Two undefeated teams. Two Cinderella stories. A reprise from one of the most memorable basketball games in years.
Good grief, Saturday's Sweet 16 action in the women's college basketball tournament will be epic.
Below, you'll find everything you'll need to tune in and enjoy these contests, including my predictions and an analysis of the matchups. On Saturday, the ladies are going to put on a show.
|Saturday at noon||(3) Kentucky vs. (2) Baylor||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Saturday at 2 p.m,||(5) Oklahoma State vs. (1) Notre Dame||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Saturday at 4:30 p.m.||(12) Brigham Young vs. (1) Connecticut||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Saturday at 6:30 p.m.||(7) DePaul vs. (3) Texas A&M||ESPN||WatchESPN|
Baylor over Kentucky
Notre Dame over Oklahoma State
UConn over BYU
Texas A&M over DePaul
Upsets happen. I just don't see them happening on Saturday.
For starters, it's hard to imagine Oklahoma State ending Notre Dame's unbeaten season. Kayla McBride alone is averaging 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, and Oklahoma State likely won't have an answer for her overall game. Maybe an up-and-down Oklahoma State team will make this interesting, but it seems more likely that Notre Dame will keep on rolling.
Speaking of unbeaten teams, UConn has yet to lose a game this season. Can BYU end the streak?
BYU coach Jeff Judkins knows the challenge that faces his team, but he's also not ready to concede just yet, as he told Eric Olson of the Associated Press (via CBS Connecticut):
It’s very intimidating, and they’ve been here every year, so they’re not nervous or excited probably as much as we are. Anybody on any given night—a team can be off, foul trouble, injury, some team can be really on, so you just don’t know.
Is Jennifer Hamson enough to combat an extremely talented UConn front line? it seems doubtful, but you never know.
Baylor facing Kentucky is a much more intriguing matchup, however, mostly because lower-seeded Kentucky already beat the Lady Bears this season. Mechelle Voepel and Charlie Creme of ESPN recall that epic contest:
Four overtimes later, Kentucky prevailed 133-130 in the highest-scoring game in Division I women's college basketball history. All the buildup to Saturday's regional semifinal rematch will rightly reference this early-season offensive slugfest between the Lady Bears and Wildcats.
Baylor's Odyssey Sims scored 47 points in 41 minutes and undoubtedly would have produced plenty more had she not fouled out in the first overtime. It was her statement game, announcing to the world that the Brittney Griner era at Baylor was officially over and this was now her team.
To ask for another epic is asking too much. Kentucky, in particular, cannot expect another 43-point performance from Jennifer O'Neill off the bench. However, that Friday night in Dallas illustrated how evenly matched these teams are. With the stakes much higher in this one, the intensity level should rise higher even if the point total doesn't.
Kentucky couldn't stop Sims on that night, and it's unlikely it'll be able to stop her this time around. Oh, and since that loss, Baylor is 24-3. Kentucky, meanwhile, is 16-8 since. These are very evenly matched teams, but I'll take a Lady Bears team that has played better of late.
But expect one of the games of the tournament. Without question, it will be a fun one.
Finally, DePaul will try to pull off another upset against Texas A&M in a region full of upsets. If DePaul can beat Duke, it can also knock off Texas A&M, though I like the balance the Lady Aggies have in Courtney Williams, Karla Gilbert, Jordan Jones and Courtney Walker. Texas A&M is also a strong defensive team and DePaul won't find it easy to get good looks.
I could easily see DePaul keeping its strong run going. But on paper, at least, I just think Texas A&M is the stronger squad.