Three times this year, Notre Dame vs. UConn has ended with the Huskies topping the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame hopes its fourth try to unseat the defending national champions — tonight, at the Women's Final Four, in Indianapolis — will be a little more successful.
UConn brings a 36-1 record into tonight's Final Four matchup, and comes in with the momentum of a superb NCAA Tournament performance so far. The Huskies have won their four games en route to the Final Four by an average of 25 points, and recovered from their lone scare, a five-point win against Georgetown, by demolishing second-seeded Duke 75-40 in the Philadelphia Regional final. Geno Auriemma's never beaten one team four times in one season, but the Huskies' margin of victory against the Fighting Irish has been three at Notre Dame, 21 at home, and nine in the Big East Tournament. If Maya Moore and the rest of the Huskies can play up to par, it's going to be very difficult for Fighting Irish to topple women's basketball's colossus.
But, then again, Notre Dame already has the biggest win of this 2011 NCAA Tournament — a 73-59 win over Tennessee in the Dayton Regional — and may have been more impressive in March Madness so far, winning all four of its games by double digits. The Irish have pressed effectively throughout their run, forcing 14 or more turnovers in each of their games; on the flip side, Notre Dame's ball security hasn't been the world's best, with the Irish coughing up double-digit turnovers in each game, too. If the Irish can win the turnover battle against UConn, it will go a long way toward their upset chances.
Star Watch: Moore is the obvious leader of the path, but it's been a revolving door of Huskies stepping up to down Notre Dame this year. Kelly Faris had 28 points and a late lay-up at Notre Dame, Bria Hartley had 29 points in Connecticut, and Stefani Dolson contributed 24 points and nine rebounds in the Big East Tournament. If Notre Dame can limit Moore's supporting cast, the Irish will benefit greatly.
Prediction: Do you really want to bet against Maya Moore and UConn? The Huskies take care of business, 74-66.
More Reading: SB Nation's UConn blog is The UConn Blog, and it's had comprehensive coverage of the Huskies' bid for a third consecutive national championship. And our Notre Dame blog, Rakes of Mallow, has the Fighting Irish's spectacular season covered.