Nov. 5, 2001
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The defending NCAA champion University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team is ranked 14th in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 preseason poll released Monday evening. The Irish, who finished first in the final coaches’ poll last season, have now been ranked for a school-record 57 consecutive weeks in the ESPN/USA Today poll, dating back to the start of the 1998-99 season.
Five of Notre Dame’s 2001-02 opponents are ranked in the initial Top 25 survey of the season. Connecticut (whom the Irish will play Jan. 21) was slotted first, while Purdue (Dec. 6) was ninth and Michigan (Dec. 2) was ranked 20th. Rutgers (Feb. 16) placed 23rd and Colorado State (Nov. 21) was tabbed 25th in the preseason polling. In addition, seven other Irish opponents (Virginia Tech, Boston College, Arizona, DePaul, Marquette, USC and Villanova) received votes in the first coaches’ poll of the year.
Last season, under the guidance of 2001 national coach of the year Muffet McGraw, the Irish posted a 34-2 record en route to their first-ever national championship. Seven monogram winners return from that squad and will team up with the third-best recruiting class in the country to form the backbone of the 2001-02 unit. Notre Dame will open its exhibition season Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. (EST) against the Ohio Girls’ Basketball Magazine Legends at the Joyce Center. The regular season kicks off Sunday, Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. (EST) when the Irish open defense of their NCAA title against Valparaiso at the Joyce Center.
– ND –