MOUNT PLEASANT - The Central Michigan women's basketball program will play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country in 2012-13.
Coming off their second-straight 20-win season and WNIT appearance, the Chippewas are guaranteed to play five NCAA Tournament qualifiers from the 2011-12 season, highlighted by a game versus NCAA Tournament runner-up Notre Dame inside McGuirk Arena November 29.
The Irish ranked No. 2 in the final USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, No. 4 in the Associated Press poll and were No. 2 in the final NCAA Women's Basketball RPI.
"We're very excited to host the NCAA Tournament runner-up in Notre Dame," head coach Sue Guevara said. "I want to thank Coach McGraw and her staff for giving us the opportunity to compete against them. It really shows that our program has grown and is taking the steps toward being not only one of the best teams in the MAC, but in the country. We want to go in, lace up our shoes and compete with everything we have. Our kids are really looking forward to it and we are hoping that our fans will come out and fill McGuirk."
The Chippewas will open their season with three-straight road games, concluded with the first of two matchups versus 2012 Horizon League regular season and tournament champion Green Bay. The Phoenix went 31-2, falling to Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and ranked No. 10 in the final AP poll and No. 13 in the final USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.
The rare same-season home and home versus the Phoenix will conclude when the Maroon and Gold play host December 5.
Following the opening three-game road trip, the Chippewas will kick off their home schedule with a visit from 2012 Summit League regular season and tournament champion South Dakota State. The matchup versus SDSU will be the second of five straight versus NCAA Tournament teams for the Chippewas.
A trip to 2012 Big Ten Tournament champion Purdue will follow the Notre Dame contest and open the month of December. The Chippewas defeated then No. 12 Purdue, 75-62, in 2011, marking their second consecutive victory over a ranked opponent at home.
Robert Morris will visit McGuirk Arena for the last home game of the 2012 calendar year December 17.
A pair of holiday tournaments face the Maroon and Gold as they will travel to Gainesville, Fla., for the Gator Holiday Classic and an opening-round matchup versus St. Joseph's December 20. CMU will play either NCAA Tournament qualifier and host Florida or Savanah State to wrap up the tourney.
The second tournament features a trip to San Diego, Calif., a week later and will slate the Chippewas versus host San Diego in the opening game. The Toreros advanced to the semifinals of the 2012 WNIT before falling to eventual champion Oklahoma State. CMU will then play yet another NCAA Tournament team when they square off versus either Texas or Iowa to conclude the tournament.
The Chippewas will open 2013 with their final non-conference tilt of the season when they host Marquette of the Big East Conference January 2.
"We are not going to see anything in our conference schedule that we won't have already seen in the non-conference schedule," Coach Guevara said. "Our kids are going to be battle tested and there is no substitute for experience. The ultimate goal is to win the MAC Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament and our non-conference schedule will provide our players with the experience they need to play top-level competition and in front of very good crowds.
CMU went 20-16 in 2011-12 to advance to the WNIT where they fell to Illinois State for the second consecutive season. CMU returns its top six scorers from last year's squad that advanced to the MAC Tournament championship as the No. 5 seed.