After meeting in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, the two best women’s basketball programs in Connecticut are set to meet again. UConn and Quinnipiac will face off at Mohegan Sun on Saturday, Nov. 28 as part of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge.
Mississippi State and Maine will play on the other side of the bracket, with the winners advancing to the championship game and the losers heading to the consolation game. Both of those games will be held on Sunday, Nov. 29.
Barring one of the sport’s biggest upsets, UConn will likely face off against Mississippi State in the second game of the event. The two teams haven’t faced since the Bulldogs upset the Huskies in the 2017 Final Four, though Mississippi State is no longer coached by Vic Schaefer after the coach left Starkville, Mississippi to become the head coach at Texas. However, it will give Andra Espinoza-Hunter a chance to square off against her former team.
As for Quinnipiac, the Bobcats have established themselves as one of the top mid-major programs in the country with appearances in five of the last seven NCAA Tournaments. In 2017, they made a run to the Sweet Sixteen which prompted Geno Auriemma to wear a QU t-shirt during one of his press conferences.
One year later, the two met in the second round of the NCAA Tournament where UConn came away with a 71-46 win. This next game will be just the third meeting all-time between the two schools. Back in 1998, the Huskies put down one of the biggest beatdowns in program history on the Bobcats, winning 117-20. We looked back on that game prior to the NCAA Tournament matchup.
With the addition of two more games to the schedule, UConn needs to move or cancel four non-conference matchups to get under the NCAA’s limit of 29 regular season games. The move to the Big East and its 20-game round robin format already created a schedule crunch for the Huskies. Now, they’ll have to do even more work to pare it down.
Currently, UConn is scheduled to face Baylor, Cal, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia on the road while hosting Dayton, Little Rock, Maryland, South Carolina and Texas along with the aforementioned games against Quinnipiac and Mississippi State or Maine.
It would make sense for the Huskies to drop the game at Virginia considering it was only added as Megan Walker’s homecoming. Similarly, Little Rock is an easy candidate for the chopping block since it will serve as Christyn Williams’ homecoming — but not until 2021-22. That leaves two more games to clear from this year’s schedule.
But all that calculus doesn’t include a game against Louisville in the Never Forget Classic, which Cardinals head coach Jeff Walz announced on a radio show back in November but still hasn’t been formally announced by either school. If this still does end up happening, UConn would need to cut a fifth game.