Repeat after me 20 Times….Sweet 16 - Let that sink in for a minute, each of the last 20 years, The UConn Women have gotten this far in the NCAA Tournament. And in 18 of those 20 years, they’ve moved on to the next round and beyond.
This time around, it’s a star studded Sweet 16 in Bridgeport where there isn’t a ticket to be had. Which should make for a great atmosphere at the Webster Bank Arena. Game one pits the #2 seed Kentucky against the #6 seed Delaware. The Wildcats lost in Kingston to the Huskies last March in the Elite 8 and trying to show they’re ready to get over the top. A’dia Mathies is playing well but it’s not just about her. DeNesha Stallworth adds stability and depth up front. Bria Goss was a factor last March..then there is Samarie Walker, their best rebounder. I don’t really need to say more about her do I ..The Fightin’ Blue Hens are making their first trip to the Sweet 16. And of course are led by Elena Delle Donne. 26ppg, a 49 % shooter and don’t let her get to the line at 92%. As a complete a 6-5 player as the Women’s Game has ever seen. But what her teammates did to help her in the win over a young North Carolina is very impressive. Trumae Lucas was great off the bench, Kayla Miller steady at the point as the Blue Hens venture into uncharted territory.
Then there is a rematch of a December 3rd game between UConn and Maryland. The Huskies won that game 63-48. The Terps were beginning to adjust to life without Lauren Mincy, who was the third Maryland player to go down with an ACL injury. What Alyssa Thomas, Tianna Hawkins and the other 4 of their 6 player rotation have done is commendable to get to the Sweet 16.Chloe Pavlech, a freshman point guard has improved greatly since that December game and will have to be really good from this point on if Maryland is to beat the Huskies. UConn only had Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis in the first half of that December Game . We know what she means to the Huskies and how she’s shown that she’s as much a threat inside and as she is outside this past weekend. She can’t disappear even for a short stretch offensively in the remaining games UConn has to play. and Brianna Banks, who had 11 points off the bench in the game is of course out with her own ACL injury. As much as UConn has dominated the ACC in the last 5 years, Maryland is easily the most physical ACC team the Huskies have played. And will Thomas go 2 for 12 with 8 turnovers again ??
Speaking of turnovers, if UConn plays their pace and takes care of the ball, they’ll be celebrating a 6th straight trip to the Final Four come Monday Night. They’ll have to beat two quality opponents to get to New Orleans. My brain says UConn-Kentucky again, but imagine the story line if Delaware is the opponent ? Fun is….See you on the radio this weekend ! :