Editor's Note - Some changes made, as well as some added links. And fronted. Good stuff.
I think there's no denying that UConn is the best team in the field right now. They're the unanimous #1 pick in pretty much every poll around and aside from the exciting Baylor game, they've won every game by gaudy margins. However, it's been a point of discussion recently about whether UConn's games should be televised at the expense of other ranked matchups. One side argues that we should try to show off the very best that women's basketball has to offer, while the other argues that competitive teams are more fun to watch than games where one side's superb defensive execution just smothers the opponent.
However, Notre Dame seems to give us the best of both worlds. As one of the nation's leaders in both points scored and field goal percentage, Notre Dame's offensive execution seems to surpass even UConn's. Thus far Notre Dame is undefeated but many of their games have lacked the crushing sense of inevitability that characterizes most of UConn's wins.
Take their blowout win against Tennessee, the final score of 86-70 wasn't that close, but the game wasn't drama free until late in the second half, and it also produced what could be one of the best executed halves offensively this year during that first half.
Last night's win against Maryland just confirmed what I had previously suspected. Notre Dame is just a really fun team to watch (unless they're playing against you of course). Despite being one of the top tier programs for the last few years, it still seems that they've got this sort of underdog mentality about them because they've come up short for the national championship so many times recently. Add that they're one of the few teams that's not afraid to go toe to toe and beat UConn and you've got a team that's hard to root against as a neutral fan.
Of course we have to take Skylar Diggins' affect on the program into account here as well. Diggins was easily the most visible player last year to the casual fan. While her intangibles don't really translate as well to the WNBA, they made her and Notre Dame dominant in the college game. Which combined with her media savvy, made her extremely popular even to those who didn't pay much attention to the sport before. Her confidence and swagger seems to have transitioned over to this team, and they're playing great team basketball. They are unselfish and smart which has lead them to average over 22 assists per game this year.
So between their team play, underdog mentality, and flawless offensive execution, while UConn may be the best team in Women's College Basketball, Notre Dame is the better team for the growth and recognition of the sport.