We were all hoping for a competitive game, hoping that Notre Dame had the experience to avoid falling victim to the shock of staring at the letters "UCONN" on their opponents' jerseys, hoping that the Irish would be as hungry for an undefeated season as the Huskies.
By the midway point in the second half, UConn had rendered all such hope absurd as they made Notre Dame look like yet another completely overmatched opponent en route to a 79-58 rout for their ninth championship.
Similar to what happened to Maryland against Notre Dame in the Final Four, Notre Dame sustained an early blow that they never recovered truly from: nine minutes into the game, Notre Dame was facing a 22-8 deficit and displaying the body language of demoralization.
What doesn't appear in the video above is the question asked of Notre Dame senior Kayla McBride (which you can see here in the video of the full presser): "Would Natalie (Achonwa) have made somewhat of a difference [inside] tonight, do you think?"
McBride said she didn't think anything could've changed the fact that they were simply undermatched and she didn't think anything could've changed that, highlighting poor help defense; Michaela Mabrey noted that they didn't get a body on UConn players; coach Muffet McGraw said she told Geno Auriemma thought they were playing the Miami Heat. Those aren't problems fixed by one player even if the glaring problem on the stat sheet was UConn's dominant 54-31 rebounding margin - Notre Dame simply looked like a team that was unsure if they were up to the challenge within the first few possessions of the game.
In the end, the analysis for this game was about as simple as Notre Dame's win over Maryland was: yes, rebounding was a problem but as we said about the Terrapins (among the nation's best rebounding teams) the Irish just seemed to wilt under the pressure of the moment for whatever reason.
Although we were robbed of the game we wanted to see - the game that some of us convinced ourselves we would see - UConn didn't leave a whole lot of room for uncertainty about who the best team in the nation was this season.
For more on the national championship game, check out our 2014 Final Four storystream.