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Staff Predictions: ND Women’s Basketball

| Tuesday, March 14, 2017

NCAA_bracket_womenLauren Weldon | The Observer

Ben Padanilam, Editor-in-Chief

There’s no doubt the Irish are peaking at the right time; head coach Muffet McGraw said as much following the team’s wins over Louisville and Duke on the way to Notre Dame’s fourth straight ACC championship.

And as it now prepares for the NCAA tournament, Notre Dame is exactly where it wants to be: back atop the Lexington region and on the opposite side of the bracket from UConn. The path to the championship won’t be easy, as it could feature a game in Rupp Arena against No. 4 seed Kentucky, a rematch of last year’s loss to Stanford in the Elite Eight and a Final Four matchup with Stockton’s top seed, South Carolina.

Wins in those games would likely give Notre Dame the championship game it wants: a date in Dallas with UConn. And while Notre Dame’s talent should give it some room for error in those other games, the Irish won’t have any such room against a Huskies squad that already beat them at home in December. And as good as the Irish have been as of late, they have also struggled, especially defensively, at various points this season. So although Notre Dame has the talent to bring an end to UConn’s reign, it will need to show a consistency it has struggled to achieve thus far.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame loses to Connecticut in the title game.

Elizabeth Greason, Sports Editor

Despite being a No. 1 seed, Notre Dame’s route to the championship game will be far from easy, especially since — if all goes according to plan for both teams — it will have to face No. 2 seed Stanford in the Elite Eight, a rematch of the game that led to an early Irish exit from the tournament in the Sweet 16 last season. The Irish have learned from that mistake and are hungry to not let this one slip away. Should there be a rematch, they will earn a spot in the Final Four and should be able to put South Carolina away after that.

Notre Dame is peaking at the right time after a dominant showing in the ACC tournament. Its offense is finally clicking, and as this season is senior guard Lindsay Allen’s final chance at a national title, the team is anxious to not let her down.

UConn’s win streak has to come to an end at some point, and Notre Dame is the team with the best chance to do that this season.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame defeats Connecticut in the title game.

Renee Griffin, Sports Writer

No one can question undefeated Connecticut’s dominance this year — or, frankly, any year in recent memory. On the other hand, Notre Dame’s dominance this season has been up for debate, at least by the program’s usual standards. Three losses, with one to an average ACC opponent and its second to a then-unranked Tennessee squad? This team is far from unbeatable.

And yet, something seemed different these past few games. The Irish have been living up to the sky-high expectations that before weighed them down. With their current momentum, and with a fired-up Lindsay Allen firmly at the helm in her senior sEason, Notre Dame will finally make it happen.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame defeats Connecticut in the title game.

Daniel O’Boyle, Sports Writer

For all the talk about how 2016-17 was going to be the beginning of something new in the sport, the tournament looks — at first glance at least — the same as it has every other year as of late.

Make no mistake, the bracket certainly looks deeper than usual — the No. 6 seed in Notre Dame’s region, North Carolina State, has already beaten the Irish and most of the other top dogs in the ACC this year. And if we’re talking about winning it all, UConn seems a little more beatable than the behemoth that marched through last year’s tournament unchallenged. But it still would be foolish to bet on any upsets here.

The Irish will make it out of Lexington because head coach Muffet McGraw won’t let last year’s mistakes happen again. I like their chances over whoever comes out of Stockton, but to win a title, they likely need someone to upset the Huskies.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame loses to Connecticut in the title game.

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