Sunday, April 1, 2012
Baylor two wins from historic season
By ESPN Stats & Info
Chalk prevailed in the NCAA Women’s Championship this year, with all four No. 1 seeds advancing to the Final Four for the second time in tournament history. In 1989, Auburn, Louisiana Tech, Maryland and Tennessee advanced to the national semifinals with the Lady Vols winning the title.
1 Connecticut vs 1 Notre Dame, 6:30 ET on ESPN
The matchup between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Connecticut Huskies is a familiar one. This will be their eighth meeting since the start of last season, including each of the last two Final Fours. Though Connecticut has dominated the series overall (29-7), Notre Dame has won three of the last four meetings.
This will be the 13th postseason meeting between these teams. Notre Dame has never beaten Connecticut in the Big East Championship, but the Irish have won each of their meetings in the NCAA Women’s Championship, both of which have come in the Final Four.
In a strength-versus-strength matchup between the nation’s top-ranked defense (Connecticut) and the nation’s second-ranked offense (Notre Dame), the ability of each team to get to the free throw line could be a factor.
Both teams are shooting over 76 percent at the foul line this season, ranking among the top 20 teams in the country.
Notre Dame had success pounding the ball inside against the Huskies this season, resulting in an average of 20 free throw attempts per game for the Irish. In all other games, the Huskies’ opponents averaged just 12.5 attempts per game.
1 Stanford vs 1 Baylor, 8:30 ET on ESPN
Not only is this a heavyweight matchup between two No. 1 seeds in Stanford and Baylor, it is also the 49th meeting between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AP Poll. The No. 1 team has won the last eight games, including two by Baylor this season.
This will also be the 10th time the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AP Poll have met in the NCAA Women’s Championship, with the No. 1 team winning the last three such matchups. The last No. 2 to beat a No. 1 in the tournament was Notre Dame, which defeated Connecticut in the 2001 Final Four en route to the national championship.
Baylor is 38-0 and bidding to become the first team in men’s or women’s basketball to reach the 40-win mark in a season.
If the Lady Bears go on to win the title, they would also become the seventh women’s team in NCAA history to finish a season undefeated.
All eyes will be on Baylor’s superstar, Brittney Griner, who is one of the best offensive and defensive weapons in the country. Griner leads the nation in blocks per game (5.2) and ranks fifth in both field goal percentage (61.1) and points per game (23.4).
The success of the Lady Bears’ offense is greatly affected by whether Griner touches the ball. With she's on the floor in the NCAA tournament and touches the ball, Baylor averages 1.42 points per possession and shoots 61 percent. When Griner does not touch the ball, Baylor averages 1.07 points per possession and its field goal percentage drops to 44 percent.