May 23, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The BIG EAST Conference has determined the breakdown of home and away opponents for the 2005-06 women’s basketball season, the league office announced Monday. The conference will expand to 16 teams for next season, with the addition of Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida, all of whom become full members of the league on July 1.
Although the number of teams will increase in 2005-06, the conference will continue to play a 16-game schedule with all teams competing in a single-division format. Schools will play seven opponents at home and another seven on the road, with teams playing the remaining institution twice (once at home, once on the road), designated as the “repeat” opponent.
Next season, Notre Dame will have DePaul as its “repeat” opponent, rekindling a rivalry that began more than two decades ago when both schools competed in the now-defunct North Star Conference. However, the two schools have met just twice in the past 10 seasons, with each side winning on its home court. On Dec. 31, 2001, Notre Dame downed the Blue Demons, 79-50 at the Joyce Center, before DePaul returned the favor with a 75-59 victory on Dec. 11, 2002 in Chicago. Last season, the Blue Demons were ranked among the top 25 teams in the country for much of the campaign, posting a 26-5 record and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Besides DePaul, Notre Dame will play host to Connecticut, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, Seton Hall, South Florida and Villanova during the 2005-06 season. Four of those schools qualified for postseason play, led by UConn’s NCAA Sweet 16 berth and WNIT appearances for Marquette, South Florida and Villanova.
Conversely, the Irish will visit conference foes Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Rutgers, St. John’s, Syracuse and West Virginia next year. Highlighting that docket is Rutgers, which advanced to the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament and was ranked among the top 10 in both polls at season’s end. Louisville also qualified for the NCAA Tournament, while St. John’s and West Virginia both participated in the WNIT (WVU fell at Southwest Missouri State in the title game).
Notre Dame recently completed its 10th season of competition as a BIG EAST member. The Irish have a 137-31 (.815) record in conference games, owning the best regular-season winning percentage of any team in league history. They also have finished among the top three teams in the final conference standings nine times in their 10-year BIG EAST affiliation.
Notre Dame carded a 27-6 record in 2004-05, matching the third-highest win total in school history, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Irish will have three starters and nine monogram winners returning from that club, along with a pair of talented freshmen — guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett HS) and forward Chandrica Smith (Stone Mountain, Ga./Oak Hill Academy (Va.)) — who comprise the nation’s 16th-ranked recruiting class, according to Blue Star Index.
Dates and times for Notre Dame’s conference and non-conference games, as well as any television coverage for those contests, will be announced at a later date.
— ND —