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ND Women’s Basketball

Staff Predictions: Final Four

, , and | Thursday, April 3, 2014

Vicky Jacobsen
Sports Writer 

You know ESPN was praying Notre Dame and Connecticut would meet in the national final. Two unbeaten teams, marquee programs, famous coaches and plenty of history between the programs – the hype basically writes itself.

Although No. 4 seed Maryland gave the Irish as much trouble as anyone this season, I still think an Irish-Huskies final is the most likely outcome. Unfortunately for women’s basketball fans, Natalie Achonwa’s torn ACL means we won’t get to see these rivals play at full strength.

UConn dealt with its own injury epidemic this season, but it might be too much to expect the Irish to adjust to losing Achonwa while playing the top team in the country. Don’t be surprised if the Huskies take home their ninth national championship.

PREDICTION: Connecticut over Notre Dame in the NCAA championship

 

Aaron Sant-Miller
Sports Writer

Though the upset storyline would be fun, Stanford’s 29th-ranked offense will be smothered by Connecticut’s top-ranked defense, which has allowed only 47.2 points per game. Conversely, Maryland’s defense, which doesn’t crack the top 50 in the NCAA, will struggle to slow down Notre Dame’s second-ranked offense, which leads the NCAA in 3-point shooting at 41.3 percent.

Though the Irish were my choice coming into this week, the costly loss of Natalie Achonwa will greatly hamper Notre Dame’s scoring down low. Though the Irish are a team built upon depth and have two of the best perimeter players in the nation in Jewell Loyd and Kayla McBride, they will struggle to keep up with a Huskies squad carrying five players scoring in the double digits, all of whom received AP All-American recognition.

PREDICTION: Connecticut over Notre Dame in the NCAA championship

 

Samantha Zuba
Assistant Managing Editor

Notre Dame nearly lost control of its last matchup against Maryland after blowing a 22-point advantage, but it was able to hold on for the 87-83 win in late January.  The  Irish needed 51 combined points in that game from Jewell Loyd and Kayla McBride.
Without senior forward Natalie Achonwa, this second matchup will be tougher, but the talented Irish bench should help Notre Dame squeeze past the Terrapins into the championship game to face Connecticut, a likely winner over Stanford.

With sophomore guard Jewell Loyd and senior Kayla McBride taking more shots in Achonwa’s absence and behind a locked-in defense that limited Baylor to 34 percent shooting from the field in the Sweet 16 on Monday, the Irish edge Connecticut for the title.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame over Connecticut in the NCAA championship

 

Greg Hadley
Associate Sports Editor

How can Notre Dame possibly win without Natalie Achonwa? That’s what most people seem to be saying, but then again, most people were saying the Irish were in trouble without Skylar Diggins.

They proved the doubters wrong by relying on a balanced, dangerous attack, so the idea they’re doomed against No. 4 seed Maryland is a little extreme. Muffet McGraw will have her team pumped for the matchup and the Terrapins aren’t sneaking up on the Irish after nearly upsetting them Jan. 27.

If the Irish do advance, they’ll probably be playing one of the deepest teams in UConn history. Still, somehow I can’t pick against the Irish. Achonwa’s not in the lineup, but you can’t discount her spark from the bench, and don’t underestimate the team’s motivation to prove the doubters wrong. They’ve done it all season long.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame over Connecticut for the NCAA championship

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Vicky Jacobsen

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About Greg Hadley

Greg Hadley is a senior from Rockville, Maryland, majoring in political science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He served as The Observer's Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 term and currently covers Notre Dame baseball and women's basketball.

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