Top overall seed Connecticut and No. 4 seed Syracuse will battle for the national title in Indianapolis tonight at 8:30 p.m. Holding a perfect record of 37-0 the UConn girls will compete for an NCAA-record 11th national championship (4th straight). Syracuse (30-7) clawed their way to the national championship game by beating the Washington Huskies in their first ever national semi-final game with a score of 80-59.
With an astonishing seventy-four consecutive wins and the best player in the country, Breanna Stewart on their side, the Huskies aren’t going to make it easy for the Orange tonight. The 6’4 senior who averages (19.2 points per game , 8.7 rebounds per game, and 124 total blocks) has been named three-time player of the year. But the talent doesn’t stop at Stewart, they boast several elite athletes including Moriah Jefferson (12.6 PPG, 5.5 APG) and Morgan Tuck (13.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG) who make up one of the greatest trios in the nation. It doesn’t stop there, the Huskies have four total players who average double digit points per game, and nine players who average ten plus minutes on the court.
Many critics are saying that having a team do so well so consistently is making women’s basketball boring to watch. However, Carolyn Peck former University of Florida Women’s basketball coach says that is simply not true. Geno Auriemma, head coach at UConn has helped the lady Huskies get to where they are now. He has led the team to ten national championships and has won six national Naismith College Coach of the Year awards. Peck says that Auriemma has changed the degree of the game.
This Syracuse team knows what they are up against and bring power to the game as well. The Orange are disruptive inside and outside the arc and have a great defense that knows how to force turnovers. They rank second in the nation in steals per game with 12.7 and first in the nation in turnover margin (+10.22). The Orange have three players who average double digits per game, leading the team with an average 16.2 PPG is Alexis Peterson, followed by Brianna Butler (13.5), and Brittney Sykes (10.2).
For Syracuse to have a shot at victory, they’ll have to do what they’ve done best all season, force UConn to turn the ball over. However, it’s going to take more than creating turn overs to beat a team like Connecticut, they’ll have to play a near perfect game, and hope for a poor game by UConn. For the Huskies, they just need continue to do what they’ve done for the past three years; be the best in the country.