Oct. 19, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
Non-conference games. ACC games. The ACC Tournament. For the Notre Dame women’s basketball team, it all points to the final proving ground of the NCAA Championship.
The Irish will receive an ideal preview for the conditions they will face in the NCAAs come March right at the start of the season as Notre Dame competes in the Preseason WNIT. Starting with the season-opener on Nov. 11 against Central Michigan and continuing through the potential championship game on Nov. 20, all of the games involving the Irish will be played at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
Like the NCAAs, the Preseason WNIT will see the Irish playing games on tight turn-around windows against opponents to be determined on only a few days’ notice. Much like March Madness too, all of these matchups will be predicated on the Irish claiming victories in the previous rounds of the event.
Central Michigan posted a 22-11 record a year ago, claiming the MAC West divisional championship and advancing to the postseason WNIT after narrowly missing the NCAA field.
Should the Irish defeat the Chippewas on Nov. 11, they would face either Furman or Fordham in the quarterfinals on Monday, Nov. 14. A victory over either the Paladins or Rams would propel Notre Dame into a Nov. 17 semifinal against Green Bay, Elon, Little Rock or North Texas. A win there would leave the Irish in contention for a championship on Nov. 20 against one of eight potential schools from a list headlined by 2016 NCAA Final Four participant Washington.
“We’re thrilled with the chance to play in the Preseason WNIT once again,” Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame’s Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach, said this summer when the tournament bracket was unveiled. “We have played Central Michigan in the past and they will be a tough first-round matchup. They have an up-tempo, high-octane offense and are a strong defensive team. It will be a challenge for us in our season opener, and I hope our fans are as excited as we are about the start of (this) season.”
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball and men’s golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.