For the first time in a quarter-century, one of the best rivalries in women’s college basketball could be on hold.
Notre Dame and UConn will not play each other in the 2020-21 regular season after agreeing to restructure their four-year deal due to COVID-19-related restrictions, the schools announced on Monday.
Notre Dame vs. UConn on hold for 2020-21
The prominent women’s hoops schools restructured their non-conference deal due to scheduling issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. NCAA Division I women’s basketball programs are allowed a maximum of 25 regular-season games. Schools played around 30 total in 2019-20.
The most recent year without a regular-season meeting was in 2013-14, but they met in the NCAA championship game. UConn won its second of four consecutive titles with four-time Most Outstanding Player Breanna Stewart.
They could still meet in the NCAA tournament. The last time the two schools didn’t play each other at all in a season was 1993-94.
The ACC, which Notre Dame plays in, played an 18-game conference schedule last season. Their non-conference matchups included UConn and Tennessee. According to ESPN, Notre Dame said it expects to have a 20-game conference schedule and keep its remaining handful of non-conference games close to South Bend.
The Huskies had a 16-game conference schedule in the American Athletic Conference. They will play their first season back in the Big East, where the Irish and Huskies used to square off constantly.
Game pushed back to 2024-25 in deal
The restructured deal moves this year’s scheduled game to the end of the contract. The series will start in 2021-22 at UConn and go back and forth for home sites until 2024-25.
The game was to be the first between longtime UConn coach Geno Auriemma and first-year Irish coach Niele Ivey. Ivey, a former point guard for the Irish, replaces Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw after she stepped down in April.
Notre Dame lost in the first round of the 2020 conference tournament, a brutal ending to a rough year marred by injuries and too many new faces. The team lost all five of its starters — 94.4 percent of its scoring — from the runner-up 2019 team that won the 2018 title.
The Huskies lead the all-time series, 38-13, and won each of the past six regular-season meetings. But the Irish beat them in the Final Four in 2018 and 2019.
They were in jeopardy of missing the Final Four for the first time in 13 years, but the NCAA tournament was canceled due to the pandemic. The situation never played out. They add No. 1 ranked recruit Paige Bueckers to the roster.
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