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NCAAW Elite Eight Preview (Day 2): Can Iowa and Stanford replicate yesterday’s two-seed sweep?

Oregon and UConn await the winners of tonight’s games for next weekend’s Final Four in Tampa. With another slate of one-versus-two matchups on deck, what kind of Final Four will emerge?

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Chicago Regional-Stanford vs Missouri State
Alanna Smith was the hero in Stanford’s 2017 Elite Eight win over Notre Dame. Can she and the Cardinal repeat that effort in tonight’s rematch?
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

After yesterday’s slugfests saw the two-seeds advance to the Final Four, today’s Elite Eight matches will carry the same weight — but with a little different execution.

Iowa has assumed its role as the tournament’s latest underdog following Missouri State’s exit in the Sweet Sixteen. In just their second trip to the Elite Eight, with their third-ever No. 2 seed, the Hawkeyes are by far the least experienced team left. With No. 1 overall seed Baylor next on their agenda, it’s widely accepted that the Hawkeyes will need to put together the game of their lives to defeat the Lady Bears.

Stanford, on the other hand, has been in this position before — pretty much exactly, in fact. The Cardinal earned their latest Final Four berth in 2017, as a two-seed, by defeating one-seed Notre Dame, their opponent tonight. They’ve made five Final Fours since 2010, and to them, a No. 2 seed isn’t an obstacle to their success — they’ve done just fine with it before. And while both No. 1 seeds are favored in tonight’s games, it’d be unwise not to consider yesterday’s results one more time.

With four conference champions facing off tonight in the ultimate all-star melee, there’s more than enough talent to go around.

NCAAW Tournament — Elite Eight (Day 2)

No. 1 Baylor Lady Bears vs. No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes

When: Monday, April 1, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC

How to watch: ESPN2

Keys to the matchup: Iowa is back in the regional final for the first time since 1993, the year the Hawkeyes made their one and only Final Four. But if history is to repeat itself, they’ll have to get past the No. 1 overall seed Baylor Lady Bears, who decisively beat Iowa’s in-state foe Iowa State three times this season. The prevailing narrative in this matchup: How will Iowa’s Megan Gustafson and Hannah Stewart fare against Baylor’s one-two punch of Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox? The Lady Bears have been a challenge for everyone they’ve faced, save their sole loss of the season against Stanford back in December. But barring another cold-shooting performance like that from Baylor, Iowa will need every tool in its arsenal to defeat the best team in the country. (Not that the Hawkeyes have a problem with that.)

No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. No. 2 Stanford Cardinal

When: Monday, April 1, at 9 p.m. ET

Where: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL

How to watch: ESPN2

Keys to the matchup: With so much overlap among the nation’s top teams this season in non-conference play, it’s a wonder that this particular matchup hasn’t happened yet. But when it happened in 2017’s Elite Eight, it was Alanna Smith’s comeback-completing layup that sealed the win for the Cardinal. In fact, Stanford has a pretty good track record against the Irish, winning three of their four NCAA Tournament meetings. But to compete tonight, the Cardinal will need to have recovered from their tough shooting game against Missouri State, where they shot 25 percent from the floor and 10.3 percent from three. Notre Dame, on the other hand, emerged victorious from a high-scoring game with Texas A&M to advance to the Elite Eight. At the end of the day, both teams are battle-tested at this stage in the tournament, and both are on 12-game winning streaks. For those reasons, this game should stay close.

NCAAW Tournament game information

Elite Eight

When: Sunday, March 31; Monday, April 1 (click for times)

Where: Albany, NY; Chicago, IL; Greensboro, NC; Portland, OR

How to watch: ESPN, ESPN2, WatchESPN

Final Four

When: Friday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL

How to watch: ESPN2, WatchESPN

National Championship

When: Sunday, April 7, at 6 p.m. ET

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL

How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN

More ways to watch the games

Want to watch in person? Elite Eight and Final Four tickets can be found on the websites of the hosting arenas, or here.