UConn and Notre Dame to face in Final Four, fourth meeting of the season
UConn guard Kelly Faris drives to the basket against Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins during the Big East Tournament Final in Hartford, Connecticut. JESS CONDON/The Daily Campus
Come Sunday, Geno Auriemma and company will try to put their spin on an old clichÃ© - they'll be hoping the fourth time is the charm when it comes to playing Notre Dame.
Their struggles against the Irish have been detailed throughout the season, and their three regular season losses against the conference rival have only heightened the anxiety of UConn fans for Sunday's Final Four matchup.
Despite their difficulties in winning games on a big stage, the Huskies return to their sixth consecutive Final Four - the longest streak in women's college basketball history.
And the Huskies faithful wary of the team's ability to finally get over the hump against the Irish can take solace in the fact that their team is peaking at the right time; the 30-point dismantling of Kentucky showed that they are currently playing their best basketball of the season.
The three highly-touted freshmen - Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck - are finally starting to show their abilities on a consistent basis, and have been difference-makers over the first four NCAA Tournament games.
Most important of the three, Stewart has emerged as a dominant force. She's averaged 17.3 points per game over the stretch - she missed the opening round game against Idaho due to injury - to go with 10 blocks on the defensive end.
Irish fans will be just as confident in the fact that their team has an undoubted edge in the series as it currently stands, in addition to their nation-best 31-game winning streak.
Skylar Diggins and Kayla McBride have led Notre Dame to a third straight Final Four and are looking to finally break through and be the last team left standing.
It remains to be seen how this matchup of two red-hot teams will play out, but to many, this national semifinal has the look and feel of a de facto national title game.
The other half of the bracket - where Louisville and California are the two squads remaining - seems to lack the firepower necessary to keep up with either the Huskies or the Irish in the season's ultimate game. Though both have had plenty of surprises up their sleeves throughout the season, popular opinion says that the UConn-Notre Dame winner has a favorable path to a trophy.
That showdown between the No. 5 Cardinals and No. 2 Golden Bears will take place at 6:30 p.m. at New Orleans Arena. The Huskies and Irish will follow approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of that game. Both contests can be seen on ESPN.
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