The best basketball game you won't watch, but should
76 wins, no losses. That is the combined record of the two teams playing in Tuesday’s NCAA women’s basketball national championship game. Connecticut has gone unblemished through 39 games and Notre Dame through 37. It’s a championship of titans — and it will have less viewership than your average second-round matchup in the men’s NCAA Tournament.
Let’s think about this. If there were two undefeated teams playing in the men’s basketball championship, there would be no break to the pregame analysis on TV. Well, maybe one break: LeBron has to have breakfast at some time, warranting full coverage.
Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely guilty of not following women’s basketball. I’ll admit; I haven’t watched a women’s basketball game this season that didn’t include Utah State. But I do regret that. The level of competition keeps getting better.
UConn has had one of the more dominant stretches for any sports team ever. The Huskies have won half of the championships in the last 12 years and have been to nine Final Fours in that span.
Notre Dame has been to four-straight Final Fours, and this is its third championship game in the last four years.
These two teams were in the same conference last season and played each other four times. Notre Dame beat UConn twice in the regular season and in the ACC championship. However, UConn beat Notre Dame in the Final Four en route to the NCAA championship.
These two teams are in the top-ten in scoring. Notre Dame is No. 2 in the nation in scoring with 86.8 points per game. UConn is No. 1 in the nation with points against per game with 47.2.
Great story line, right? A lot of things to be excited about, right? So why aren’t more people sweating it out in anticipation? After all, one team will go to bed on Tuesday undefeated and the other will have one loss on the season, in the most vital game.
Maybe people are jaded to the greatness of UConn and Notre Dame. Maybe greatness is boring — after all, it kind of is. Where is the excitement in the same teams dominating? Looking at the men’s bracket: Who knew UConn or Kentucky would be in the championship?
In women’s basketball, there is less room for Cinderella. There are no Daytons in the Elite Eight or Butlers in the Final Four. The closest thing to a Cinderella story in this year’s women’s tournament was Brigham Young in the Sweet Sixteen. Gag. The Final Four consisted of perennial powers this year, UConn, Notre Dame, Maryland and Stanford. There isn’t a whole lot of room for upsets.
UConn and Notre Dame have been on a crash course toward each other, with little crashing at that. So it does get boring, yes.
However, the bigger issue is that in this day and age, people simply don’t care that much about women’s sports. After all, did anyone know that the U.S. women’s national soccer team fired their coach this weekend, or for that matter, even know his name? It’s Tom Sermanni. The issue even happened on the stage of the pinnacle of women’s sports, international soccer, and it was hardly publicized.
That needs to change. I need to change that within myself, too. So I’m going to start on Tuesday, and I encourage everyone else to do the same.
I’m going to watch the championship game; not because I feel obligated to, but because I want to see two titans of the sport duke it out on the biggest stage. If only I could be in Nashville for the game.
-- Jeffrey Dahdah is a sophomore majoring in journalism and is the assistant sports editor for the Statesman. He is an avid Cardinals, Rams, Aggies and Jazz fan. At one point he was the Statesman's beat writer for women's basketball. You can email him at email@example.com or tweet him @dahdahUSU.
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