Four Teams. Three Games. One Goal. One City. One Champion.
This year it features the legacy of UConn Huskies, a Beaver squad of Oregon State, the Orange Surge of Syracuse, and the Cinderella Huskies of Washington.
The Final Four begins April 3, and the National Championship game will be April 5. The UConn Huskies are no strangers to the Final Four, as this is their 17th appearance (out of 35 tournaments). However, this is the first Final Four for Syracuse, Washington, and Oregon State. The two games that are set in stone fro Sunday are the UConn Huskies against the Oregon State Beavers and the Syracuse Orange against the Washington Huskies. The winners of both games will meet two days later for the title.
The Huskies (36-0) are the epitome of women’s college basketball success. They have won 10 national titles, including five of the last seven. The Huskies post four overall No. 1 picks in the WNBA, more than any other school. Anything less than a title is a disappointment for the Huskies, as proclaimed by senior, Breanna Stewart.
Stewart is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA and stands at 6’4″. She utilizes this height to her advantage as she averages nearly 14 points per game, while collecting over six rebounds, and three blocks per game. Her style of play illustrates the style of play of all the players from UConn. The Huskies light up the net averaging 88.4 points per game. They are consistent shooters with a 52.9 field-goal percentage.
Opponents are suffocated by the defense of UConn averaging a measly 48.2 points per game. Their opponents shoots at an ice cold rate with a 33.1 field-goal percentage. And nobody comes close to the Huskies in margin of victory, as they absolutely slaughter opponents by a margin of 40.3 points per game.
The craziest thing about the Huskies though, is they are No. 1 in the nation in all the categories listed above besides opponents field goal percentage. With this style of play, there is no wonder why the Huskies were the overwhelming favorites coming into the season to make a four-peat.
If UConn wins the title this will be the first time for a team to win four consecutive titles in women’s college basketball and the second occurrence in collegiate basketball male and female (UCLA men’s team 1967-1973).
The UConn women's team is on a multi-year run unlike any seen before. pic.twitter.com/PUTP0CKqJs
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 29, 2016
The Oregon State Beavers (32-4) come in to the Final with previous success as they have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before this season. The Beavers may have the most physically built team in the Final Four. The average Beaver player stands at 6 foot 1 inch. This is an inch and a half over the second tallest team Washington, and two inches over the Huskies. Though, height is only an advantage when you are capable of using those extra inches. Oregon State, luckily knows how to use this advantage averaging 44.11 rebounds per game (No. 9 in the nation) and out rebounding their opponent by a margin of 11.7 a game (No. 6 in the nation).
Like the Huskies of UConn their defense is overwhelming only allowing 51.2 points per game. Opponents struggle shooting over these trees of Oregon shooting only for 31.7 percent (No. 1 in the nation).
The offense of Oregon State is not very high scoring, but efficient. They score 67.3 points per game (No. 113 in the nation) and make 44 percent of their shots (No. 39 in the nation). Oregon State prefers to shoot within the arc rather than living on the three ball only making 6.7 three pointers a game at a rate of 35.6 percent (No. 26 in the nation). Though if they find themselves against a high scoring team they could find themselves left behind.
Oregon State’s kryptonite is their ball control. They are the only team left in the Final Four who commit more turnovers than they force. Their turnover margin is horrendous as they turn the ball over 4.75 more times than their opponents per game. This places them as the No. 328 in the nation in turnover margin and there are only 344 schools in Division I. If Oregon State is able to limit their turnovers, they have the talent to potentially pull off an upset ruining UConn’s 4-peat dreams.
— Oregon State WBB (@OregonStateWBB) March 29, 2016
The Orange of Syracuse (29-7) are new-comers to this stage of women’s basketball, as the furthest they have advanced prior to this year was the round of 32. This stage is unfamiliar for the Syracuse women but, their trip stamped Syracuse into the history books, becoming the ninth school to have both women and men team in the Final Four.
— SU Women’s Hoops (@CuseWBB) March 28, 2016
The Orange force a nation’s best 10 more turnovers a game then they commit, one reason for what has kept the Orange alive throughout the season and continue their strong post season run forcing 85 turnovers in four games. With all these extra possessions, Syracuse average 72 points per game (No. 39 in NCAA).
The Final Four is set. Three teams are making their 1st appearance while UConn is making its 9th consecutive. pic.twitter.com/LhsJ5Lm8UV
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 29, 2016
The Washington Huskies (26-10), come in to the Final Four as a shock to most. They are the Cinderella story of the Final Four. Their stats are far from dazzling as many of them are in the middle of the pack. Though the stars have aligned smiling upon the Huskies and have guided them this far. But to say they haven’t earned to be in the Final Four is a far stretch as these Huskies have had a rebirth in the tournament.
Their scoring this season has been at times troubling scoring 71.8 points per game but in the tournament they are averaging 77.25. Though shooting from the field is not where the Huskies beat you it is from the charity stripe. The Huskies shoot free throws as a team at 78 percent (No. 6 in the nation). They average 13.75 points per game from the free throw line during this tournament run.
Despite the stats of the Huskies it can only tell you so much. They got here in the biggest stage arguably in women sports. No matter how you look at it they have a chance at the title and all they need is two solid games to win it all. The question becomes can the Huskies muster up solid performances to win the title?
There you have it. Any of these four teams could pull it off. So the answer is who will it go to? Will it be the Legacy of Uconn, the Trees of Oregon State, the Orange Crush, or will Cinderella Washington keep dancing? There’s only one way to know…watch the games. ESPN will have all of the coverage with the semifinals on Sunday, April 3 and the Final on Tuesday, April 5.