The 2015-16 campaign will mark the seventh time the University of Connecticut women's basketball team will face the field from the previous year's Final Four during the regular season.
The reigning national champion Huskies will host Notre Dame in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 5 at Gampel Pavilion, face Maryland in the Maggie Dixon Classic at New York's Madison Square Garden on Dec. 28, and visit South Carolina on Feb. 8.
The Maryland contest is the first of a three-game deal between the schools that will continue when UConn travels to College Park in 2016-17. But the contracts with Notre Dame and South Carolina expire after this season. Will those high-profile series continue? Nothing has been signed but UConn senior women's administrator Deb Corum is determined to make that work.
"I'm very optimistic that they will continue based on the conversations I have had with them," Corum said.
UConn will be able to schedule as many as 13 individual non-league games for 2016-17 as American Athletic Conference athletic directors voted last month -- off a recommendation from the coaches -- that the women's basketball slate be reduced from 18 games to 16 games.
Right now, the Huskies' 2016-17 non-league schedule has them hosting Ohio State and Chattanooga while facing Texas at Mohegan Sun Arena, and traveling to Florida State, Kansas State, LSU, Maryland, Nebraska, and UCLA.
The series with DePaul, coached by Geno Auriemma's national team assistant Doug Bruno, will continue. Corum is also in conversations for the Huskies to play a home and home with former Big East and AAC rival Louisville. Coach Jeff Walz has said since it was announced the Cardinals would move on to the Atlantic Coast Conference that he would like to have UConn back on his schedule. The Huskies' last trip to the KFC Yum! Center on March 3, 2014, drew a crowd of 22,163.
However, a renewal of the rivalry with Stanford is not in the cards.
"Right now, Stanford is not on our schedule," Corum said.
In Stanford's place, Corum is talking with California-Berkeley and Arizona State to give the Huskies Pac-12 Conference opponents. A game with Arizona State could also be a homecoming for sophomore Courtney Ekmark, a Phoenix native.
Corum is also looking to put together a homecoming game for sophomore Kia Nurse. Notre Dame played a game in Toronto for Ontario native Natalie Achonwa, Nurse's teammate on the Canadian national team, in December of 2013. If the Huskies want to stay in the United States, Buffalo is only a 1-hour, 15-minute drive from Nurse's Hamilton, Ontario, home.
The Huskies' 29-game 2015-16 regular season schedule begins Nov. 16 with their first trip to Ohio State.
Notre Dame (ACC), South Carolina (Southeastern Conference) and Maryland (Big Ten) also won their league titles while DePaul captured the Big East tournament crown.
"I think it's a great schedule," Corum said. "I'm kind of picky, and some of the days that we're playing are not perfect. But with who we have on the schedule, it's going to test us."
UConn will have a stretch of three games in five days when they host Nebraska (Nov. 28) and visit Chattanooga (Nov. 30) and DePaul (Dec. 2). The Huskies will take on Florida State at Mohegan Sun Arena Dec. 11, two days after going to Colgate for Breanna Stewart's homecoming game. The AAC opener at Cincinnati (Dec. 30) comes two days after the Maryland game.
The series with the Terrapins was the final piece of the 2015-16 puzzle.
"I went out and celebrated when that got done," Corum said with a laugh. "We've wanted to get Maryland back on the schedule and that we're going to play them the next three seasons is very exciting."
UConn will play 13 home games -- seven at Gampel Pavilion and six at the XL Center in Hartford. Most of the games at the XL Center will be played during the breaks for Thanksgiving and between semesters.
The Huskies' last XL Center game in Jan. 30 against Memphis with the final five home games -- including Senior Day against Tulane on Feb. 27 and the finale against South Florida on Feb. 29 -- set for Gampel Pavilion.
"We would have liked to play more games at the XL Center in February and a lot of that had to do with the XL's availability that month and its available dates," Corum said. "But, especially for our seniors, we wanted to have the final games on campus. We'll have their Senior Day on the final weekend and that last game against USF very well could decide the conference championship. USF is going to have a very good team and it will be great to have the students supporting us."
UConn also has two exhibition games on its schedule. It will host Lubbock Christian at the XL Center Nov. 2 and Vanguard at Gampel Pavilion Nov. 8.