While most of us have been focused on trying to figure out the best offensive line arrangement for ND moving forward, this week brought us some exciting basketball news to briefly distract us, with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s and women’s basketball full schedules dropping on Wednesday (women’s) and Thursday (men’s).
The women’s schedule is highlighted by some pretty intriguing non-conference match-ups, including Georgia (finished #13 in the country last season) and Oregon State (likely Top-25 this season) in the Daytona Beach Invitational, Michigan State (also likely Top-25) in the B1G/ACC Challenge, and of course a tiny little match-up with some team from Connecticut in early December.
The conference slate features games against 3 teams who finished last year in the Top 25, including a Sweet 16 team (NC State) and an Elite 8 team (Louisville). Both those opponents are considered Top-10 caliber squads heading into 2021-2022, and several others (FSU, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech) are likely Top-25 teams.
Niele Ivey has her work cut out for her in her 2nd season as head coach, no doubt.
The men’s schedule was released yesterday evening and features a similar assortment of fun and interesting games both in and out of conference.
Mike Brey’s squad will play a couple tune-up exhibition games before jetting off to Maui to defend their 2017 Maui Invitational title. They’ll begin that tournament by playing St. Mary’s (CA), and from there will play either Oregon or Chaminade and then a third team, pending game results, from this group: Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Butler, and Houston.
Despite a rough last few years, ND fans are hoping that a veteran team with some nice added pieces (transfer big man Paul Atkinson, freshman Blake Wesley, etc.) will have a chance to surprise some folks on the week of Thanksgiving, and maybe even give us another Maui Brey moment to cherish forever.
Following Maui, this veteran team looking to make its first NCAA Tournament since the 2016-2017 season will play non-conference games at Illinois, vs. Kentucky at Purcell, and against Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in what will be the final Crossroads Classic ever.
Between those three games and Maui, Brey and his boys will certainly have some opportunities for nice resume-building non-conference wins in the first two months of the season.
The conference schedule begins in December for the men’s team, but the first two games against BC and Pitt will hopefully be very winnable games (despite both being on the road) before the new year slaps the Irish in the face with the typical ACC gauntlet: starting January 1st, the Irish host Duke (in Coach K’s farewell tour) and North Carolina in back-to-back games, and then play at Georgia Tech, vs. Clemson, and at Virginia Tech before a MLK Day respite at Howard.
The rest of the way, the Irish will face teams like Louisville and NC State twice while also playing second games against BC, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Pittsburgh. They get Virginia and Syracuse at home but will have to go on the road for Florida State in early March.
Many of these conference games will be broadcasted on either the ACC Network or RSN, but hopefully most of the others will land on one of the more accessible ESPN channels.
All in all, it’s fun and exciting to finally see how both the women’s and men’s schedules shaped up, and considering both programs are trying to find their footing after some recent down seasons, it’s exciting to look ahead to some very important schedules for the future of Irish basketball, even while we’re just now getting into the heart of football season and hoops remains more than a month away.