October 16, 2018

Schedule preview: Notre Dame headlines ACC slate for WBB

By Conner Farrell —

Our final stop on the Louisville basketball schedule preview is a look at the conference slate for women’s basketball.

U of L secured the ACC regular season title and first-ever ACC tournament title last season. It was also the first time the program won the regular season in their conference since 2001 (Conference USA) and conference tournament since 1993 (Metro Conference).

Their 15-1 conference record tied the program’s highest, which was set in the 2015-16 season.

With the team returning the likes of All-American senior guard Asia Durr and senior forward Sam Fuehring, it’s not out of the question for the Cardinals to replicate their successful performances from the prior season.

Here are two exciting conference games to mark on your calendar.

At Notre Dame Jan. 10

Each time Notre Dame and Louisville square off on the hardwood the women’s college basketball world takes notice.

Perhaps U of L’s biggest rival in the ACC, the Cards will get their first real conference test on the road against the defending national championship.

Although the Fighting Irish ended up on top of the college basketball world after an NCAA championship, the Cards beat them every time they met during the season.

This includes a memorable 100-67 thumping at the KFC Yum! Center when Notre Dame was ranked No. 2 and Louisville No. 3.

Two of their three losses at the hands of the Cardinals were Notre Dame’s only defeats all season.

The Fighting Irish, led by Naismith Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw, have remained one of the most dominant forces in women’s college basketball in their 32 seasons guided by McGraw.

This year will be no different for Notre Dame as they return all three of their  top scorers from last season including Second Team All-American and 2018 NCAA title game hero senior guard Arike Ogunbowale (20.8 points per game), and junior guard Jackie Young (14.5 points per game).

Also returning is senior point guard Marina Mabrey, who lead the team in assists last season with 168. Mabrey is a dangerous threat from deep, as her 85 three-pointers were most on the team in 2018.

U of L will have its work cut out for them as this matchup will be their third game in the conference season. Unlike last year when the teams met twice in the regular season, the Cards will only have one crack at Notre Dame this time around.

Like years past, the U of L/ND bout will be watched by everyone in women’s college basketball with both teams poised to be highly ranked.

At Florida State Jan. 24

The last time they linked up, the Seminoles dealt the Cardinals their first loss of the 2018 in a 50-49 slugfest. The defeat was the lowest point turnout for Louisville last season.

It is safe to say head coach Jeff Walz and his squad will be looking for revenge this season.

Florida State, who finished last season ranked no. 11, was upset in the 2018 NCAA tournament as a three-seed by 11-seed Buffalo.

Since then, the Seminole roster has completely changed and the team will have to replace all five of their starters.

FSU only returns one player out of their top-four scorers last season in junior guard Nicki Ekhomu (10.1 points per game).

Nonetheless, the ‘Noles offset this massive roster chance with a pair of top-50 recruits in guards Izabela Nicoletti and Kourtney Weber.

Even though the Seminoles may be in the midst of a bridge-year this season, this is not a game to overlook in the conference schedule. That’s especially true as the Cardinals will be looking to redeem their 2018 performance.

U of L will play a total of 16 games in the conference slate.

With high hopes for another great run like last season, each of these 16 matchups is crucial for the Cards in preparation for postseason tournaments.

The team begins the season on Nov. 6 against Western Kentucky.

You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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