Teams: Syracuse Orange (29-7) vs. Washington Huskies (26-10)
Day & Time: Sunday, April 3, 8:30 p.m. EST
Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.
Line: -2.5, Syracuse
Announcers: Beth Mowins, Doris Burke, Holly Rowe
Radio: Syracuse IMG Sports Network
Washington Blog: UW Dawg Pound
Rivalry: 1-0, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, Orange. Duh.
Last Only Time: Back in November, Syracuse outlasted the Huskies out in Las Vegas, 66-62. Brianna Butler scored 17 and the Orange barely escaped a late rally by Washington in a game no one could've known would be replayed in the Final Four. Both teams shot poorly but Kelsey Plum and Talia Walton were slight exceptions for UW. The two combined for 41 points on 14-of-34 shooting.
Curious Connections: This is the first Final Four appearance ever for both schools' women's programs.
Head Coaches: SU: Quentin Hillsman (10th Year, 218-112), UW: Mike Neighbors (3rd Year, 69-34)
Last Year: Washington's obviously-improved program grabbed a six-seed, but lost to a hot-shooting Miami squad in the first round. The Huskies, relying heavily on their perimeter shooting, fell when those some scorers ran out of gas toward the end of the contest. They were upset, 86-80.
This Year: The Huskies once again finished in the middle of the Pac-12 and got to the conference semifinals, but ended up with a 7-seed. After an expected win over 10-seed Penn in the first round, UW has outplayed its seed in each matchup since. The hot-shooting team has upset Maryland, Kentucky and conference foe Stanford en route to a surprising Final Four bid.
Last Game: The two teams had split the season series prior to the NCAAs, with the Cardinal winning the regular season matchup, while UW beat Stanford in the Pac-12 tourney. In the Elite 8, however, Washington jumped out to a big 15-point first quarter lead and never looked back. Stanford chipped away, but it wasn't enough to beat Kelsey Plum and the Huskies. UW won 85-76 while shooting 49-percent from the floor (and 42 percent from three).
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": Washington trots out a three-headed scoring monster that other teams in the tournament have failed to contain thus far. Kelsey Plum is the most dangerous option, putting up 26.2 points per game. Talia Walton's a 42-percent shooter who scores 16 per game. The toughest assignment will be Chantel Oshahor. The tall forward/center hits 48 percent of all shots and 36 percent of threes. She's a difficult matchup both on the perimeter and in the paint.
If Syracuse Wins: It's expected, but then they'll almost definitely have to face UConn. That could hurt.
If Syracuse Loses: It'll be a disappointing end to a thrilling season that saw the team exceed expectations and finally break through for a program-changing Final Four bid. Still, job well done.