In a rematch of the 2014 final, the University of Connecticut will face off against Notre Dame in the NCAA women’s basketball final Tuesday night. UConn’s Huskies will be trying for their third consecutive title.
The championship game will start at 8:30 p.m. ET; it’ll air on ESPN.
For Notre Dame, tonight brings a chance for to overcome years of frustration. In three of the past four years, the team has lost in the championship game. The Irish last won it all in 2001.
For Connecticut, a win would bring their ninth national title under coach Geno Auriemma and further justify the title of “underdog” that is applied to any team they play. As FiveThirtyEight reports, since March of 2013, the Huskies are “e 83-1 with an average margin of victory of 38 points.”
A UConn championship would add to the legacy of senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who owns the NCAA career record for three-pointers ((396). And it would reward the stellar play of Morgan Tuck and Breanna Stewart, a junior whom the AP just named the nation’s best player for a second year in a row.
Both teams were undefeated when they faced off last year. This season, the Huskies have one loss and the Irish two – including an 18-point loss to UConn in December.
The Irish are hoping things will be different tonight, with the return of Brianna Turner, a strong rebounder and inside presence who was crucial to Notre Dame’s down-to-the-wire win over South Carolina. The team will also rely on All-America guard Jewell Loyd, who averaged 20 points a game this season.
Another thing to remember is that these two coaches are widely believed to detest each other. When Notre Dame coach Muffett McGraw was asked last year whether the word “hate” adequately described the relationship, she answered, “I think that is a fair assumption.”
Some of those feelings could be a result of familiarity that was bred when the two teams were rivals in the Big East.
“Notre Dame won seven of eight, but UConn has won the past three in a row,” The Hartford Courant reports. “Since the 2000-01 season, Muffet McGraw has more wins against Geno Auriemma (11) than any other coach.”