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June 29, 2012
Don’t look for the Notre Dame men’s basketball team to catch any scheduling breaks this winter.
Thursday, the Big East announced the league opponents and game sites for the 2012-13 season, and Notre Dame - which likely will be projected among the top portion of the teams in the league - learned its conference opponents, including four repeat foes.
The Irish will play Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville and St. John’s twice each, one more than the typical three repeat opponents with the departure of West Virginia to the Big 12.
Two of Notre Dame’s four repeat opponents likely will be among the pre-season favorites to win the Big East.
“Louisville, Syracuse?Marquette lost some seniors, but they’ve got a heckuva crop getting eligible,” said Irish head coach Mike Brey to Irish Illustrated last week. “I still think Cincinnati is going to be right in there.
“We’re going to be picked in that top four, which means we’re going to be playing a lot of Saturday-Mondays. That means we’re going to play a heckuva TV schedule, and if you play a heckuva TV schedule, you’re playing some good teams.”
Notre Dame’s conference games at Purcell Pavilion will include Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, St. John’s, Connecticut, Georgetown, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Villanova.
Road trips will lead to Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John’s, Syracuse and South Florida.
Last season, the Irish won eight of nine conference home games, falling only to Connecticut, which once again will visit the Irish at Purcell Pavilion. This marks the first time in five years that the Irish haven’t played the Huskies twice during the regular season.
Notre Dame has lost its last three trips to Cincinnati, including last season’s 71-55 setback the first week of January. On the flip side, the Irish have won three in a row over DePaul in Chicago and seven in a row overall.
Notre Dame ended a seven-game losing streak against the Cardinals in Louisville last season. That marked the first victory by the Irish over the Cardinals in Louisville since 1958.
The Irish have struggled in Madison Square Garden against St. John’s, falling by three in late February last season to extend their road losing streak to the Red Storm to four.
The Irish have lost five of their last six against Marquette in Milwaukee, although an overtime victory over the Golden Eagles in early March of 2010 propelled Notre Dame to an unexpected NCAA tournament bid.
Notre Dame will return to Pittsburgh’s Peterson Events Center, where the Irish upset the Panthers in January of 2011. The Irish have won six straight against the Friars at Providence’s Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Notre Dame has lost its last two games at Syracuse by a combined 31 points, but upset the No. 1-ranked and undefeated Orange at Purcell Pavilion last season. Steadily improving South Florida has lost to the Irish four of five times in the Bulls’ Sun Dome.
Meanwhile, the Irish have dominated most of their opponents at home. Notre Dame is 100-7 at Purcell Pavilion over the last six seasons, including an impressive 47-6 home mark (.887) against Big East foes.
The Irish have never lost to Cincinnati at home in five tries. DePaul has lost four in a row to the Irish at Purcell Pavilion. Louisville will be shooting to end Notre Dame’s three-game winning streak at home over the Cardinals. Only a Luke Harangody injury has prevented the Irish from winning seven in a row at home over St. John’s.
Notre Dame has won six of its last nine home tilts against Connecticut, although the Huskies claimed a 14-point victory in mid-January of last season. The Irish have won five out of six against Georgetown at home with a double-overtime loss in 2006 the only recent blemish.
The Irish tend to struggle at Rutgers’ Louis Brown Athletic Center, but have won seven straight over the Scarlet Knights in South Bend. Seton Hall hasn’t defeated the Irish at Purcell Pavilion since 2001 - a streak of six straight victories.
Notre Dame lost five out of six at home against Villanova from 1982-2002, but has won two of the last three.
“The strength of our league schedule,” said Brey, “is going to be A+.”
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