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ND Women’s Basketball

Final Four Insider: Staff Predictions

| Thursday, April 2, 2015

Renee Griffin

Sports Writer

With only No. 1 seeds in the Final Four, there’s no Cinderella story. However, there are also no guarantees for the remaining teams.

Connecticut, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Maryland have all played well through the regular season and tournament, but no team is unbeatable. The Huskies and Gamecocks both had to come back from halftime deficits in the Elite Eight, while the Irish trailed for nearly 19 minutes of their game. The Terrapins had their lowest-scoring first half of the year.

Connecticut and Notre Dame have been here the most, and their consistency will carry them into the championship. There, an Irish attack at full strength and Notre Dame players hungry for their first title since 2001 will finally dethrone the Huskies.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame defeats Connecticut in the title game.

Samantha Zuba

Senior Sports Writer

The No. 2 Irish have come a long way since losing to No. 1 Connecticut, 76-58, on Dec. 6.

They didn’t have freshman forward and rebounding leader Brianna Turner, out with a shoulder injury for that game. They didn’t have the cohesion they have now. Their freshman didn’t have the experience they have now.

The Irish have gotten hot at the right time. They’ve been rolling since the ACC tournament, which they won with a 71-58 statement victory over No. 7 Florida State.

They had to play from behind against DePaul and Baylor in the NCAA tournament, but they’ve demonstrated their ability to stay cool under pressure, all the way to the Final Four.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame defeats Connecticut in the title game.

Mary Green

Assistant Managing Editor

Muffet McGraw said she wanted Lindsay Allen to be more than a facilitator this year, and Allen’s done just that lately, flashing her shooting touch to lead the Irish past Stanford and Baylor.

While Jewell Loyd had a strong second-half against the Cardinal, she still has not performed to her full potential this tournament, and that should set off alarms in the South Carolina, Connecticut and Maryland locker rooms.

An Irish backcourt with Allen in the zone and Loyd playing at her best is, well, scary.

Those two guards always show up to play when the stakes are highest, and that should be enough for Notre Dame to overcome any size disadvantages down low.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame defeats Connecticut in the title game.

Greg Hadley

Editor-in-Chief

Four top seeds won all four games each to make it to the Final Four. So far, so predictable.

But now is when things get interesting. Maryland is the only team left Connecticut hasn’t beaten. Notre Dame and South Carolina were both thrashed by the Huskies, but Connecticut also looked surprisingly vulnerable in the Elite Eight against lowly Dayton. Then again, the Huskies also won by epic proportions in the Sweet 16 against Texas.

Connecticut’s three-peat is not as secure as some, including myself, first thought. Look at what the Flyers did offensively, pushing the pace to breakneck speeds and making every possible shot. If any other team can do that and sustain it for two halves, it’s the nation’s fifth-best offense: Notre Dame.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame defeats  Connecticut in the title game.

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

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