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Predicting the NCAA run

| Friday, March 19, 2010


Notre Dame loses to Stanford in semifinals

When asked if she could have drawn a better bracket for her team, Irish coach Muffet McGraw said, “I would’ve put us in a bracket with all 15- and 16- seeds.”

That means no.

While the team will not look past its opening-round opponents, the two home games should be a breeze.

This year’s Irish have two things they didn’t have when they were shocked in the 2009 first round: An increased focus drawn from that early exit, and Skylar Diggins.

Combine those with a bracket whose other top teams are No.3-seed Oklahoma, which the Irish have beat, and No. 1-seed Nebraska, the best possible draw for the Irish, and the road to San Antonio looks pretty clear.



Notre Dame loses to Stanford in semifinals

Notre Dame’s fast-paced offense and aggressive style on defense will be too much too handle for its early-round opponents.  Beginning with a statement win over Cleveland State, the Irish break in Purcell Pavilion’s postseason debut in style. Freshman phenom Skylar Diggins will give the home fans what they want to see, as she should have no trouble tearing up opposing defenses. Don’t be surprised if she averages over 20 points a game.

The highlight of the NCAA tournament comes in the Sweet 16, when the Irish beat Nebraska in a matchup of the top two seeds in the region. Nothing the Cornhuskers have seen in the Big 12 will prepare them for McGraw’s four-guard offense.

The Irish run ends in the Final Four. Notre Dame lacks depth in the post. An almost certain meeting with Stanford should exploit that weakness.



Notre Dame loses to Connecticut in championship game

The Irish’s depth will help them easily roll past their early opponents, Cleveland State and likely Wisconsin, but once they meet a team that can match their bench things will get a lot more difficult. It all comes down to how well freshman Sklylar Diggins can play in her first ever NCAA tournament. If she turns it on and consistently produces 20 points a game the Irish could challenge to reach the championship game, where juggernaut Connecticut will await for a fourth time. If she cannot, it will be an early exit for Notre Dame.

I see a Skylar Diggins ready to take that next step and begin to build her legend. Expect Notre Dame to gain early momentum at home and carry that all the way to the championship game, topping Big 12 sweetheart Nebraska and powerful Stanford along the way.

The championship game is another story.