NOTRE DAME, Ind. –The 2011-12 Notre Dame men's basketball team, coming off of a 27-7 campaign and a season in which the Irish finished undefeated at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center for the third time in five years, will play 17 nationally-televised games during the upcoming season. The slate also features two BIG EAST matchups against defending national champion Connecticut and contests against 12 teams that played in the 68-team NCAA tournament field in 2011.
Head coach Mike Brey, who garnered national coach-of-the-year and BIG EAST coach-of-the-year honors at the end of last season, begins his 12th campaign along the Irish sidelines. Over the past four seasons, he has helped guide the Irish program to its most prolific four-year stretch in program history. Notre Dame's 27 wins a year marked the most ever in the modern era for an Irish team to secure their fifth straight 20-win campaign, while the team's 96-42 record (.696) since 2007 is the best four-year record in school history.
Notre Dame also will begin the season riding a 19-game home win streak at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Over the course of the last five seasons, Notre Dame has been the only school nationally to go undefeated at home in three seasons (Duke and Kansas have done it twice), while its 84-6 record at home for a .933 winning percentage is the sixth best among NCAA Division I schools. The Irish also own the best record among all BIG EAST teams in regular-season conference games over the same time span with a sterling 39-5 record for an .886 winning percentage.
Notre Dame's 17 television appearances include 16 on ESPN's family of network and one on CBS.
In what has become tradition over the past several years, the Irish open up their exhibition season by playing two Catholic schools. This season, Notre Dame plays St. Xavier on Nov. 1 and Stonehill on Nov. 7.
The Irish will play eight games in 18 days during the month of November to start off the '11-'12 campaign. The season begins in earnest with a first-ever matchup with Mississippi Valley State on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 2:00 p.m. (EST).
Notre Dame will be making its second appearance in the CBE Classic (former Guardians Classic) when the Irish play host to Detroit on Monday, Nov. 14 at 9:00 p.m. (EST), in a game that will be televised on ESPNU as part of the South Bend Regional. Two nights later, Notre Dame takes on Sam Houston State on Wednesday, Nov. 16 in a continuation of the tournament.
The Irish will wrap up the first week of the season by playing Delaware State on Friday, Nov. 18 at 9:30 p.m. (EST).
Notre Dame then travels to Kansas City, Mo., for the championship rounds of the CBE Classic at the Sprint Center. The Irish meets Missouri in the first semifinal game on Monday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2. The semifinal matchup with the Tigers will be the first since Jan. 12, 1995 in Columbia, Mo., when Missouri defeated the Irish 64-56.
There have been eight previous meetings between the two schools dating back to 1980 with the first on March 8, 1980. Missouri leads the series 6-2with the Irish's last win, 77-73, coming at Notre Dame on Jan. 12, 1994. The other Notre Dame victory also was at home as the Irish took down the Tigers, 98-67, on March 3, 1990.
Notre Dame's final game of the tournament will be against either California or Georgia in the consolation or championship to be televised at either 7:45 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. (EST) on ESPNU or ESPN2.
Ironically, Notre Dame's matchup against either the Bears or Bulldogs will be a rematch for the Irish against two opponents they faced last year at the 2010 Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. Notre Dame defeated the Bulldogs in double overtime 89-83 in a come-from-behind victory to open up the tournament and then took down the Bears 57-44 in its second-round game en route to winning the championship crown with a 58-51 victory over Wisconsin.
Notre Dame and California have met twice with the series tied at 1-1, while the Irish own a 2-0 advantage in its series with the Bulldogs.
The Irish return home to face Bryant on Sunday, Nov. 27, before heading to Spokane, Wash., for a rematch against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at 11:15 (EST) on ESPN2. Notre Dame and Gonzaga met for the first time a year ago in 2010 with the Irish coming away with an 83-79 victory.
Brey's squad tips off the month of December on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 4:45 p.m., against Maryland in the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center. Notre Dame will be making its third appearance in the annual Washington, D.C., event. The Irish own a 10-8 advantage in the series between the two schools. Each of the last two meetings between the two schools has occurred at the BB&T Classic with Notre Dame coming away with victories in each of those contests.
The Irish return to Purcell Pavilion for back-to-back home games against Maine and Dartmouth on Thursday, Dec. 8 and Saturday, Dec. 10 with both games tipping off at 7:30 p.m. (EST).
Following a one-week break for final exams, Notre Dame meets Big Ten rival Indiana in the inaugural Crossroads Classic at Conseco Fieldhouse. The game between the Irish and the Hoosiers is part of a doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 17. Purdue and Butler meet in the first game followed at 2:00 p.m. (EST) followed by Notre Dame and Indiana at 4:30 p.m.(EST).
The Irish and Hoosiers have not played each other since the first round of the Maui Invitational as Notre Dame came away with a 88-50 victory in November of 2008. The Hoosiers lead the all-time series 47-21.
Notre Dame closes out the non-conference portion of its schedule against Sacred Heart on Monday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Conference Round-upThe BIG EAST season commences at Purcell Pavilion as Notre Dame and Pittsburgh face off in the first conference regular-season game of the season on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 7:00 p.m. (EST) in a game that will be televised nationally by ESPN2.
Eight days following the opener, Notre Dame travels to Cincinnati for a matchup against the Bearcats on Wednesday, Jan. 4 and then makes a first-ever appearance at Louisville's KFC Yum Center for a 4:00 p.m. (EST), matchup on ESPNU.
Notre Dame then plays three of its next four at home starting with a Tuesday, Jan. 10 matchup against USF on Tuesday, Jan. 10 before its Saturday, January 14 contest versus Connecticut in a rare 11:00 a.m. (EST) start time on ESPN2 in the first of two meetings between the two teams.
The Irish take on Rutgers on Monday, Jan. 16 at 9:00 p.m. (EST) at the RAC on ESPNU that will mark the first of two regular-season contests scheduled between the two teams. Notre Dame returns home for its Saturday, Jan. 21 matchup against Syracuse on ESPN at 6:00 p.m. (EST).
Brey's unit will then play the final two games of January on the road against Seton Hall (Jan. 25) and the Huskies (Jan. 29) in what will mark the second regular-season contest between the two schools.
The month of February tips off with a CBS game at Purcell Pavilion against Marquette on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 1:00 p.m. (EST) before the Irish travel to Morgantown, West Va., for the first of two regular-season meetings of the season between Notre Dame and West Virginia on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 9:00 p.m. (EST) in a game slated for ESPNU.
Notre Dame and DePaul renew their storied rivalry on Saturday, Feb. 11 in the only matchup of the season between the two schools. That game will be followed by the second meeting of the '11-'12 campaign against Rutgers on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7:00 p.m. (EST) on ESPNU.
The Irish travel to Villanova to take on the Wildcats on Saturday, Feb. 18 and then return home to face the Mountaineers for the next time in 14 days on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7:00 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2.
The month of February closes with a two-game weekend East coast road swing as Notre Dame takes on St. John's on Saturday, Feb. 25 in a noon matchup on ESPN followed by an ESPN Big Monday Showdown against Georgetown on Monday, February 27 at 7:00 p.m. (EST).
The regular season concludes for the Irish on Friday, March 2 at home against Providence before heading to New York City for the annual BIG EAST Championship at Madison Square Garden that will run from March 6-10. Notre Dame is the only school that has appeared in the tournament semifinals each of the last two years.