The Notre Dame women's basketball team is once again ranked #1 in the country after UConn lost to Baylor last week. Sliding in to the #2 slot, is Louisville, who the Irish play Thursday night.
It's noteworthy to have one 1 vs. 2 matchups in a single season, but for Notre Dame, this will be their second in six weeks - the other? Notre Dame's lone loss of the season to the Huskies on December 2nd.
The Irish are playing some of their best basketball of late, and have gotten off to a 2-0 start in the ACC, with wins over Pitt and Georgia Tech. The Cardinals though are a different challenge. They're one of the best teams in the country, and Notre Dame's biggest threat to an ACC crown.
Facing one of the biggest games of the season, the Irish are excited for another top-two showdown.
"I think the polls wanted it," Irish women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw joked. "They moved Louisville from 3 to 2 so that we would have the 1 vs. 2, and definitely, there's so many good teams this year, and certainly Louisville is one of them."
"It's really exciting to play against such good competition and getting to draw so many fans here," senior guard Marina Mabrey said. "It's really just great for women's basketball to be attracting so many fans and have so many people watching the game and talking about it and stuff, just really focusing on getting women's basketball up to par."
Notre Dame has played in eight 1-vs.-2 matchups in program history. They have not fared well in those games, winning just one of them - beating UConn 90-75 in the 2001 Final Four.
The Irish have though been successful at home. Not just this season, but in years past as well. Notre Dame has won 51 consecutive home conference games, dating back to 2012 when the Irish were in the Big East.
It's a streak the team hopes to continue Thursday with the help of the Irish faithful.
"The fans are always really excited, and I'm glad we're playing this one at home," senior guard Arike Ogunbowale said. "They're excited, we're excited, it's just going to be good energy."
"We have a great advantage because of our fans," McGraw added. "They do such a great job of knowing exactly when we need them to cheer, when they need to get a little bit louder, when they need to get on something that went wrong. They're just really intelligent, and I love that they can just give us that motivation, that energy, I mean we really feed off the crowd."
#1 Notre Dame hosts #2 Louisville Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion. Tip off is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will air on ESPN.