SOUTH BEND – On a day when all of Notre Dame Nation was focused on the future, Fighting Irish basketball coach Mike Brey had to walk the fine line of concentrating on the here, while day-dreaming about the future.
Notre Dame announced early Wednesday that its athletic programs would be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, while a short time later, also released its 2012-13 men's basketball schedule, which may be the final time the Irish go through the Big East Conference .
"Certainly, this is one of the toughest regular-season schedules we have played in my time here,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. "But I am excited for our players and the challenges that await us this season.”
Late Wednesday Brey spoke of the similarities between when Notre Dame joined the Big East 17 seasons ago and now looking toward another new membership.
“It's interesting, when we joined the Big East, we were the lone outpost (westward),” Brey explained. “There was not Marquette, DePaul, Cincinnati or Louisville. “We're kind of a lone outpost again and I kind of like that.”
Brey believes that a more challenging league schedule may be difficult when you are immersed in it during the season, but it ultimately pays dividends in March.
“What the motto that the Big East had the last couple of years was that we were getting eight bids (to the NCAA Tournament), we're getting nine bids, we're getting 10 bids,” Brey explained. “I think that is going to flip to the ACC and I'm glad that we are in the league. It's been good to play in a league, where half of the teams get bids. It gives you something to shoot for.”
This season, the Irish are slated to make 18 appearances on national television and features 21 games at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
One of the many highlights of the home schedule is a visit by defending national champion Kentucky (Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. on ESPN2) as part of the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge.
Another exciting match-up will be when Georgetown comes to South Bend (Jan. 21 at 7 p.m.) on Martin Luther King Day.
“This is an experienced group,” Brey said of his squad. “I am looking forward to seeing us navigate through the schedule.”
Defending BIG EAST tournament champion and Final Four participant Louisville will visit Notre Dame (Feb. 9) in what could mark the second-ever visit to Purcell Pavilion by the ESPN College GameDay crew, while CBS is televising the Cincinnati at Notre Dame game (Feb. 24 at 2 p.m.).
“One of things that I have been most proud during my time here as head coach is the consistency that we've shown from year to year and how we've been able to manage the schedule,” Brey said.
As has been the norm in recent years, every conference game will be televised and more than 56 percent of those contests will be shown on national television. ESPN and ESPN2 will carry 45 league matchups, with no less than 24 of those contests also scheduled for ESPNU.
Thirteen of Notre Dame's 18 Big East regular-season contests will be shown by ESPN, ESPN2 or CBS throughout conference season.
The Irish are scheduled for three appearances on “Big Monday,” with the first coming against the Hoyas in the Martin Luther King Day matchup. The other two Big Monday matchups will be on the road against Syracuse (Feb. 4) and Pittsburgh (Feb. 18).
The month of November will be a busy one with seven games scheduled in the first 17 days of the season.
Notre Dame opens up the campaign against Evansville (Nov. 10) in the first of two preliminary round games of the CVC (Coaches vs. Cancer) Classic. The Irish return to action two nights later against Monmouth (Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.) in a second-round match-up.
The first two national television appearances for the Irish will come in the championship rounds of the CVC Classic as all four games of the event will be televised by TruTV from the newly-built Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Notre Dame's semifinal opponent in the tournament will be St. Joseph's (Nov. 16 at 9:30 p.m.), in what will be just the second meeting ever between the two schools. The following night the Irish will play either Florida State or BYU.
Returning home from the CVC Classic, Notre Dame begins a five-game home-stand starting with George Washington (Nov. 21), followed by games against St. Francis (Pa.) (Nov. 24) and Chicago State (Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.) in what will be the first of two non-conference games to be televised by ESPNU.
Following its match-up with Kentucky, Notre Dame concludes the home-stand against Brown (Dec. 8).
The Irish then head to Indianapolis for the second annual Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and will face Purdue at 4:30 p.m. in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.
Notre Dame ends its non-conference schedule with three home games against IPFW (Dec. 17), Kennesaw State (Dec. 19) and Niagara (Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. on ESPNU).
A 15-day hiatus then awaits the Irish before they open up Big East play at home against Seton Hall (Jan. 5 at noon). Notre Dame will play four of its first six BIG EAST games in the friendly confines of Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish play their first true road game of the conference campaign at Cincinnati (Jan. 7) and it will air on ESPN2.
Notre Dame then returns home to play three of its next four games, beginning with a matchup against Connecticut (Jan. 12), followed by a road game at St. John's in Madison Square Garden (Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. on ESPN2).
The second Saturday-Monday turnaround occurs four days later when the Irish host Rutgers (Jan. 19) and Georgetown (Jan. 21).
The Irish end the month of January with a road game at South Florida (Jan. 26), before playing host to Villanova (Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. on ESPN2).
The month of February begins with Notre Dame's third Saturday-Monday turnaround as the Irish travel to Chicago to face DePaul (2 p.m. on ESPN2) and then head to Syracuse to take on the Orange (Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.)
Following the two-game road swing, Notre Dame returns home to face Louisville (Feb. 9) and then entertains DePaul (Feb. 13) in the second meeting between the two schools.
The fourth Saturday-Monday turnaround and fourth and fifth road games during the month of February occur in a two-game road swing when the Irish travel to Providence (Feb. 16), before facing Pittsburgh (Feb. 18) in its final Big Monday appearance.
Notre Dame plays Cincinnati for the second time during the regular season as the Irish host the Bearcats (Feb. 24) in a game to be shown on CBS.
Two of the final three conference regular-season games will be on the road, beginning with a matchup against Marquette at the Bradley Center (March 2 at 2 p.m. either ESPN or ESPN2).
The final two games of the regular season will be against two of its four repeat opponents. Notre Dame closes out the home season at home against St. John's (March 5 at 7 p.m. on ESPN2) and then faces Louisville (March 9 at 4 p.m.) on CBS in the final regular-season match-up.
The BIG EAST Championship once again will be played at Madison Square Garden from March 12 to 16.