Challenges await UND on women's basketball schedule
GRAND FORKS – In its first NCAA tournament appearance, the University of North Dakota women’s basketball fared well – falling to Sweet 16 qualifier Texas A&M 70-55 in the opening round last March in College Station, Texas.
Now, the question is this: Can UND compete consistently on a bigger stage?
UND likely will find out next season. North Dakota released its 2014-15 women’s basketball schedule Wednesday – and it’s perhaps the most ambitious journey in the program’s history.
“We have to make that jump,” said UND coach Travis Brewster.
UND will play 30 regular-season games – a schedule that includes:
A home game against Minnesota, the first time a Big Ten school has come to The Betty.
A road game at Colorado that also serves as UND’s opening game in the WNIT preseason tournament. UND will play two more WNIT preseason games after Colorado.
Nine games against teams that qualified for postseason play during the 2013-14 season.
A game at Clemson, the first contest for UND against an Atlantic Coast Conference member.
A Dec. 6 game at North Dakota State.
UND won last season’s Big Sky Conference postseason tournament and should be considered one of the league’s preseason favorites next season since the bulk of the 2013-14 team returns.
“There is a good balance of Midwest schools that our fans are familiar with such as Minnesota and North Dakota State, but we’ve also presented ourselves with a challenge on the national scene,” said Brewster. “Our team is going to have to be focused right away.”
The Big Sky added Idaho this season. With that addition, Big Sky teams will play 18 league games next season instead of 20. Idaho reached the NCAA tournament last season as well.
UND opens Big Sky play Jan. 1 at home against Montana State.
“We’re trying to give our players a good experience and prepare us for the rigors of the Big Sky,” said Brewster.