University of Maine’s Olivia Rockwood prepares to go up for a shot as Fordham’s Sarah Karpell defends in first half action of the women’s basketball game in Orono Thursday night. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The University of Maine’s women’s basketball team will be playing one of the program’s most challenging non-conference schedules ever this coming season.

Three NCAA Tournament teams and nine WNIT participants are among their potential 15 non-conference opponents. All 15 teams won at least 17 games and had winning records in 2022-23.

The game against national powerhouse Indiana University at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Nov. 30 highlights the schedule as Gorham native and first team All-American forward Mackenzie Holmes brings her Hoosiers to Maine coming off a 28-4 season.

Indiana was the top seed in its NCAA Tournament regional and beat No. 16 Tennessee Tech 77-47 in the first round before being upset by No. 9 Miami of Florida 70-68 in the second round.

UMaine will play in the Drake Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, on Nov. 24-26 and Drake won the Missouri Valley Conference tourney before losing to fifth seed Louisville 83-81 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Drake, which was the 12th seed in the NCAA regional, finished up 22-10.

The Drake Tournament will also include WNIT teams Richmond (21-11) and Louisiana Tech (19-13).

UMaine will host James Madison on Dec. 17, and JMU is coming off a season in which it won the Sun Belt Conference tourney and lost to third seed Ohio State 80-66 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. JMU, the 14th seed, wound up 26-8.

James Madison is one of the Black Bears’ five non-conference opponents they faced last season. UMaine beat JMU 60-58 in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The other four teams they will play again were all in the WNIT and all four won at least one game in the tourney.

UMaine lost to all four a year ago.

UMaine will host UMass on Nov. 12 and the University of Rhode Island two days later. It will travel to Fordham on Dec. 2 and entertain Harvard on Dec. 6.

UMass, 27-7 a year ago, and Fordham, 19-13, each won one WNIT game; 26-7 Rhode Island won a pair of games and 20-12 Harvard notched three victories before being eliminated in the Great Eight by Columbia.

Harvard ousted UMass and URI.

UMass topped UMaine 67-54 in 2022-23, URI handed the Black Bears a 63-43 setback, Fordham triumphed 57-51 and Harvard won handily, 84-56.

The Black Bears will conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule at the Tulane Tournament in New Orleans on Dec. 20-21 and at the University of Pennsylvania on Dec. 30.

Two of the three teams in the Tulane Tournament qualified for the WNIT: Tulane (18-14) and Arkansas-Little Rock (21-11). Duquesne, which is in Pittsburgh, didn’t qualify for the NCAA or the WNIT but won 19 games (19-12).

Pennsylvania was 17-12 last season and lost in the first round of the WNIT.

UMaine opens its non-league schedule against 21-9 Quinnipiac on Nov. 6 and at LaSalle on Nov. 9. Neither qualified for the NCAA or WNIT tournaments but they went 21-9 and 17-14, respectively.

The UMaine women went 16-14 overall, 11-5 in America East, and lost to Albany in the league semifinals.

UMaine returns all five starters and top nine scorers including 2022-23 AE Player of the Year Adrianna Smith and 2021-22 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Anne Simon, who was hampered by an ankle injury last season.