Women's College Basketball: Connecticut Vs. Stanford Final Four Preview

Greg EvansCorrespondent IApril 3, 2009

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 19:  Head coach Geno Auriemma of the Connecticut Huskies encourages his team to play defense during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels on January 19, 2009 at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Sunday's second Final Four matchup features two of the premier programs in Women's College Basketball. UConn has held onto it's No. 1 ranking from preseason polls, and has been the favorite to win the Championship the whole way.

Stanford, on the other hand, has been some what of an unexpected success this season. They lost Candice Wiggins, the PAC-10 all-time leading scorer (according to ESPN.com), to the WNBA and their starting PG to a knee injury early in the season.

The Cardinal have come together as a team and were worthy of a No. 1 seed, but the selection committee awarded them a No. 2.

All that stands in the way of UConn's possible sixth National Championship is the resilient Cardinal.

On paper, these teams look like polar opposites. UConn is lead by All-American Sophomore PG Maya Moore, while Stanford is headed by All-American C/F Jayne Appel.


Advantage: Push

This set of matchups is too close to call. Jayne Appel is almost guaranteed to get her points for Stanford, but with the emergence of Conneticut's Tina Charles this season, the battle in the low post should be exciting.

If Appel can get strong support from Kayla Pedersen and company, then I can see Stanford having a slight advantage here.


Advantage: UConn

This matchup almost goes without saying. Four of UConn's top five scorers are guards.

The matchup between Maya Moore and Jeannette Pohlen should be interesting. Moore is, basically, the premier PG in Women's College Basketball, and Pohlen stepped into the role, basically learning on the job.

If Pohlen can limit Moore, Stanford has a chance of staying in this game.


Advantage: UConn

There is only one coach more decorated than UConn's Geno Auriemma, and she coaches in Knoxville. Auriemma has been at the head of all five of UConn's National Championship teams, and has appeared in the Final Four nine times.

This is not to discount Stanford's Tara VanDervee, because she has had a very successful 29 years with the Cardinal. VanDervee has lead Stanford to two National Championships and six Final Four appearances, the last one was the defeat of UConn in 2008.

This is an incredible coaching matchup. Both coaches have been at their respective schools for over twenty years. If any aspiring coaches need a role model, you could probably find one in this game.


UConn by 12

Connecticut will be too much for Stanford, especially when it comes to the perimeter. Because of the stellar play of Jayne Appel, Stanford hangs with UConn until the closing minutes, but Stanford is out gunned by UConn's guards.

If Stanford wants to win this game, they have to create pressure on the perimeter and Appel must keep Charles quiet for the majority of the game. If Stanford disrupts UConn's guards, this game is winnable by the Cardinal.


*Stats from UConnHuskies.com, GoStanford.com and ESPN.com