For the second straight year, two teams will climb aboard a U.S. Navy carrier—this year, the USS Yorktown in South Carolina—to ring in the start of the 2012-13 college basketball season. It's been too long.
This isn't your average game—obviously, since it's played on an aircraft carrier. In addition to the abnormal locale, the proceeds from both the men's and the women's game will go to charities, and a special number of tickets are made available to military personnel.
On the women's side, this year's game features a Notre Dame team we haven't seen since it bowed out to Brittney Griner and the Baylor Bears in last year's NCAA championship game. The Irish will take on Ohio State, which fell in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season at the hands of Florida.
Here's where and when you can watch it all go down.
Where: The USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C.
When: Friday, Nov. 9 at 4 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC Sports Network
Listen: WBNS FM 97.1, 1460 AM
Notre Dame Starters
(via UND.com, based on exhibition lineup)
Markisha Wright, F
Skylar Diggins, G
Kayla McBride, G
Madison Cable, G
Jewell Loyd, G
Ohio State Returning Starters
(via OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Note: Buckeyes have not yet determined fifth starter)
Tayler Hill, G
Amber Stokes, G
Ashley Adams, C
Kalpana Beach, F
What They're Saying
Greg Paulus—who is a member of the Ohio State coaching staff, after playing basketball at Duke and football at Syracuse—tweeted a picture of our arena for Friday's games:
Paulus (@Greg_Paulus) November 5, 2012
The Ohio State Alumni Association shared more information about the charities that will benefit from this year's Carrier Classic. Among them are the Ohio State Veterans' House, the Wounded Warrior Project, Disabled American Veterans and more.
NBC Sports tweeted some news about what we can expect as far as the play-calling and reporting for the games:
Lewis Johnson will serve as the game reporter for the Carrier Classic women’s and men’s games.— NBCSportsPR (@NBCSportsPR) November 6, 2012
Dave Strader will handle play-by-play for the Carrier Classic men’s and women’s games in Charleston, N.C.— NBCSportsPR (@NBCSportsPR) November 6, 2012
On the Carrier Classic's Tumblr, you can see a head-to-head comparison of the coaches for Friday's game: Muffet McGraw of the Fighting Irish takes on Jim Foster of Ohio State. McGraw is in her 26th year at Notre Dame and has advanced to four Final Fours, while Foster is in his 11th season with the Buckeyes and is the eighth-winningest active coach in Division I basketball.
Notre Dame Key Player
Skylar Diggins was one of the biggest topics of discussion during last year's NCAA Tournament until she and the Irish met their match in Griner and the Baylor Bears. Now begins Diggins' quest for redemption.
It isn't going to be easy: Diggins, now a senior, is playing on an inexperienced team comprised mostly of underclassmen, according to Tom Coyne of the Associated Press. But Coyne writes that McGraw sees Diggins as "a coach on the floor" and has complete faith that she can steer her teammates toward victory.
Last season, Diggins led the Irish in points per game (16.3) and assists per game (5.8). Friday's game marks the first step to bettering those numbers in 2012-13.
Ohio State Key Player
Who's your pick to win?
Much like Diggins, a lot of the responsibility of leading the Buckeyes toward salvation will rest on the shoulders of Tayler Hill, a senior and one of four returning starters. Last year, she was a First Team All-Big Ten selection and led the conference in scoring with 20.4 points per game. Still, the Buckeyes fell short when it mattered most.
A first-round exit from the NCAA Tournament isn't in Ohio State's plans this year, but it will take veteran leadership to make sure this team doesn't fall short again. That's where Hill comes in. Plus, on Friday, it will be up to her to match Diggins' offensive output.
Prediction: Notre Dame 71, Ohio State 64
These are two teams that can score, two teams with veteran leadership and two teams with excellent coaching staffs. It's not going to be a blowout, but in the end, the Irish have just a bit more cohesion. And, of course, they have Diggins, which helps.