Aug. 18, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – One of the premier rivalries in women’s college basketball once again will take center stage on Jan. 16, when Notre Dame and Connecticut square off as the centerpiece of the first-ever ESPN women’s basketball College GameDay broadcast from Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. The matchup between the Fighting Irish and Huskies — one of two on the 2009-10 BIG EAST Conference regular season schedule — will tip off at 9 p.m. (ET) and will be televised live to a national cable audience by ESPN.
ESPN’s College GameDay will air live from Gampel Pavilion twice during the day on Jan. 16, first from 11 a.m.-noon (ET), and again from 8-9 p.m. (ET), the second broadcast leading directly into the network’s “Saturday Primetime” coverage of the Notre Dame-Connecticut game. GameDay, which made its debut in January 2005 with a Pittsburgh-UConn men’s basketball game, is hosted by Rece Davis, with expert analysis from former longtime Fighting Irish men’s basketball coach Richard “Digger” Phelps, legendary Indiana, Army and Texas Tech men’s basketball coach Bob Knight, former North Carolina standout Hubert Davis, former Duke great Jay Bilas and ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz.
“This is a historic announcement for all of women’s basketball,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “We are thrilled to be a part of this momentous day and look forward to joining Connecticut in representing the BIG EAST, which we consider to be the nation’s top women’s basketball conference. I’m sure our fans are eagerly anticipating this game and will team up with UConn’s supporters to make it a day to remember.”
The Fighting Irish and Huskies have played 26 times, all since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96. Connecticut leads the all-time series 22-4, and has won the past six meetings, most recently a 76-66 decision on Feb. 22, 2009, in Hartford, Conn., at the XL Center. In that game, the Fighting Irish held a 43-41 lead with 16:11 remaining in the game, marking the only time all season that Connecticut trailed in the second half. In addition, the 10-point margin of victory was the smallest for the Huskies during their 39-0 season.
Entering the 2009-10 campaign, 13 of the previous 26 matchups between Notre Dame and Connecticut have been sold out, including the 2001 NCAA national semifinal game won by the Fighting Irish, 90-75, at St. Louis’ Saavis Center (now Scottrade Center). Early indications are that both of the ’09-10 games between Notre Dame and Connecticut also will be sellouts, even though the actual date for the return engagement between the two teams in South Bend at the newly-renovated Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center has yet to be announced.
Notre Dame returns all 12 monogram winners and five starters from last year’s club that registered a 22-9 record and made its 14th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance (and 16th overall). The Fighting Irish also add the nation’s No. 9-ranked incoming freshman class (according to All-Star Girls Report), led by 2008-09 consensus national high school player of the year Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington).
The BIG EAST also will host ESPN’s College GameDay on Feb. 27, when Villanova travels to Syracuse for a men’s basketball clash at the Carrier Dome. With this year’s two selections, the BIG EAST continues to lead the way with 23 College GameDay appearances (home and away), while Syracuse will play host to the broadcast for the third time, tying Duke, Kentucky and Kansas for the most on-campus visits in the program’s history.
— ND —