Playing in the Maggie Dixon Classic is a big deal to coach Geno Auriemma and his University of Connecticut women's basketball team.
The event played annually at New York's Madison Square Garden honors the memory of Maggie Dixon, the Army women's basketball coach, who died on April 6, 2006, from an undiagnosed heart condition. She was 29. In her only season at Army, she led her team to its first NCAA tournament appearance.
Auriemma was a friend of Dixon's. The Hall of Fame coach also enjoys bringing his team to the Garden.
UConn will complete its 11-game 2015-16 non-conference schedule by taking part in the 10th annual Maggie Dixon Classic at date and time to be announced against an opponent to be determined.
It will be the third straight season and the fifth time overall the Huskies have been involved. UConn is 6-0 at the Garden with wins over Penn State, Ohio State, California, and St. John's in the Maggie Dixon Classic as well as a pair of regular season wins over St. John's (2007, 2011).
An opponent for the Huskies has not been finalized. There is hope that Kentucky will take part but the Wildcats will have to work through a conflict with their Southeastern Conference schedule to make it happen, according to a source.
UConn and Kentucky faced off in the Elite Eight of the 2012 and 2013 NCAA tournaments but have not met in the regular season since the Huskies pulled out a 68-62 win in the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge on Nov. 24, 1999, at the Hartford Civic Center. The contest is best remembered for Auriemma being ejected in the first half after picking up two technical fouls. Associate head coach Chris Dailey guided UConn to the triumph.
The remainder of the Huskies' non-league schedule will have them hosting Florida State (at Mohegan Sun Arena), Kansas State, LSU, Nebraska, and Notre Dame. They'll visit Chattanooga, Colgate, DePaul, Ohio State, and South Carolina.
The Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal reported this week that Nebraska will visit UConn in November with the Huskies making the return trip in 2016-17.
"It will be awesome," Nebraska coach Connie Yori told the paper. "I think part of the reason that they reached out to us is because when they came here for the regional two years ago, Geno saw that we had a great crowd, and their administration recognized that we had great fans. The reason they're returning to us is because of our fans and because of the quality of support we have, and obviously, we've been a good enough program that they feel like we can compete with them in some ways. Our fans have a lot to do with this."
UConn's 18-game American Athletic Conference schedule will have it playing home and home with Cincinnati, East Carolina, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Temple, Tulane, and Tulsa, visiting Houston and hosting Central Florida. The AAC tournament will be held for the third straight year at Mohegan Sun Arena.
UConn in Maggie Dixon Classic
December 14, 2008: UConn 77, Penn State 63
December 19, 2010: UConn 81, Ohio State 50
December 22, 2013: UConn 95, California 51
January 4, 2015: UConn 70, St. John's 54