Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies (5-0) will be playing their first game in Gampel Pavilion this season as they host No. 3 Notre Dame in a highly-anticipated matchup which is being played as part of the Jimmy V Classic.
Once upon a time, Muffet McGraw seemed to have UConn figured out, as the Fighting Irish had beaten UConn four consecutive times, including twice in the 2012-2013 regular season and again in the 2013 Big East Tournament championship game, heading into a 2013 Final Four matchup.
UConn destroyed Notre Dame, 83-65, in Skylar Diggins' final college basketball game and would go on to win the program's eighth title that year. The Huskies have won all three meetings since then, including the 2014 and 2015 national championship games. The Fighting Irish have been national runner-up in four out of the past five years while UConn has been national champion for five out of the past seven seasons.
These two teams haven't met in Storrs since Jan. 5, 2013, where the Irish eeked out a 73-72 win. This will be the 45th meeting between these two teams with UConn holding a 33-11 advantage.
Notre Dame (7-0) is coming off its first few tests of the season, most recently surviving a visit from No. 10 Ohio State, 75-72, in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and needing overtime to beat unranked UCLA at a neutral site. This year's team is led by Madison Cable, who is averaging 16.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Junior point guard Lindsay Allen, who Auriemma says is one of the best in the country, is averaging 8.9 points and 5.4 assists per game.
Sophomore Brianna Turner, who earned a host of all-freshman honors last year and was also named ACC preseason player of the year going into this season, will not be playing due to a shoulder injury which is going to keep her sidelined for several weeks, according to reports.
UConn is also coming off of its toughest test of this season, at least according to the scoreboard, on the road against DePaul, only winning by 16 points in a game which was pretty close throughout. At the very least it kept the Huskies engaged for a full 40 minutes.
The Huskies have been paced by the senior leadership of Breanna Stewart (23.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and Moriah Jefferson (13.2 ppg, 5.8 apg), but the consistency of Gabby Williams and Morgan Tuck has also helped this team appear so unbeatable. UConn is also starting to see contributions from freshmen Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier.
There's no reason to believe UConn should not do to Notre Dame what it has done against every other team so far on its schedule. This Notre Dame team will be shorthanded and playing in a hostile environment. While its coach may be familiar with the surroundings, the players certainly are not and they also have the misfortune of facing one of the best teams ever assembled in the history of the game.