clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Championship Preview: Notre Dame will defend its NCAAW title against a formidable Baylor team

New, 1 comment

In Baylor’s first trip to the national title game since 2012, their opponent hasn’t changed, but the storylines have. Tip is at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Notre Dame vs Mississippi State
Can Arike Ogunbowale and Notre Dame pull off back-to-back national title wins?
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After a seven-year absence, the Baylor Lady Bears are back in the national championship game. Their opponent is a familiar one — the very same Notre Dame team they steamrolled to take the 2012 title and cap off an undefeated season.

Baylor may not have the likes of Brittney Griner anymore, but they do have WBCA All-American Kalani Brown, the only other Lady Bear since Griner to receive that honor three times. They’ve also got fellow All-American Lauren Cox, who alongside Brown forms one of the most dominant frontcourt duos in the game.

From top to bottom, Baylor looks like a team that’s compiled a 36-1 record heading into the final and most important game of the season.

But tonight, they’re facing the defending national champions.

Who does Notre Dame have leading them this season? Only four of the five starters from last season’s championship-winning team, anchored by leading scorer (and, lest we forget, all-around postseason hero) Arike Ogunbowale.

The Fighting Irish have felt different this season, to be sure — they’re no longer the squad that won it all in spite of playing with an injury-shortened bench. Instead, they’re a team that seems in an even better position than last season to take the championship.

But the Lady Bears have looked nothing if not totally dominant nearly all season long. And that “nearly” covers their December loss at Stanford — that’s about it. Until Friday’s game against Oregon, Baylor had won each of its NCAA Tournament games by at least 25 points, right on par with its NCAA second-best 26.7-point scoring margin.

That said, again ... Notre Dame hasn’t looked much different than that. The Fighting Irish come in at fourth in the nation in scoring margin, but lead the nation in points per game, setting up an offensive battle for the ages.

So, which will win out tonight: the all-around dominance of Baylor this season, or the wealth of high-profile experience that Notre Dame brings to the table? Will the Lady Bears storm right back to the top in their first trip back to the title game, or can the Fighting Irish hold them off and hoist the trophy for the second straight year?

Like a handful of the Elite Eight and Final Four matches that got us here, this is another battle between two elite teams that have yet to meet this season. And to get this matchup, on this stage, in so many of these players’ last seasons?

Well, if the Final Four competition was to your liking, you’re going to love this one, too.

Poll

Which team takes the title?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Baylor
    (13 votes)
  • 45%
    Notre Dame
    (11 votes)
24 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who wins the Most Outstanding Player award?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Kalani Brown (BU)
    (5 votes)
  • 27%
    Lauren Cox (BU)
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Chloe Jackson (BU)
    (0 votes)
  • 5%
    Juicy Landrum (BU)
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    DiDi Richards (BU)
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Marina Mabrey (UND)
    (0 votes)
  • 11%
    Arike Ogunbowale (UND)
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Jessica Shepard (UND)
    (0 votes)
  • 5%
    Brianna Turner (UND)
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    Jackie Young (UND)
    (2 votes)
18 votes total Vote Now

NCAAW National Championship

No. 1 Baylor Lady Bears vs. No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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? National championship tickets can be found here.