K-State, Connecticut agree to home-and-home series over next two seasons

Women's basketball head coach Jeff Mittie looks at his team after securing the defeat of Emporia State at Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 3, 2014. K-State defeated Emporia State 54-50. Mitte had made a recent announcement of the women's basketball program to be facing three-time defending NCAA National Champions Connecticut in a home-and-home series in the beginning of next season. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

K-State women’s basketball head coach Jeff Mittie wished for improvement in his first year, and he accomplished just that with a record above .500. Next on his list was to bolster the program’s nonconference schedule.

Tuesday, Mittie checked that off as well when he announced that the program will face three-time defending NCAA National Champions Connecticut in a home-and-home series beginning next season.

“The goals when I took the job a year ago were very simple: one, get us competitive right away and I thought our group this year did that,” Mittie said. “Secondly, it was to improve our nonconference schedule and to bring marquee opponents in during the conference portion of the schedule, because I felt like that was important for not only for our progress as a program but also, when you look across the country, those type of matchups get a lot of attention.”

The first game of the series will be played on Nov. 23 at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut. The second leg will take place on a date to be announced during the 2016-17 season in Manhattan.

“I watched them in the tournament,” Mittie said. “They have obviously been the dominant program. The last decade has been extremely impressive with their group.”

This past season, the Huskies completed a 38-1 season with 37-straight wins and a 10-point victory over Notre Dame in the National Championship. In their last three seasons, the Huskies have compiled a 113-5 record and have outscored their opponents by an average of 35.8 points per game. Since the 2000 season, the Huskies have won nine of the 16 NCAA National Championships, while making it to the women’s Final Four 13 of the last 16 seasons.

“It’s not only upping the standards for recruiting, but it upped the standards of our work every day to get better as a basketball team,” Mittie said. “When you know you have an early opponent like that — not that you’re not preparing — but hopefully it gives you that extra edge over the summer. We want to play those games early and we want recruits to know that we are going to play those types of games.”

K-State last faced Connecticut during the 2011-12 season in the NCAA Tournament. In that matchup, the Huskies limited the Wildcats to just 26 points in a 46-point blowout.

K-State will announce the full 2015-16 schedule later this summer.