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Preview of the Fighting Irish’s 2012-2013 Schedule

Oct 29, 2012, 1:38 PM EDT

Preseason excitement has already begun to build as Skylar Diggins and the women’s basketball team at Notre Dame gear up for the 2012-2013 season. The Fighting Irish have finished the past two seasons as runners-up to the national champion, and they’ll be looking to capture the title this year, star player Diggins’ final year.

It will be a tough road, but head coach Muffet McGraw is optimistic: “We have a strong core group of players who understand what it means to compete in the BIG EAST against some of the best players and programs in the nation.”

The Irish were voted second best in the BIG EAST in a preseason poll of the coaches behind Connecticut, but Diggins is hoping for more: “That’s not our ultimate goal, and we’ll be working hard every day to go out and defend the Big East regular-season championship we won last year.”

Despite losing three starters to graduation, the team certainly has a shot at winning it all, but teams including Baylor, Tennessee, and UConn stand in the way. Baylor, after going undefeated last year en route to a national championship, received the top spot in preseason rankings, and Tennessee is a perennial women’s basketball powerhouse. UConn is ranked second in the country; the Irish will face the Huskies twice in the regular season and likely again in the BIG EAST tournament.

Additionally, Notre Dame has games scheduled against UCLA, Louisville, St. John’s, and Rutgers. None of these teams will present the Irish with easy wins—UCLA, preseason ranked third in the PAC-12, will return nearly all of their starters, and Louisville, St. John’s, and Rutgers are ranked third, fourth, and fifth in the BIG EAST, respectively.

The full schedule can be found here.

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