 28 trip to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on Tennessee on ESPN2's Big Monday. The Fighting Irish will be playing in Thompson-Boling Arena for the first time since 2006, and will be seeking their third consecutive win over the Lady Vols, having defeated them in the 2011 NCAA Dayton Regional final (73-59) and last year in the regular season at Purcell Pavilion (72-44).
Notre Dame opens February with its annual Pink Zone contest, welcoming Cincinnati to town at 2 p.m. (ET) Feb. 2. In the past four years, the Fighting Irish have raised nearly $500,000 for breast cancer research and awareness in the South Bend community through the Pink Zone initiative (rebranded nationally last year as Play4Kay), and they will look to challenge last year's record-setting donation total of nearly $205,000, which was tops in the nation (the third year in a row Notre Dame has been among the national fundraising leaders for this cause).
The Fighting Irish will be tested in the final month of the regular season, playing four out of five on the road from Feb. 5-24, including nationally-televised visits to Villanova (Feb. 5 - CBS Sports Network), Marquette (Feb. 17 - ESPN2 Play4Kay) and DePaul (Feb. 24 - ESPNU). Sandwiched among this stretch is a home contest against Louisville on Feb. 11, with the 9 p.m. (ET) game at Purcell Pavilion slated to be televised as the nightcap of ESPN2's Big Monday doubleheader.
Notre Dame also will play two of its final three regular-season games at Purcell Pavilion, starting with a tussle against Syracuse on Feb. 26, with the 7 p.m. (ET) game to be televised on CBS Sports Network. The Fighting Irish then play both of their repeat BIG EAST opponents to close matters, visiting Providence on March 2 (4 p.m. ET on BIG EAST Game of the Week TV syndicated package), then returning home to tangle with Connecticut on March 4, with that 7 p.m. (ET) meeting earning prime-time television coverage on ESPN2's Big Monday.
Less than a week later, Notre Dame heads to Hartford, Conn., for the 2013 BIG EAST Championship, which is scheduled for March 8-12 at the XL Center, marking the 10th consecutive season the conference tournament will be held at that venue.
The vast majority of 2012-13 Notre Dame women's basketball season ticket packages (including all lower-arena seats) have been sold, as the Fighting Irish look to build upon last year's school-record attendance average of 8,571 fans per game, which ranked fifth in the nation and included a school-record eight sellouts (giving the Fighting Irish a staggering 19 sellout crowds in the past three seasons). Depending upon the renewal rate for current season ticket packages, a limited number of season tickets will be freed up and go on sale next Tuesday, Sept. 18 -- they are available by contacting Notre Dame's Murnane Family Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356 or visiting the ticket windows inside Gate 9 (Rosenthal Atrium) at Purcell Pavilion. Tickets also can be ordered on-line 24 hours a day with a major credit card at UND.com/tickets.
Packages start as low as $65 per person for individuals and $52 per person for full-time Notre Dame faculty/staff, while four-ticket "Fan Packs" are as low as $186 ($152 for faculty/staff). Notre Dame, Saint Mary's and Holy Cross students are admitted free for all home games (while supplies last), with advanced pickup recommended due to limited seating availability.
Any remaining single-game tickets for the 2012-13 Notre Dame women's basketball home schedule will go on sale Oct. 9 (a pre-sale for season ticket holders will take place Oct. 8) for as little as $8 for adults and $5 for youths 21 and under and seniors 55 and older (tickets for the Baylor and Connecticut games will be $12 for adults and $5 for youths and seniors). In addition, a limited number of tickets for each home game may become available during the week prior to, or the day of, that contest due to visiting team returns and other considerations.
With all Fighting Irish ticket purchases, standard processing fees and service charges do apply.
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.
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2012-13 FIGHTING IRISH SCHEDULE NOTES: Up to 12 of Notre Dame's potential opponents (accounting for as many as 13 regular-season games) were ranked in either the Associated Press or ESPN/USA Today polls at the end of last season -- #1/1 Baylor, #3/4 Connecticut, #9/7 Tennessee, #13/18 Purdue, #14/15 St. John's, #16/22 Ohio State, #18/17 Georgetown, #19/16 Louisville, #22/12 Texas A&M*, #23/RV Rutgers and #RV/24 DePaul, while potential World Vision Classic opponent Kansas State received votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll at the close of the 2011-12 campaign ... in addition to the rigorous BIG EAST schedule (rated No. 2 in the last year's final Sagarin ratings), Notre Dame could meet teams from as many as 12 other conferences, including four of the other top five (aka the BCS conferences) and six of the other top nine nationally, during non-league play: #1 Big 12, #3 SEC, #5 Big Ten, #6 Pac-12, #8 Atlantic 10 and #9 Colonial* ... according to the final 2011-12 RPI ratings released by the NCAA, Notre Dame could play up to 14 games against teams that were in the RPI top 50, including 11 against RPI Top 25 squads ... all told, 13 regular-season opponents on Notre Dame's schedule had 20-win seasons (plus potential World Vision Classic opponents Kansas State, Texas A&M and UNLV), with five registering 25-win campaigns (two others had 24 wins, including Texas A&M) and two topping the 30-win mark ... four potential opponents won either regular-season or postseason conference titles last year (Baylor - Big 12 regular season/tournament; Connecticut - BIG EAST tournament; Purdue - Big Ten tournament; Tennessee - SEC tournament) ... the combined overall record last year for Notre Dame's scheduled 2012-13 regular-season opponents was 484-335 (.591), with the four potential World Vision Classic foes combining for a 77-56 (.579) record a season ago. (* - potential World Vision Classic opponent)