The University of Connecticut Huskies are aiming for a fifth straight national title, but the South Carolina Gamecocks, Stanford Cardinal and Mississippi State Bulldogs may have other ideas as the start of the 2017 NCAA women's Final Four approaches.
All of the action is slated to tip off Friday evening at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, and it will be worth keeping a close eye on as the Huskies attempt to rattle off their 112th straight win with a berth in the championship on the line.
So as preparations ramp up, here's a rundown of when and where you can catch all of the women's Final Four action:
|2017 NCAA Women's Final Four Schedule|
|Matchup||Date||Time (ET||TV||Live Stream|
|No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Stanford||Friday, March 31||7:30 p.m.||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|No. 1 UConn vs. No. 2 Mississippi State||Friday, March 31||10 p.m.||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|National title game||Sunday, April 2||6 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
As a reminder, every game can be live-streamed at WatchESPN.com.
No. 1 UConn vs. No. 2 Mississippi State
The Huskies enter Friday's national semifinal ranked third in the nation in scoring at 87.7 points per game. They also boast two of the nation's most dominant scorers in Napheesa Collier (20.6 points per game) and Katie Lou Samuelson (20.3 points per game).
So how do the Bulldogs plan on slowing that attack down? Well, they don't—at least not in the conventional sense.
"I think one thing we've got to do is we got to score," Bulldogs head coach Vic Schaefer said, per Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch. "I mean, it's not going to be a 50-48 game. That's where we've been different in the last two-and-a-half weeks. We've kind of maybe not focused so much on trying to hold everybody scoreless."
In order for the Bulldogs to keep pace, though, they're going to have to put forth one of their best offensive performances of the season, considering they average nearly 11 points fewer per game (76.8) compared to the Huskies.
That said, the Bulldogs did show potent scoring punch earlier in the tournament when they dropped 94 points in an Elite Eight win over the Baylor Bears.
If Mississippi State is going to replicate that effort, Morgan William—who dropped 41 points against Baylor—will need to come up with another superlative performance that bucks season-long trends.
As ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel noted, the 41 points "were about 31 over her season average, and 12 more than her career high. William had scored just 11 points combined in the Bulldogs' three previous NCAA tournament games this year."
It may be a tall task, but William and the Bulldogs have already defied the odds once en route to clinching a spot in the Final Four.
Now it's a matter of hoping lightning strikes twice with a massive upset in sight.
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Stanford
For the second time in three years, the Gamecocks are in the Final Four.
However, they'll hope this year's run includes a national semifinal victory after they were ousted before the title game two years ago by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
In order to achieve that feat, the Gamecocks will lean on A'Ja Wilson and Kaela Davis to do the heavy lifting in Dallas.
Wilson, in particular, will be viewed as a key to victory considering she was recently named a First-Team All-American for the second time.
"Watching her grow into the force she is today, on and off the court, has been one of the great joys of my basketball career," head coach Dawn Staley said, per The State's Ben Breiner. "A'ja deserves every accolade she gets because as talented as she is, she never stops working to be better."
If there's good news for Stanford, it's that its defense has allowed opponents to score a meager 56.3 points per game.
And while the Gamecocks' offense has been more potent to the tune of 77.0 points per game, the Cardinal don't lag all that far behind at 72.2 points a night.
It won't be easy, but if Stanford can slow things down and dictate pace as a way to disrupt South Carolina's rhythm, the Cardinal could etch out a spot in the national championship game.