Louisville and UConn will play at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Dec. 4, as the two former Big East rivals on Friday became the first women’s basketball traditional powers to release nonconference schedules for the upcoming season.
UConn announced that it will play six nonconference games, with four games in the state of Connecticut as well as road games at Baylor and Tennessee. In addition to the game against Louisville, UConn will play Quinnipiac on Nov. 28 and either Mississippi State or Maine on Nov. 29 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge. That event also will take place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
While the Big East has yet to release an official conference schedule, UConn also announced that it will play 20 Big East games. As it stands, that leaves the Huskies with 26 scheduled games.
The NCAA Division I Council announced last month that women’s teams can schedule a maximum of 25 games if they do not participate in a multiple-team event or 23 games if they do participate in a multiteam event, such as the Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge, that includes up to four additional games. An NCAA spokesperson confirmed Friday that those rules remain in place.
A UConn spokesperson said that because the program had been approved to schedule 29 games and a two-game multiteam event before the new COVID-related reductions, it was told that it needed to reduce its original schedule by four games, also per the Division I Council ruling and superseding the 23/25 maximums. That means UConn could, in theory, still schedule an additional nonconference game that would push its schedule to 27 games.
Louisville will play five non-ACC games, with all but the game against UConn taking place at home or within a 200-mile driving distance. In addition to home games against Eastern Kentucky and Bellarmine, a new Division I program also located in Louisville, the Cardinals will travel to Middle Tennessee State and Cincinnati.
Former Big East rivals who also played for the national championship in 2009 and 2013, Louisville and UConn have played just three times since both left the Big East following the 2012-13 season (with UConn returning to the conference this season). That appeared unlikely to change after Louisville coach Jeff Walz said in May that a game this season between the two schools in the New York City area would not take place because of attendance concerns from organizers due to potential coronavirus restrictions.
But with Notre Dame dropping off UConn’s schedule this week, opting to delay the start of a four-year contract between the schools and play all of its nonconference games close to campus, Louisville filled the vacancy on UConn’s schedule.