The Notre Dame women's basketball team has been predicted to finish 11th in the BIG EAST Conference this season, according to a preseason poll of the league's coaches that was released Thursday at the annual BIG EAST Media Day in New York.

Women's Basketball To Make 11th Consecutive NCAA Tournament Appearance

March 13, 2006

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the 11th consecutive season, and the 13th time in school history, Notre Dame has earned a berth in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. The Irish are the No. 9 seed in the Albuquerque Region and will play eighth-seeded Boston College Sunday at 7 p.m. (ET) at Mackey Arena on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Ind. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 as part of that network’s “whiparound coverage,” with the South Bend market expected to see the game in its entirety, while the majority of the country will be shuttled around between four games in that time slot. Top-seeded Ohio State and No. 16 seed Oakland will square off in the other first-round Albuquerque Region game at West Lafayette, with the two first-round winners advancing to a Tuesday night contest at a time to be determined.

Tickets for Notre Dame’s first-round contest in the NCAA Tournament may be purchased through the Purdue Athletics Ticket Office by calling (800) 497-7678 or (765) 494-3194. The single-session price is $15 (adults)/$12 (students and youth), while all-session tickets are available at a cost of $40 for adults and $30 for students/youth. Due to limited ticket availability and high demand, the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office will not be selling tickets to NCAA first- and second-round games. Plans are being finalized for a fan bus trip to West Lafayette, with details forthcoming shortly.

“We are very excited to be chosen for this year’s NCAA Tournament,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “We had some ups and downs this season, but when it mattered most, everyone came together and contributed and we were able to get the job done. Now, it’s a clean slate and everyone is on a level playing field going into the NCAA Tournament. We know Boston College is going to present a tremendous challenge, but we’re embracing that opportunity and looking forward to facing them this weekend.”

Notre Dame (18-11, 8-8 BIG EAST Conference) opened the season by winning nine of 11 games, including the Duel in the Desert out in Las Vegas in mid-December, and rose as high as 10th in the national polls. The Irish then struggled during the early portion of the BIG EAST schedule, leading to two rare three-game losing streaks, the first for the program in eight seasons. However, Notre Dame came on strong in the final weeks of the campaign, winning four of its last five games, including a key 73-66 conquest of South Florida in the opening round of the BIG EAST Championship.

Notre Dame is 22-11 (.667) all-time in NCAA Tournament play, having won each of its past 10 NCAA first-round games and advancing to the Sweet 16 (regional semifinals) six times in the past nine years. The Irish also have made two NCAA Final Four appearances and won the national championship in 2001. Notre Dame has been a No. 9 seed on one other occasion, that coming in 1998 when the Irish defeated eighth-seeded Southwest Missouri State, 78-64 and No. 1 seed Texas Tech, 74-59, both in Lubbock, Texas, en route to a berth in the Sweet 16.

Boston College (19-11, 6-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) is a familiar face to most Irish fans, as the Eagles were members of the BIG EAST prior to this season when they joined the ACC. BC won 12 of its first 14 games this season, including an important victory over Pac-10 Conference power Stanford, and narrowly dropped a 66-61 overtime decision to Ohio State. The Eagles then went on a four-game losing streak to open their inaugural ACC season before bouncing back with seven consecutive wins. Yet, Boston College will enter this weekend’s NCAA match-up with Notre Dame on a five-game losing streak, most recently dropping a 57-54 verdict to Virginia in the opening round of the ACC Tournament.

The Irish and Eagles have played 14 times before in their history, with Notre Dame holding a 10-4 lead in the series. Last year, the teams faced off in a home-and-home series during BIG EAST play, with the Irish winning both times (64-57 in South Bend; 54-47 at Chestnut Hill). Sunday’s game will mark the first time ever Notre Dame and Boston College have met in the postseason and the first time they will play at a neutral site.

The winner of Sunday’s Notre Dame-Boston College game will move on to face the winner of the other opening-round contest in West Lafayette between No. 1 seed Ohio State (28-2) and 16th-seeded Oakland (15-15). The Irish are 1-1 all-time vs. Ohio State and met the Buckeyes just last season, winning 66-62 at the Joyce Center in the Preseason WNIT championship game. Notre Dame has met Oakland on the hardwood once before, defeating the Golden Grizzlies, 100-51 on Dec. 9, 1987 at the Joyce Center during McGraw’s first season as the Irish head coach.

— ND —