Undefeated No. 1 seeds Notre Dame and Connecticut remain on a collision course in the NCAA women's tournament. The pair have been steamrolling their opponents, but things are about to get more difficult now that the action has moved to the Elite Eight.
As you'll see in my below predictions, I don't expect either of these powerhouses to lose in the upcoming round, but we have reached the point where if one or both did lose, it wouldn't be as shocking as the NCAA just calling off the remainder of the tournament.
Have a look at the upcoming schedule and my picks for the Elite Eight, and then I'll delve a little deeper in a couple of my predictions.
|Women's NCAA Tournament Elite Eight TV Schedule|
|Date||Matchup||Prediction||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|March 31||No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Baylor||Notre Dame||7:30 p.m.||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|March 31||No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 3 Texas A&M||Connecticut||9:30 p.m.||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|April 1||No. 4 Maryland vs. No. 3 Louisville||Maryland||7 p.m.||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|April 1||No. 4 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Stanford||Stanford||9 p.m.||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|Schedule source: NCAA.com|
No. 4 Maryland vs. No. 3 Louisville
This should be the best game of the Elite Eight. Both Maryland and Louisville have made people take notice while reaching the Elite Eight.
Maryland squeaked by No. 5 Texas, 69-64, in the round of 32. The narrow victory left them as an afterthought heading into a matchup with No. 1 seed Tennessee.
After taking down Tennessee 73-62, Maryland is not an afterthought anymore. Although Maryland would still appear to be using its afterthought status as motivation.
Coach Brenda Frese makes it clear, in a quote provided by the Associated Press' Teresa M. Walker in The Washington Times, the Terrapins are playing with a chip on their shoulder: "Maybe people will start talking about Maryland and what Maryland's accomplished. We have a story too. We have tradition. I'm so proud of how these kids fought."
Meanwhile, Louisville has advanced with ease. The Cardinals' closest contest in this tournament came last game when they advanced past LSU, 73-47.
Against Maryland, that lack of a close tournament game will come back to haunt the team.
The Terrapins will ride the hot hand of Alyssa Thomas. The forward scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against Tennessee.
With a lineup that features three guards in the starting rotation, Louisville will not be able to contain Thomas.
The Cardinals will get their points and keep this game close, but that is when the Terrapins' seasoning from this tournament will lead them to victory.
Prediction: Maryland 73, Louisville 69
No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Baylor
Notre Dame is just one win away from making its fourth straight Final Four, but it is Notre Dame which is looking for revenge after the Lady Bears beat the Irish in the 2012 NCAA championship game.
Baylor won't make it easy on them, however.
The Bears feature a supremely dangerous scorer in senior guard Odyssey Sims. With 25 points in Baylor's 90-72 victory over Kentucky last round, Sims became just the second player to score more than 1,000 points in a season in women's college basketball history.
Sims is going to keep Baylor in this game and make it interesting, but she won't be able to do it on her own. Notre Dame has too much talent.
Senior guard Kayla McBride is not as athletic as Sims, but she is an outstanding player and heady leader. For the season, she averages 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists.
Not too mention McBride isn't even the highest scorer in her own backcourt. Jewell Loyd averages 18.4 points per game.
As if Notre Dame's talent wasn't daunting enough for Baylor, the Irish will be playing on their home court and have won 27 straight games there. This is all too much for Baylor to overcome.