Notre Dame hoops schedule complete for 2020-21 — for now

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Official word likely remains days away, and it may not include specific tip times or television channels, but the Notre Dame men’s basketball schedule for the 2020-21 is all but complete.

Kind of. Sort of, in a coronavirus pandemic, cross-your-fingers-that-this-all-will-work way.

Either way, it’s a doozy, the likes of which the Irish never have seen under coach Mike Brey, set to start his 21st season in South Bend. It’s a schedule that might even rival that of any that former coach Digger Phelps crafted during Notre Dame’s days of independence.

On Thursday, the Tribune learned that Notre Dame is finalizing plans to play Tennessee at home on Dec. 4. That would mark the first visit to South Bend for the Volunteers and the second meeting between the teams, which met in Murfreesboro, Tenn., at the 1979 NCAA Tournament. The Tennessee matchup comes on the heels of last week’s news, first reported by the Tribune, that Notre Dame will visit Michigan State on Nov. 28.

For now, that game at Breslin Center (time and TV, TBA), remains the season opener for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame’s seven-game non-league schedule also is expected to include contests against Western Michigan (home, Dec. 2), Ohio State (home, Dec. 8), at Kentucky (Dec. 12) and Purdue (Indianapolis, Dec. 19). Notre Dame also plans to play at Howard in Washington on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18, 2021). That’s also two days before Inauguration Day in the nation’s capital.

Notre Dame’s 20-game Atlantic Coast Conference schedule includes home-and-home games against Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.), Virginia and Virginia Tech. It has home games only against Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina State and Wake Forest. It has road games only against Louisville, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The Irish will play at least two ACC games — one at home, one on the road — before the end of 2020.

The NCAA has mandated during the coronavirus pandemic that teams can play a maximum of 27 regular-season games.

What the season in terms of fans at Purcell Pavilion remains to be determined. There’s little chance games will be played in front of capacity crowds (9,149) or even 50 percent capacity. There’s a good chance the season starts with no fans in attendance, then increases slightly depending on pandemic protocols.

Notre Dame finished 20-12 overall, 10-10 and tied for sixth place in the 15-team ACC last season. The Irish are picked anywhere from ninth to 15th (last) in preseason league predictions by various publications.

Junior guard Dane Goodwin and Notre Dame are looking at quite the challenging schedule this coming college basketball season.