women’s NCAA tournament

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Buzzer-beater pushes Notre Dame past UConn in women’s Final Four

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Each of the last two years UConn has entered the Women’s Final Four undefeated. And both teams the Huskies have lost due to late-game heroics by the opposition.

Friday night it was Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale who made the game’s biggest play, as her jumper with one second remaining gave the Fighting Irish the 91-89 overtime win in Columbus. Ogunbowale’s shot capped a 27-point night, and Jackie Young led the way for the winners with 32 points.

Next up for Notre Dame is Mississippi State, which beat Louisville 73-63 in overtime in Friday’s first semifinal matchup. Sunday’s title game will be a matchup of the last two programs to beat UConn, as Mississippi State beat the Huskies on a Morgan William jumper as time expired in last year’s national semifinals.

Undefeated UConn and Notre Dame highlight 2014 women’s NCAA Tournament

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The Bracket

While we’ve debated about the men’s edition of the NCAA Tournament for a little over 24 hours now, on Monday, attention turned to the women’s NCAA Tournament as defending champion UConn, Notre Dame, Tennessee and South Carolina were all given No. 1 seeds in this year’s event.

The women’s NCAA Tournament tips off March 22nd and 23rd with first-round action and finishes up with the Final Four in Nashville on April 6th, with the championship game occurring on April 8th.

Much has been made of Wichita State entering the men’s NCAA Tournament as the first unbeaten team since UNLV in 1991, but in the women’s tournament AAC champion UConn (34-0) and ACC champion Notre Dame (32-0) both enter the field unblemished on the season.

Entering the tournament unbeaten is more common in the women’s game — with Baylor last doing it in 2011-12 on its way to a 40-0 season and national championship — but it is only the second time that two teams have entered the women’s tournament undefeated.

The last time it happened was 1998 when Tennessee claimed the national title as the Lady Vols defeated the other unbeaten team, No. 16 seed Liberty, in the first round.

Speaking of the Lady Vols (27-5), they claimed a No. 1 seed after winning the SEC Tournament title and they’re joined as a one-seed by SEC regular-season champion South Carolina (27-4).

Many expected South Carolina to potentially fall from a No. 1 seed after the Gamecocks dropped two of their last three games, but No. 2 seed Stanford (29-3) fell in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals to USC, which helped South Carolina maintain its spot.

Other No. 2 seeds joining the Cardinal include Duke (27-6), West Virginia (29-4) and Baylor (29-4). Defending national runner-up Louisville (30-4) headlines the No. 3 seeds that also includes Texas A&M (24-8), Kentucky (24-8) and Penn State (22-7).

Among the interesting story lines surrounding the 2014 Women’s NCAA Tournament includes the return of schools hosting regional finals on their home floors. After nearly a decade at neutral sites for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, this season’s regionals will be played on campus at Nebraska, Louisville, Notre Dame and Stanford.

First and second-round games are commonly played on campus sites and this trend continues in 2014 as well.

The regionals returning to campus sites gives unbeaten No. 1 seed Notre Dame a homecourt advantage in regional play and it means No. 1 seed UConn could have what amounts to a road game in Lincoln at No. 4 seed Nebraska in the Sweet 16. No. 3 seed Louisville also could get a homecourt advantage over No. 1 seed Tennessee in the Elite 8 while the same thing could happen with No. 2 seed Stanford getting a home game against No. 1 seed South Carolina.

NCAA announces changes to women’s tournament scheduling for 2017

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After using the Friday-Sunday format for the women’s Final Four from 1996-2002, the NCAA made the move to a Sunday-Tuesday format in 2003. And after more than a decade of that format, the NCAA has decided to go back to the Friday-Sunday format beginning with the 2017 NCAA tournament.

With the combination of this move and the decision to start the women’s tournament a day earlier, on a Friday as opposed to Saturday, the NCAA hopes to boost attendance for the event. According to the Associated Press, last year’s event averaged just 5,466 fans for all rounds.

Obama lauds UConn women (again)

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How does one celebrate a team that hasn’t lost since April of 2008? You keep it simple.

President Obama did just that when the Connecticut women’s basketball team visited the White House on Monday, lauding them as the best team in all of sports.

Hey, when you’ve won two straight national titles and reeled off 78 straight wins – nearly all by double digits – you’ve earned that unofficial title.

“I was telling [the team that] Michelle and I work out in the morning — see, we got a little gym here in the White House — and we just watch ‘SportsCenter,'” Obama said. “I know you’ll be surprised that we don’t watch the news shows. But this is really true. You know, during the entire season, I just kept on repeating, and I truly believe, this was the best team in all of sports, any sport, any gender, by far.”

At this rate, the Huskies are a good bet to visit the White House for the third straight time next year (do they get a set of steak knives of something at that point) when they can hopefully compare shooting skills again.

Last year, Obama and UConn star Maya Moore played a game of P-I-G. This year, rain prevented it. Next year, maybe they’ll finally get in that game of H-O-R-S-E.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.