Women’s Final Could be a Classic
All eyes have been on Arlington and AT&T Stadium for the past week, the men’s Final Four being of the biggest sporting events in the country. But at almost the same time, the women have been in Nashville with a little Final Four of their own. That one may end up being a lot more interesting than the men’s. In Sunday’s semi-finals, undefeated Notre Dame easily beat Maryland by 26 points 87-61, while undefeated UConn easily beat Stanford by 19, 75-56. Both Maryland and Stanford were excellent teams but the Irish and the Huskies are in a whole different league this season. For Notre Dame, this is the 4th straight Final Four appearance, and its 3rd championship game in the past four years, for UConn it’s almost an annual event. The fact that both go into Tuesday’s championship game undefeated makes it the ultimate showdown.
Never before in NCAA history have two undefeated teams met in the title game. History is being made, and it’s being made by the women…not the men. Kentucky and UConn might be an interesting, even exciting men’s final on Monday night, but a 37-0 team facing a 39-0 team is epic. Notre Dame’s one-two punch of Kayla McBride and Jewell Lloyd were too much for Maryland. The All-American McBride scored 28 points and Lloyd finished with 16. Breanna Stewart, the Associated Press player of the year, led the Huskies with 18 points. UConn has won 45 straight games and will be going for its record 9 national title. Notre Dame’s last championship was in 2001.
Notre Dame’s coach may have the unfortunate name of Muffet McGraw but she is the AP coach of the year. Probably because they’ve tired of giving it to UConn’s Geno Auriemma. He’s the John Wooden of the women’s game. Not in personality but in success. He’s been at the helm for UConn’s 8 previous national championships and been named national coach of the year six times. Auriemma may have mellowed a bit in the past few year–he was widely considered the most disliked coach in the women’s game thru much of his UConn tenure–but he somehow always has his team in the national title picture.
If you haven’t watched a women’s college basketball game recently than Tuesday would be a perfect chance for you to catch up. I’m a firm believer that women often pale when compared to men in the same sport…basketball, hockey, tennis, golf…. but both the women at Notre Dame and UConn have serious basketball skills. Maybe not the alley-oop dunk type, but ball handling, passing, full court defense, hustle–they’re a lot of fun to watch.
After you watch the men on Monday night, check out the women the next night. Two perfect teams with everything on the line. Even without a dunk, if you love competition, it might be the best basketball game you’ve seen all year.