Many have said that this matchup was inevitable, until Notre Dame's 'boss' Natalie Achonwa was injured.
However, Tuesday's NCAA championship game between Geno Auriemma's UConn. Huskies (39-0) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish (36-0) is already in the history books:
1) As the Tennessean notes, it's the first time in 75 years that two unbeaten teams have played for a national championship in basketball.
In 1939, Long Island University defeated Loyola (Ill.) in the final of the men's National Invitation Tournament. That was also the first year the NCAA held a men's tournament, with Oregon claiming that title.
2) It's the first time ever that unbeatens have played each other for the title in the women's game
3) Doubters, haters, and all those who don't believe women can sell tickets to sporting events, read this excerpt from yesterday's SI-CNN.com:
You don't often see scalpers flooding the streets of the women's Final Four host city but the action for semifinal tickets was sizzling outside Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. I saw nearly a dozen scalpers looking to broker tickets within two blocks of the arena.
The scalpers I spoke said they seats in the lower section for both semifinal games were going for $200, about double the face value. The problem was the inventory was low since the game was sold out and no one was selling. StubHub also had no tickets available as of Sunday night.
Reasons To Watch This Game:
- It's a rivalry so heated...rumors are rife that they no longer want to play each other in the regular season. Both Auriemma and Irish Coach Muffet McGraw have denied this.
Auriemma's been in this position before, when Pat Summitt was running Tennessee's program. She refused to play her girls against his team.
As for Auriemma's reaction, the Tenneseean reported that he said, "It's Lent, so it's wrong to fib."
It took a press release from the Irish front office to defuse this. The statement said, in part:
"The recent published reports that Notre Dame is not interested in playing Connecticut in the near future are completely false, extremely disappointing and, frankly, baffling."
McGraw's explanation was that UConn indicated it couldn't work out anything for this season.
- Geno Auriemma wants to break Pat Summitt's record of eight national titles. If the Huskies win Tuesday night (they are the odds-on favorite), he will own the keys to the kingdom. As much as he will play it down, he's a competitor. And a bloodthirsty one.
The key to the semifinal victory for the Huskies was a 16-3 run to start the second of half of the game. AP All-American honorable mention Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored nine of those points in the run, turning a 28-24 game to start the half to a 44-27 blowout. Credit the other four AP All-Americans – Breanna Stewart, seniors duo of Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson, and sophomore Moriah Jefferson.
- If Notre Dame can do to UConn what Stanford did to UConn for much of the first half of Sunday's night's semifinal game...Stanford really unnerved UConn. Or, as the New York Times noted, at least made the Huskies seemed rushed and nervous, well, at least they stand a fighting chance.
As the Tennesean notes, even with Achonwa out after tearing her ACL in the regional final victory over Baylor last week, the Fighting Irish have talent and depth. Kayla McBride scored 19 of her 28 points in the first half of Notre Dame's victory over Maryland while Jewell Loyd added 16 points and nine rebounds. The Irish outrebounded Maryland 50-21.
In the final analysis:
- Whatever Geno Wants, Geno Gets: And Geno wants this championship. Badly. Final score: UConn Huskies 85 Notre Dame 60