UConn guard Paige Bueckers (5) works the ball past Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Saturday, March 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Preview: Stanford Takes On UConn for NCAA Championship Spot

This Friday, No. 1 seed Stanford will take on blue blood UConn for a spot in the NCAA championship game. Heading into tomorrow’s match, here’s what you need to know.

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Juhasz Out, but Bueckers is Back

After hyperextending her knee in December, UConn’s Paige Bueckers was out for three months. Since her return to the court in mid-February, the sophomore has made waves. In the Huskies’ Elite Eight match against NC State, Bueckers showed out, scoring 23 points following the second quarter. After Dorka Juhasz suffered a season-ending wrist fracture, Bueckers and the rest of the team rallied to win for their fallen teammate.

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Juhasz underwent surgery successfully and plans to return to the team next season. Until then, she’ll be cheering on Bueckers and the rest of the Huskies through the remainder of the tournament.

The Defending Champions

Last year, Stanford brought home their first championship title since 1992: a 30-year gap that included a loss to Connecticut in the final game of the tournament. The Cardinals look to secure back-to-back titles, and they bring with them an impressive roster – including four top-ranked players.

Cameron Brink and Haley Jones hold the top two spots in the Pac-12 for rebounds per game. Brink also recently broke her own record: the Stanford record for most blocks in a season.

https://twitter.com/StanfordWBB/status/1509266730094411785

Joining Brink & Jones as a defensive leader for the conference is Lexie Hull, who holds the No. 1 slot for steals per game. On the other side of the ball, Hannah Jump has the highest average in the conference for 3-point field goals made.

Additionally, Stanford has been undefeated since December, when they fell to top-overall seed South Carolina.

Cardinals-Huskies Rivalry

This isn’t the first time UConn and Stanford have faced off in the Final Four. Their tournament semifinal history dates back to 1995, when the Huskies took down the Cardinals 87-60 and went on to win their first national title. Since then, the two teams have met four more times in the Final Four, with UConn winning three of the four matches.

Beyond the tournament, both universities are home to top women’s basketball programs. Connecticut boasts 11 championship titles since 1982 – but Stanford was last year’s champion, and they’re hoping for a repeat. Additionally, Stanford’s head coach Tara VanDerveer and UConn’s HC Geno Auriemma are two of the winningest D1 basketball coaches in history.

Stanford faces UConn tomorrow, April 1 at the Target Center in Minneapolis. TV coverage will begin on ESPN at 9:30 p.m. ET.

About Sophie Goodwin

Sophie is a telecommunications major graduating in Summer 2022. She works as a host & Edutainer at ITProTV, and as a student producer, writer, voice, & sports coordinator for ESPN Gainesville. She is also a voice actor independently for various clients on a national level.

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