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Big East women’s basketball to begin conference play on Dec. 4; schedule release ‘imminent’

The first part of the Big East’s conference schedule is finally coming together.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Tournament- St. John’s vs Creighton Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Big East held its women’s basketball media day virtually on Thursday, with commissioner Val Ackerman, the league’s 11 head coaches along with Preseason Player of the Year Christyn Williams and Preseason Freshman of the Year Paige Bueckers getting a chance to address the media.

The Big East will open conference play for women’s basketball on Dec. 4 — a week earlier than men’s basketball. UConn is scheduled to play a non-conference game against Louisville on Dec. 4, though with an 11-team league, one team will always be on a bye.

Each school will play four games before the holidays, Ackerman said, adding that the “finishing touches” are being put on the December schedule and will be released “imminently.”

After a holiday break, the Big East will resume play on Dec. 30, though it will wait to unveil a schedule or format for the second portion of its season.

“Our plan at this point is to hold off a bit longer on announcing the second part of our conference schedule so that we can continue to assess the landscape and determine the best scheduling format which will in turn hinge on the status of the coronavirus and related factors,” Ackerman said. “It’s our hope that we can release that that second portion of the schedule within the next month or so.”

Big East games will be broadcast on five different channels this season: Fox, FS1, FS2, CBS Sports Network and SNY — the last of which assures every UConn game will be broadcast on linear television this season.

Each year, the conference also has one “All-Access” game where two coaches are mic’d up for an entire game. This season, Ackerman hinted that a matchup of UConn and Auriemma against DePaul’s Doug Bruno could take that slot.

As for the non-conference schedule, the Huskies have five opponents lined up and dates for four of them. The matchup against South Carolina at Gampel Pavilion is the only one that still isn’t finalized but Auriemma reaffirmed the Gamecocks are still on the schedule.

For the most part, UConn’s non-conference schedule isn’t drastically different than what the Huskies set before the pandemic hit. When the NCAA pushed the start of the season to Nov. 25, it wiped out UConn’s early-season opponents such as Dayton, Little Rock, Maryland and Virginia.

The only game scheduled for after Nov. 25 that the Huskies lost was their yearly matchup against Notre Dame — and Auriemma still isn’t sure why.

“The Notre Dame thing fell apart, for whatever reason,” he said. “I still don’t know the real reason.”

Though UConn has room to schedule one more non-conference game under the NCAA limit, Auriemma doesn’t envision that happening.

“We probably could add another one but I don’t know that there’s anybody out there right now that we would add,” he said.