The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (22-10), has the misfortune of facing the buzzsaw that is the UConn Huskies (33-0) in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Monday, March 20. You may recall we last faced UConn in the National Championship last April. Syracuse lost that game, 82-51.
Before things tip off in Storrs, Conn., we wanted to chat with our “friends” at the UConn Blog about the game and other related items. Check out our Q&A with Daniel Connolly below, and we’ll include a link to our responses over there once they’re live.
Obviously it's been several years since UConn's lost a game, but there have been some close calls here and there. How have a select few teams managed to hang close with the Huskies during the winning streak?
The closest calls have actually all come this season, as they've only three games during the streak have been single-digit wins. The recipe for this team is to get the forwards Napheesa Collier and Gabby Williams into foul trouble because UConn only plays seven deep. Next, you need to protect the ball well. This team loves to get turnovers and then throw the ball all the way up the court to Kia Nurse for the layup.
Keep them out of transition. You also need to hit your shots on offense and hope they have a bad night shooting. That's a lot of luck, but that's what's happened in the close calls.
Finally, Syracuse can't play UConn scared. Even the 16-seed Albany at least played the Huskies tough on Saturday even if they eventually got destroyed. Just come out and play your game.
The score didn't show it in last year's title game, but Syracuse put up a fight for a bit. That's not a question. More just a comment.
I would agree. The Orange just ran into the ultimate buzzsaw, unfortunately. I believe that's the greatest college basketball team you'll ever see and any team would've lost but definitely credit to them for battling. I enjoyed the Final Four last year because it wasn't the typical powerhouses, it was a bunch of up-and-coming programs. I expect Syracuse to get back there in the near future.
Syracuse spent most of the season in the polls and had a profile more indicative of a 5- or 6-seed. Would you rather face someone else in round two? Or does it not matter much anymore?
As someone covering the team, I always want to see the most exciting game and I think this one should be fun. At least there's some history here unlike Iowa State (Or Duquesne last year). As for the fans, I don't think anyone really thinks they have a chance at losing until at least the Elite Eight so it doesn't matter much to them.
Obviously we hate each other. But not as much in women's hoops, right?
I don't see why we should. It's not like we had any great Big East battles back in the day or anything outside of last year's title game. But who knows? Maybe this is the start of a nice little northeast women's basketball rivalry and we can up the hatred in the next couple of years.
Wichita State: Discuss.
I don't really feel a charge either way on this. It's good to get another big game on the schedule because the conference season can drag. But it also feels like a panic move. This conference absolutely needs basketball help though. Outside of UConn and Louisville, the American has three tournament wins in its four years since they changed the name: Two from Cincinnati, one from Memphis. The Shockers will be a boost there, but if there's a future without Marshall, I'm a little more concerned. Maybe they're bringing them in because UConn's about to bolt to a Power 5 conference. I can dream, right?
Which team left in the tournament field scares you the most?
Maryland. Without a doubt. They played UConn extremely tough back in December and gave the Huskies their toughest game of the season. There were times down the stretch of that game I really felt like the Terps were going to win. The Huskies took a couple big leads, one in the third quarter even, and Maryland kept fighting back. I've been saying their the biggest threat ever since that game, so I'm really hoping they meet to decide who goes to the Final Four in Bridgeport.
I'm sure you think UConn wins this game. What's your score prediction?
You would be correct. If Syracuse hits their threes they can keep it close for most of the game. Still think UConn comes away with a pretty comfortable win. I won't guess a score but I think they'll win by 23.
Thanks again to Daniel for taking the time on these. Be sure to follow @TheUConnBlog for everything on the Huskies’ women’s basketball team.