The BYU Cougars (27-6) are your darling Cinderella's at this year's big dance. While the rest of the nation sat back and were surprised by their 72-57 dismantling over fifth-seeded North Carolina State Wolfpack, the Cougars knew they could do it all along.
The Cougars were led by 6-7 senior center Jennifer Hamson, the WCC Defensive Player of the Year, who nearly notched a triple-double with 12 points, 19 rebounds and nine blocked shots in the win over the Wolfpack. Hamson is averaging 18.1 points, 11.4 and a nation-leading 4.2 blocks per game.
It helped show validity in the West Coast Conference that had been for many years, just a Gonzaga conference.
With BYU's 72-57 win over NC State, they'll get the opportunity to take on the Big 10 Conference's champion, the Nebraska Cornhuskers (26-6).
"We felt very fortunate yesterday to play one of our normal games." BYU Head coach Jeff Judkins said Sunday. "I think sometimes, NCAA, you don’t play as well sometimes, and we played like we did all year. I’m really proud of these young ladies and what they’ve accomplished this year."
The Cornhuskers are led by Big 10 Player of the Year, Jordan Hooper. She had her 14th double-double of the season in the 74-55 win over 13th-seeded Fresno State Bulldogs. She also tied a Nebraska school record with her 41st career double-double.
"I think if we just stick to our principles that we have stuck to all season long," BYU Guard Kylie Maeda said. "Keeping them in front of us, not getting beat, getting through screens, that sort of thing—we will be fine."
BYU has one Sweet 16 appearance, that was in 2002. The win over NC State was just the fourth NCAA Tournament victory in the school's history and first since 2006.
"Well, I think we’ll handle it like we handle any other game," said Hooper. "We’re not going to look at ranks and seeds and stuff like that. We’re just going to go out and play our game of basketball and not worry about anything else. BYU and honestly they’re a great team."
If the Cornhuskers can get passed the Cougars, they'll return home to the Pinnacle Bank Arena, home of the Huskers. So, there is a lot of determination for the Huskers to pull off this game, just not win a game.
Between the two teams, Nebraska has the slim 4-3 lead over BYU. They haven't played since 2001, where BYU blew a 15-point lead, falling 56-53. Nebraska owns the 2-1 lead when the games are played on a neutral court.
The 27 wins for BYU is a school record.
Game will tip off at 8:10 CST on ESPN's networks. Check your local listings or catch it on WATCHESPN.