Notre Dame men add hoops home game Saturday against Fort Wayne

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

A Notre Dame men’s basketball home game played the same afternoon as a Notre Dame football home game?

Only during a global pandemic, when fans are limited or not allowed in at all and massive traffic issues aren’t a concern, could it happen. So, of course, it’s happening.

The Irish men’s basketball team has added a home game to its patchwork pandemic regular-season schedule. On Saturday, Notre Dame will host Purdue Fort Wayne (formerly Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne) at 11 a.m. in Purcell Pavilion. Second-ranked Notre Dame plays its final home football game of 2020 against Syracuse at 2:30 p.m.

Saturday’s makeshift makeup game was necessitated after No. 13 Tennessee shut down its men’s basketball program for two weeks following several positive tests for coronavirus last week. Tennessee was scheduled to play Friday at Notre Dame. The earliest it could play was Dec. 7. The loss of that contest meant the Irish had a game to add to get to the maximum number (27) allowed by the NCAA this season.

Fort Wayne (1-0) became an option after its scheduled game Thursday against Alcorn State was canceled because of COVID-19 issues.

Prior to Notre Dame’s season opener at No. 8 Michigan State on Saturday, Irish coach Mike Brey even took to Twitter in search of a possible weekend opponent. He tweeted that the Irish were willing to travel if necessary (safely, of course), to play Friday or Saturday.

“Reach out and let’s hoop,” Brey wrote

A program located about 90 miles away apparently reached out. Details were finalized Monday afternoon for Fort Wayne to make its seventh visit to South Bend. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 7-0. This will be the Mastodons’ first trip to Purcell Pavilion since 2016.

The Irish (0-1) start the home portion of non-conference play Wednesday against Western Michigan (0-1). Under coronavirus guidelines, fans are not permitted to attend Irish men’s or women’s basketball or hockey games for the foreseeable future.

More tip times set

Notre Dame also announced Monday that four December games have official start times and television designations.

The Dec. 8 home game against No. 23 Ohio State, part of the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, starts at 7:30 p.m. It will be televised by ESPN2. The Dec. 16 Atlantic Coast Conference opener against No. 6 Duke will begin at 9 p.m., on ESPN. Notre Dame’s game Dec. 22 at Syracuse starts at 7 while the Dec. 30 home game against No. 15 Virginia tips at 6. Both contests will be on ACC Network.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey took to Twitter last week in an effort to fill an opening on the Irish schedule. It apparently worked with a Saturday home game against Fort Wayne.