The women’s Final Four will tip off on Sunday night in Denver, with Baylor facing Stanford and Connecticut battling Notre Dame. Michelle Smith of ESPNW joined Bill Littlefield to talk about the games.
The match-up between Notre Dame and Connecticut will be the fourth meeting between the two teams this year. Notre Dame beat the Huskies twice during the regular season before UConn got their revenge, beating the Irish in the Big East tournament. Smith likes the Irish to advance.
“Notre Dame is a pretty complete team, and they’ve been playing so well all season long,” she said. “They’ve had this run of wins against Connecticut. I’m going to go with Notre Dame.”
Stanford has had a fairly easy path through the NCAA tournament, winning all four of their games by double-digits so far. Smith said she has been very impressed with their performance.
“They’re a very good team, and the Ogwumike sisters are outstanding players,” she said. “If Griner isn’t Griner, then [Nnemkadi] might be the National Player of The Year. She’s had that good of a season.”
All that being said, the undefeated Baylor Bears remain the prohibitive favorite to win the next two games and take home the National Championship trophy on Tuesday night. However, Smith doesn’t feel like it’s a foregone conclusion.
“I never buy into whether a team is absolutely invincible,” she said. “I think it’s interesting that people don’t see a way in which they can be beat, and I don’t believe that. I certainly think this isn’t a done deal.”
However, Smith, when asked to make a pick, still went with the consensus.
“I’m going to say Baylor, and that’s not a huge stretch, because nobody has beaten them yet. They’ve played everybody but Stanford at this point. I think you have to look at Baylor, but I hate to go into a Final Four assuming a foregone conclusion. It certainly is not as much fun.”