That rumbling you heard Sunday night was the sound of thousands of jaws hitting the floor as Stanford beat the University of Connecticut 82-73 in the Women’s Final Four. (If you were in the vicinity of a UConn fan, you likely heard much more, but we can’t print that kind of thing here.)
Unlike many playoff games in which the outcome can be blamed on poor officiating or injuries or just a bad night for the losing team, this game was a simple case of the better team winning. More precisely, the team with Candice Wiggins. Every time UConn stepped up its game, the ball went to Stanford’s Wiggins — and she finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds. She certainly was not alone in outstanding play, but, as I said a few weeks ago, Wiggins is a wonder to behold.
That game was followed by two hours of alternate scowling and breath-holding as Tennessee and LSU went at it. The game was a defensive battle — and the lowest-scoring game in Final Four history at 47-46. It wasn’t pretty, to say the least. I am a Lady Vols fan through and through, but even I was sad to see the look of disbelief from the LSU bench as Alexis Hornbuckle put the ball in the basket with less than a second left, giving Tennessee the one-point win.
Tonight (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) is the National Championship that most of us expected to be the Tennessee vs. UConn game that we didn’t get to see this season. And many of the experts predict that the surprise finalist, Stanford, will win. Two notable exceptions are scout.com publisher, Clay Kallam, and ESPN.com columnist Mechelle Voepel, who picked Tennessee. The game has been dubbed “Ace vs. Ice,” thanks to the nicknames that stars Candace Parker and Candice Wiggins have for each other based on the spelling of their first names.
Parker, who won the Naismith Trophy this year, is dealing with a sore shoulder that puts her game as less than 100 percent. How healthy she is may determine the game’s outcome. (And, yes, Stanford beat Tennessee earlier this season with a healthy Parker.) Check out Kallam’s article for a player-by-player analysis.
Personally, I’m sticking with the Lady Vols for the championship. But whatever happens, we can count on two hours of great basketball. What do you think? Who’s going to cut down the net tonight?