Notre Dame/UConn set to be reunited
When I came onto the break in the late 1990s, it really wasn't much of a rivalry as the Huskies won the first 11 games when they were conference rivals. It all began to change on Jan. 15, 2001 when Notre Dame topped UConn 92-76. UConn would win the rematch in the Big East tournament before the Fighting Irish took the one that mattered the most in the 2001 national semifinals.
Other than wins in 2004 and 2005 when UConn was between the Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore eras, UConn reestablished its dominance winning 16 of 18. The tide turned again during the Skylar Diggins/Kayla McBride years as Notre Dame won seven of eight.
UConn has won the last four meetings including three in national championship games heading into tonight's game/
What I have always appreciated about this game is how similar the head coaches are. They tend to not only recruit the same types of players but the same players.
Notre Dame recruited UConn's top two scorers - Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier. On the other end of things, UConn was involved in the recruitments of Brianna Turner, Kathryn Westbeld, Arike Ogunbowale and Erin Boley and other than Boley, they are slated to start tonight.
There are so many keys to tonight's game but none might be more pivotal than how the game is officiated.
UConn has worked around early foul trouble with Gabby Williams and Samuelson among the key players seeing playing time limited due to a whistle or two going against them. Teams like Baylor and Texas have made it a priority to force the issue against a smaller UConn frontcourt but shockingly went away from that strategy. Something tells me that if Notre Dame has success scoring in the paint tonight, Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw won't stop going inside.
It should be a good one.