The Nebraska women's basketball team has put the finishing touches on a challenging 2012-13 non-conference schedule, Coach Connie Yori announced on Friday, July 6.
"This schedule is going to challenge us throughout the non-conference season and hopefully prepare us well for Big Ten play," Yori said. "The Big Ten sent a record seven teams to the NCAA Tournament last year, and we think it will be one of the deepest conferences in the country again this season. We will have to be ready to play every night."
The Huskers return four starters, including National Player-of-the-Year candidates Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore, from a team that went 24-9 overall and 10-6 in their first season in the Big Ten in 2011-12. Nebraska will face what promises to be one of the top schedules in school history. Including their projected Big Ten schedule, the Huskers will play 18 games against 2012 postseason qualifiers, including 10 in their final home season at the Devaney Center. NU is scheduled to play 12 games overall against 2012 NCAA Tournament teams.
"Although we return four starters we are still pretty young," Yori said. "We only have four juniors and seniors combined on our roster, and the other nine players are freshmen and sophomores. We are going to be playing some really good basketball teams from start to finish during the season, so our young players are going to have to grow up fast for us to be successful."
The highlight of the Huskers' non-conference season will come against Maryland in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at the Devaney Center. The Terrapins finished No. 6 in the NCAA RPI last season and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight after winning the ACC Tournament title. Maryland closed with a 31-5 overall record that included a 12-4 ACC mark.
Maryland will be one of seven NU non-conference foes that advanced to postseason play in 2011-12, including road games against South Dakota State (Nov. 18) and Creighton (Dec. 5). SDSU won the Summit League title and finished No. 50 in the final RPI, while Creighton won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament crown to claim an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Jays finished No. 73 in the RPI.
The Huskers, who finished as the Big Ten Tournament runner-up before advancing to the 2012 NCAA Tournament, will also welcome WNIT Sweet 16 qualifier Temple to the Devaney Center early in the conference season. The Owls finished 23-10 overall and 13-1 in the Atlantic-10 Conference. The Huskers will take on the Owls, who finished No. 52 in the final NCAA RPI, on Sunday, Nov. 11 to conclude the regular-season opening weekend.
South Florida, which finished with a 19-16 overall record that included a 9-9 Big East mark, also advanced to the WNIT Sweet 16. The Huskers will play the Bulls in Tampa on Sunday, Dec. 16.
Oral Roberts, which finished second with a 20-11 overall record and a 14-4 Summit League mark trailing only South Dakota State, will also journey to the Devaney Center on Dec. 20. Nebraska will also face Sam Houston State on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at the Devaney Center. The Bearkats finished third in the Southland Conference in 2011-12, closing with an 18-12 overall record that included a 12-4 league mark. SHSU is one of Nebraska's nine non-conference opponents that won 18 or more games a year ago.
While 2012 postseason qualifiers will provide big-game atmospheres regularly during the non-conference season, the other names on the Nebraska schedule will give the Husker schedule incredible quality and depth.
USC finished 18-12 overall, 12-6 in the Pac-12 and No. 41 in the NCAA RPI in 2012, but did not advance to postseason play after finishing third in the Pac-12. The Trojans will play host to the Huskers at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 23, hungry to avenge an early season loss to Nebraska at the Devaney Center in 2011-12.
Idaho State, the 2012 Big Sky Conference regular-season champions, will come to Nebraska after rolling to a 24-8 record and a 14-2 Big Sky mark last season. The Bengals finished No. 71 in the NCAA RPI a year ago, but did not play in the postseason. Idaho State ventures to Lincoln on Saturday, Dec. 1, to battle the Huskers.
A traditional NCAA Tournament team, Florida State will be at the Devaney Center one week later. The Seminoles struggled to a 14-17 overall record that included a 66-63 loss to Nebraska in Tallahassee, Fla., on Nov. 27, 2011. Despite a losing record, FSU still finished among the top 100 RPI teams in the country last season.
Nebraska opens its final season of women's basketball action at the Devaney Center in 2012-13 by playing an exhibition game against Nebraska-Kearney on Sunday, Nov. 4, before hosting North Carolina A&T in the regular-season opener on Friday, Nov. 9. The Aggies went 15-16 overall and 9-7 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference a year ago. The Huskers conclude their non-conference home schedule against Grambling State on Saturday, Dec. 29. Grambling finished with a 15-15 overall record and a 10-8 SWAC mark a year ago.
Northern Arizona, which visits the Devaney Center on Nov. 16, is the only team on the Husker non-conference schedule to finish worse than three games below .500 in 2011-12. The Lumberjacks, who went 9-20 a year ago, battled Nebraska through two overtimes in a 97-88 Husker victory in Flagstaff, Ariz., last season.
Big Ten Conference regular-season play is set to begin on Jan. 3. The dates, times and television information for Nebraska's Big Ten games will be announced by the conference at a later date. Nebraska will play home-and-home Big Ten series with Penn State (NCAA) Iowa (NCAA), Ohio State (NCAA), Minnesota (WBI) and Wisconsin in 2012-13, while facing Purdue (NCAA), Michigan State (NCAA) and Illinois in single games at the Devaney Center. The Huskers will play Michigan (NCAA), Northwestern and Indiana in single games on the road in Big Ten action.
The Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament is scheduled for March 7-10 in Chicago, Ill., while the announcement of the NCAA Tournament field will be held on Monday, March 18.
The first and second rounds of the 2013 NCAA Tournament will be played at 16 pre-determined home sites that have been announced by the NCAA. First- and second-round matchups will be played March 23-26. NCAA Regionals will be held March 30-April 2 in Norfolk, Va., Oklahoma City, Okla., Spokane, Wash., and Trenton, N.J., to determine the participants in the 2013 NCAA Women's Final Four at New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, La., April 7-9.