As hard as it may be to believe, the 2010 Irish basketball opener is less than six weeks away. Notre Dame released both the men's and women's 2010-2011 regular season schedules this week, and both schedules hold many challenges for the Irish.
The women open their season on Nov. 3 with an exhibition game against Michigan Tech at Purcell Pavilion. Their regular season opener is on Nov. 12 against New Hampshire, and their first road game is at Kentucky on Nov. 21. Less than two weeks later, the Irish will travel to Waco, Tex., to face Baylor — the only former NCAA champion Notre Dame has never played. The Bears won the National Championship in 2005, and advanced to the Final Four last year, only to lose to eventual champion Connecticut.
The Irish will face Connecticut twice this season, on Jan. 8 and at Connecticut on Feb. 19. Irish coach Muffet McGraw said she sees the match-ups with teams like Connecticut and Baylor, or any of the other nine teams on the Notre Dame schedule that played in the NCAA Tournament last season, as beneficial for the Irish in the long run.
"I think when you talk about the schedules we've had through the years, this has to rank right up there as one of the most challenging ones we've put together," McGraw said in a press release Monday. "Our philosophy has always been to test ourselves during the non-conference season in order to prepare for the demands of playing in the Big East, which is the toughest conference in the country."
The Irish men will take the court at Purcell Pavilion two days before the women, opening with an exhibition game against Marian University on Nov. 1 before their season opener on Nov. 12 against Georgia Southern.
Georgia Southern opens a four-game homestand for the Irish, which then head to the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. At the Old Spice Classic, Notre Dame will play Georgia on Thanksgiving night, and then either California or Temple on Nov. 25. The Irish will play one more game on Nov. 28 against either Boston College, Texas A&M, Wisconsin or Manhattan.
Notre Dame plays three teams in the Big East twice, while playing the other 12 only once. This year's three teams for a home-and-home series are Connecticut, Marquette and St. John's. The Irish host Connecticut on Jan. 4 and travel to Storrs, Conn., on March 5. They host Marquette on Jan. 22 and travel to Milwaukee, Wis., on Jan. 10, and host St. John's on Jan. 8 before traveling to New York on Jan. 16.
The men's Big East Championship will be March 8-12 in New York City while the women's Championship will be March 4-8 in Hartford, Conn.