espnW: NCAA tournament

5 Fast Facts from historic night

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
UConnDon McPeak/USA TODAY SportsConnecticut routed Notre Dame on Tuesday night and propelled itself into the record books with its ninth NCAA title.

The 2014 NCAA tournament is a wrap. And a historic one at that. The Connecticut Huskies routed the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 79-58 Tuesday night in Nashville to win the NCAA women's basketball national championship. Here are five fast facts about the game to impress your co-workers at the water cooler today.

1. With the win, Geno Auriemma and UConn move out of a tie with Pat Summitt and Tennessee for most NCAA women's basketball titles overall with nine. Auriemma is now one title shy of matching John Wooden's Division I record of 10.

2. The Huskies finished the season at 40-0, completing the fifth perfect season for the program and the eighth in women's college basketball history. UConn joins the 2012 Baylor Lady Bears as the only teams to reach 40-0.

3. Both the men's and women's teams at UConn won the NCAA title this week, marking the second time that the same Division I school won both championships in the same season. The Huskies also did it in 2004. Just as impressive, the Huskies are a combined 13-0 in national championship games.

4. UConn sophomore Breanna Stewart was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player for the second straight season. She is the first player to win the award back-to-back since Candace Parker of Tennessee did it in 2007 and 2008.

5. Notre Dame is 1-3 all-time in national championships. The Irish have lost three straight since winning the NCAA title in 2001.

Notre Dame-UConn: 10 fast facts

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
Getty ImagesUConn and Notre Dame will put their perfect seasons on the line in Tuesday night's national championship game.

Need a crash course before the epic collision of Connecticut and Notre Dame? Here are 10 fast facts for Tuesday night's NCAA championship game (8:30 ET, ESPN/WatchESPN) between the two undefeated powerhouses.

1. This is the first time in NCAA Division I basketball history -- men or women -- that two undefeated teams will meet in the championship game. Connecticut is 39-0, and Notre Dame is 37-0.

2. UConn is 8-0 in NCAA title games; Notre Dame is 1-2.

3. The Huskies are looking to complete their fifth undefeated season in program history. The combined total of undefeated seasons from all other Division I women’s basketball programs is three.

4. UConn is tied with Tennessee for the most women's basketball national championships with eight. With a win Tuesday night, the Huskies would break the record and coach Geno Auriemma would pass former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt for most titles won by a women’s basketball coach.

5. Notre Dame has advanced to the championship game three out of the past four seasons, but the Fighting Irish haven’t won a title since 2001.

6. The Huskies have won their first five games of the tournament by a combined 135 points. Their closest game was a 69-54 win over Texas A&M. The Irish have outscored their first five tournament opponents by a combined 130 points, with a pair of 17-point victories being their toughest tests.

7. Both UConn and Notre Dame’s last losses have come at the hands of the other. UConn last lost in the 2013 Big East championship game, falling 61-59 to Notre Dame. Notre Dame last lost in the 2013 NCAA tournament semifinals, falling 83-65 to UConn.

8. The Irish have won seven of the past nine meetings against the Huskies over the past seven seasons. Baylor is the only other school with multiple wins (2) against UConn in that time span.

9. UConn looks to become the first team to win back-to-back national championships since UConn did it in 2009 and 2010. The Huskies also won three straight titles from 2002 to 2004.

10. Both teams have three Associated Press All-Americans on their rosters -- Breanna Stewart, Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley for UConn and Kayla McBride, Jewell Loyd and Natalie Achonwa (injured) for Notre Dame. Stewart and McBride are the only two to make the first team.

Proud to be a Stanford recruit

April, 6, 2014
Apr 6
Anna WilsonEric Lars Bakke/ESPN ImagesAnna Wilson knows her basketball future is in good hands with Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer.

Anna Wilson, a sophomore at Collegiate (Richmond, Va.), is one of the best high school basketball players in the nation. The 5-foot-7 point guard, who has given a verbal commitment to Stanford, is also the sister of NFL star Russell Wilson. She blogs for espnW.

In the past couple of days I have been asked what is it like being a recruit for Stanford when the team is about to play on one of the biggest stages – the 2014 women’s basketball Final Four in Nashville.

Well, on behalf of myself and other prospects for Stanford, Connecticut, Notre Dame and Maryland, it is a blessing.

About this time last year [freshman year in high school], I was unsure of where I wanted to spend my four years of college. So while watching March Madness I would look to see which program would be the best fit for me. Little did I know that five months later I would be making my decision not based on basketball, but based on the biggest stage -- the classroom.

I chose Stanford because of the challenge I knew it was going to give me. I wanted to do something other people might not choose to do, to take the road less traveled. I knew what the process would be like and if I wanted to play at a school like Stanford; school needed to come first. Before committing I told my teachers I was interested in going to Stanford and I needed to be prepared academically.

Choosing Stanford as the place to play college basketball was the easier decision. Coach VanDerveer is one of the best. When I watch her coach, I see someone who is a motivator, teacher and leader for her players. She has done so many special things at Stanford, and I just want to be a part of that.

When it comes down to it, I am incredibly thankful and humbled to be a Stanford recruit.

Go Stanford!

12 Perfect pairs

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
Aubrun TigersJonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesCam Newton and Auburn beat Oregon in the most recent meeting of two unbeaten teams in a national title game.

With just the semifinals standing in the way of a clash of unbeatens between UConn (38-0) and Notre Dame (36-0) in the NCAA women's basketball tournament, we look back at the 12 previous NCAA championship games between perfect teams.

Auburn vs. Oregon football, 2010: Led by quarterback Cam Newton, the Tigers edged the Ducks 22-19 in the BCS National Championship.

Alabama vs. Texas football, 2009: After the Longhorns lost star quarterback Colt McCoy to injury early, the Crimson Tide capitalized and took home the BCS title with a 37-21 victory.

USC vs. Oklahoma football, 2004: Despite entering the game with matching 12-0 records, the Trojans routed the Sooners 55-19 in the BCS Championship. The title was later stripped from the Bruins for NCAA violations and no champion is recognized from that season.

Miami vs. Ohio State football, 2002: Bringing a 34-game winning streak into the BCS Championship, the Hurricanes fell to the Buckeyes in a double-overtime classic, 31-24.

Florida State vs. Virginia Tech football, 1999: The Seminoles held off a second-half rally by the Hokies for a 46-29 victory and claimed their second national championship.

Long Beach State vs. Penn State women's volleyball, 1998: The 49ers became the first volleyball program in Division I history to finish the season undefeated by topping the Nittany Lions. Long Beach State was led by now-icon and three-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May.

Marshall vs. Montana football, 1996: The Thundering Herd, featuring Randy Moss and Chad Pennington, captured their second NCAA Division I-AA title with a 49-29 victory over the Grizzlies.

Old Dominion vs. Iowa women's field hockey, 1992: The Monarchs took home their third consecutive national title, and seventh overall, with a 4-0 win over Iowa.

Johns Hopkins vs. Syracuse men's lacrosse, 1984: The Blue Jays snapped the Orange's 22-game win streak -- that stretched over two seasons -- with a 13-10 victory in the national championship.

North Carolina vs. Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse, 1981: North Carolina won its first lacrosse title by edging Johns Hopkins 14-13.

Cornell vs. Maryland men's lacrosse, 1976: The Big Red needed overtime to beat the Terps 16-13 to win their second national championship.

Howard vs. Saint Louis men's soccer, 1971: The first known meeting of unbeatens in the NCAA finals, Howard topped Saint Louis 3-2. The NCAA later stripped Howard of the title for allegedly using ineligible players.

Flashing back to first Final Four

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
Must-See Events of 2014Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesCapacity crowds are expected for both sessions of the women's Final Four starting this weekend at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

One of the teams is the same, but the numbers are vastly different from 33 years ago. With Maryland, Stanford, Connecticut and Notre Dame set to open the women's Final Four on Sunday, we flash back to the women's first Final Four in 1982 to see how times have changed. With a 32-team bracket in 1982, Maryland (back in 2014 for its fourth Final Four), Louisiana Tech, Tennessee and Cheyney State -- a small, historically black college outside of Philadelphia coached by C. Vivian Stringer -- advanced to the Final Four in Nofolk, Va. A crowd of 6,000 attended the semifinals, and 9,531 were in attendance to watch Louisiana Tech, which featured All-American point guard Kim Mulkey, defeat Cheney 76-62 in the title game. Tickets for the weekend ranged from $5-$7 and 37 media credentials were granted. With tickets already sold out for both sessions of the 2014 Final Four, the semifinals and championship are expected to draw capacity crowds of nearly 20,000 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The price of tickets for both Sunday and Tuesday range from $170-$915, and remain higher on the secondary market. An exact tally of media credentials has yet to be released, but the record for most ever was set in Philadelphia in 2000, with a whooping 692 members of the media covering the event.

Beginning of an Era

April, 2, 2014
Apr 2
UConn BasketballBob Stowell/Getty ImagesThe 1995 UConn team attracted an estimated crowd of 100,000 fans to a victory parade in Hartford to celebrate the program's first NCAA title.

On this day in 1995, Geno Auriemma and Connecticut won their first women's basketball national championship with a 70-64 win over Pat Summitt and the Tennessee Lady Vols. Led by Naismith Player of the Year Rebecca Lobo and All-American Jennifer Rizzotti, the Huskies (35-0) became just the second women's basketball team in NCAA history to complete a perfect season. The title game was a rematch of UConn's 77-66 regular-season victory over then-top ranked Tennessee. After that win, UConn took over the No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history. In Minneapolis for the championship game, the Huskies rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to capture the title. The team -- which is widely credited for increasing the popularity of women's basketball -- was celebrated with a parade through the streets of Hartford that was attended by more than 100,000 fans. Rizzotti's image was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated shortly after the victory and various team members hit the talk-show circuit. UConn has since won seven more national championships and completed three additional undefeated seasons. The current Huskies are two wins away from their fourth perfect season and their ninth NCAA title. Their pursuit of perfection continues on Sunday in the Final Four in Nashville against Stanford, the team Connecticut beat in the national semifinals back in 1995.

The Best Ever?

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
UConn BasketballAP Photo/Bob ChildDiana Taurasi, Tamika Williams, Asjha Jones, Swin Cash and Sue Bird are considered by many to be the best starting five in the history of women's college basketball.

On this day in 2002, Connecticut beat Oklahoma 82-70 to win its third women's basketball national championship. That team is widely considered the best women's college basketball has ever seen. Led by Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones, Diana Taurasi and Tamika Williams, the Huskies completed a perfect season at 39-0. After a dominant regular season -- with a nine-point win at Virginia Tech marking the smallest margin of victory -- UConn rolled through the Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament. During its semifinal at the Alamodome in San Antonio, UConn routed archival Tennessee 79-56. In the NCAA championship game in front of a record crowd of 29,619, the Huskies and Sooners battled until the game's final minutes, when UConn pulled away behind a Taurasi three-point play and four consecutive free throws by Bird in the final 48 seconds. Cash was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player for her 20 points and 13 rebounds in the final. After the game, basketball legend and analyst Nancy Lieberman called the team the greatest squad to ever play the game. "The Huskies' starting five is the best I've ever seen -- passing, rebounding, defense and intensity," she told "They have an incredible killer instinct, a feel for the game no one else has had. They play relentless for 40 minutes."

The current UConn squad, which also is undefeated, looks to continue its quest to bring home the ninth NCAA championship in program history tonight in the Elite Eight against Texas A&M.

Titles time, anyone?

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
Rick Pitino, Jeff WalzAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesLouisville basketball coaches Rick Pitino and Jeff Walz both led their teams to the national championship game in 2013.

We're down to 12 teams in the men's bracket and 16 teams in the women's bracket, and four schools -- Connecticut, Tennessee, Kentucky and Louisville -- still have both their men's and women's teams alive and well amid the March Madness. There have been only 10 times in the history of the NCAA tournaments that both men's and women's programs from the same school have advanced all the way to the Final Four in the same year. Here we look back at those schools and how they fared:

Louisville, 2013: Both Cardinals teams made it all the way to the championship game. The men won the national championship with an 82-76 win over Michigan, but the women lost to Connecticut 93-60.

Connecticut, 2011: The men won their third national title in program history by holding off Butler 53-41 in the final, but the women were ousted in the semifinals by then-Big East rival and national runner-up Notre Dame 72-63.

Connecticut, 2009: The women won their sixth national title with a 76-54 rout over Louisville in the final. The men, however, fell to Michigan State 82-73 in the semifinals.

LSU, 2006: Neither team advanced to the final. The men fell to runner-up UCLA 59-45 and the women were ousted by runner-up Duke 64-45.

Michigan State, 2005: The women made it to the final but fell short, losing to Baylor 84-62. The men lost in the semifinals to eventual champion North Carolina, 87-71.

Connecticut, 2004: Connecticut became the only school to celebrate men's and women's basketball national championships in the same year. Led by Most Outstanding Player Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon, the men beat Georgia Tech 82-73 in the final. Led by Diana Taurasi, the women topped rival Tennessee 70-61 to claim their third consecutive national championship.

Texas, 2003: Neither Longhorns squad advanced to the final and both lost to the eventual national champion. The men fell to Syracuse and Carmelo Anthony 94-84 in the semis, and the women were edged by Connecticut 71-69.

Oklahoma, 2002: The women advanced to the national championship game, but fell to UConn 82-70. The men were ousted in the semifinals by national runner-up Indiana, 73-64.

Duke, 1999: Both teams came up one win short of a national title. The men fell to Connecticut 77-74 in the national championship game, and the women lost to Purdue, 62-45, in the final.

Georgia, 1983: Both programs' runs came to an end in the national semifinals. The men lost 67-60 to Jim Valvano's NC State, the eventual national champions. The women fell to eventual champion USC and Cheryl Miller, 87-51.

First shining moment

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
AT&T StadiumMax Faulkner/Getty ImagesThe 2014 NCAA men's basketball championship game is expected to draw 80,000 fans to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

On this day in 1939, Oregon beat Ohio State 46-33 in the first championship game of the NCAA tournament. The inaugural tournament featured eight teams in a single-elimination format. Despite playing on the losing team, Buckeyes senior Jimmy Hull was named the Most Outstanding Player for his 58 points combined over Ohio State's three-game run to the final, which was played in front of 5,500 fans in Evanston, Ill. Launched one year after the inaugural National Invitational Tournament (NIT), the NCAA tournament was considered by many to be a less prestigious event for its first several years of existence. Eventually, as the NCAA tournament's field grew and participation rules changed, the NCAA tournament became the premier postseason event. The NCAA women's basketball tournament began in 1982 with a 32-team field. Louisiana Tech beat Cheyney 76-62 to claim the first title. Today, the men's tournament has expanded to 68 teams and the women's tournament to 64 teams.

Kim Mulkey late and great

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
Kim MulkeyAP Photo/Michael ConroyBaylor coach Kim Mulkey has won a total of four national titles as a head coach, assistant and player.

She's late to the dance, and history could be waiting. Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who served an NCAA suspension in the Lady Bears' 87-74 first-round victory over Western Kentucky on Saturday, will be making her 2014 NCAA tournament debut tonight when second-seeded Baylor takes on Cal in the second round (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2/Watch ESPN) with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Mulkey is the only person in the history of the NCAA women's basketball tournament who has won a national championship as both a player and a head coach. Mulkey was a member of the 1982 Louisiana Tech squad, winner of the inaugural NCAA title, and has coached Baylor to championships in 2005 and 2012. Three people have achieved this feat on the men's side -- Bobby Knight (Ohio State, Indiana), Dean Smith (Kansas, North Carolina) and Joe B. Hall (Kentucky). Among the elite group, Mulkey is the only one who has also won a national title as an assistant (Louisiana Tech, 1988). Mulkey, who served the one-game suspension for criticizing officials after the then-defending national champion Lady Bears lost to Louisville in a Sweet 16 game last March, is trying to make more history as just the third women's head coach to win three or more NCAA championships.

Feeling upset this March?

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
Ball StateAP Photo/Ed ReinkeBall State pulled off one of the biggest upsets in women's college basketball history when it beat Tennessee in the first round of the 2009 tournament.

They call it March Madness for a reason. Ahead of Saturday's tipoff of the 2014 NCAA women's basketball tournament, we're flashing back to three of the biggest upsets, starting with the most recent, in first-round history.

1. Ball State 71 , Tennessee 55, 2009: Entering the game, fifth-seeded Tennessee was 42-0 in the first two rounds of the tournament. Not only that, but the Lady Vols also were the two-time defending national champions. Then along came Ball State, a No. 12 seed making its first trip to the Big Dance. The Cardinals got 23 points from Porchia Green, and the Lady Vols became the first defending champions to lose their opening game.

2. Marist 67, Ohio State 63, 2007: Marist, seeded 13th, was no stranger to the NCAA tournament, but prior to 2007, it had never stuck around for the second round. Representing the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which was 0-21 in tournament play, Marist got 24 points from Julianne Viani and celebrated its first win in tournament history.

3. Harvard 71, Stanford 67, 1998: No team from the Ivy League had ever won a game at the NCAA women's tournament. And that was the good news. Tack on the fact that no No. 16 seed had ever knocked out a No. 1 seed -- in either the men's or women's tournament -- and the picture of what Harvard was up against becomes even clearer. And, did we mention that the game was on Stanford's home floor, where the Cardinal had a 59-game winning streak? But Allison Feaster scored 35 points and Harvard pulled off the historic upset to advance to the second round.

Perfectly Prepared

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
Geno Auriemma, Muffet McGrawAP Photo/Joe RaymondUConn coach Geno Auriemma and Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw are both looking for a perfect season and a national championship.

With UConn and Notre Dame both boasting perfect records heading into the NCAA tournament, 2014 goes down in history as just the second time two schools enter the women's tournament unbeaten. In 1998, Tennessee (33-0) and Liberty (28-0) put their unblemished records on the line in the tournament but met in the first round. Tennessee dominated No. 16 Liberty with a 102-58 rout to advance and went on to complete its perfect season with a sixth national championship. UConn (34-0) and Notre Dame (32-0), on the other hand, can't meet until the April 8 final in Nashville. UConn is looking for its fifth undefeated season (1995, 2002, 2009 and 2010) and ninth NCAA title while Notre Dame seeks its first perfect season and second title (2001).

Numbers add up to tall order for Cards

April, 9, 2013
Antonita Slaughter
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsAntonita Slaughter has helped spark Louisvilles run by making 17 3-pointers so far in the tournament. The all-time record is 20.
They’ve been overcoming long odds all tournament long, and the numbers don’t look so good once again for fifth-seeded Louisville heading into Tuesday night’s national championship game against Connecticut. The Cardinals are 1-12 all-time against the Huskies, including 12 losses in a row. Their last meeting, in January, resulted in a 72-58 loss. Furthermore, Connecticut is 7-0 all-time in championship games, and no team seeded fourth or lower has ever won the women’s title.

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Jeff Walz's sister was the first to star

April, 8, 2013
Jeff Walz
AP Photo/Dave MartinOne of the brightest stars Jeff Walz has ever coached is his sister, Jaime, who was the national high school player of the year in 1995-96.
Jeff Walz has led his Louisville women’s basketball team to the national championship game on Tuesday against Connecticut, but he’s not the only member of his family to grab headlines in the Bluegrass State and beyond. Walz’s younger sister, Jaime Richey, was the Gatorade girls’ basketball national player of the year in 1995-96 after scoring 4,948 career points for Highlands (Fort Thomas, Ky.). She then went on to star at Western Kentucky and helped lead the Hilltoppers to three NCAA tournament appearances. One of Walz's first coaching jobs was for Jaime's AAU team. Richey is currently the girls’ basketball coach at Highlands and is in New Orleans cheering her brother on.

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130 and counting for Skylar Diggins?

April, 7, 2013
Skylar Diggins
Reese Strickland/USA TODAY SportsSkylar Diggins and Notre Dame have lost in the title game the past two seasons.
Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins is shooting for 132. The senior already has the most wins in Notre Dame history with 130, but she’ll look to add to that total on Sunday against Connecticut and, if successful, again on Tuesday in the women’s NCAA tournament championship game. In addition to being the school’s all-time leader in wins, Diggins also is first in school history with 2,347 points and 277 steals. She ranks second all-time in assists with 737.

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