Path ahead for UConn, Notre Dame

Baylor and Kentucky played in one of the highlight-reel games of this season back in December, when the Wildcats prevailed 133-130 in four overtimes. Baylor was Big 12 co-champion with West Virginia and then beat the Mountaineers in the league tournament title game. Kentucky had ups and downs this season but came on strong to reach the SEC title game, where it fell to Tennessee.

National semifinal challenges

If seeds hold, UConn would face South Carolina in Nashville, while Notre Dame would meet Tennessee. Once again, it would appear to be an easier road for the Huskies. That is not to disparage the Gamecocks, who won the SEC regular-season title, but South Carolina has never been to a women's Final Four, while UConn has played in 14.

Speaking of Final Four experience, no one has more than Tennessee's 18 times appearances, but they have not reached that round since 2008. If seeds hold, they will face Notre Dame in Nashville and be, of course, the home-state favorite. Tennessee, the SEC tournament champion, comes into NCAA play having won seven straight and 13 of its past 14 games.

For many years, the Lady Vols had Notre Dame's number; Tennessee won the teams' first 20 meetings. But Notre Dame has won the past four, including a 86-70 win Jan. 20 in Knoxville. The Irish did struggle in the first half of that game and trailed 46-41 at the break before taking over in the second half.

If Notre Dame faces UConn ...

It will be the first NCAA women's championship game between undefeated opponents and the fourth straight season the Huskies and Irish meet in the Final Four. UConn leads the overall series 30-11, but Notre Dame has won seven of the past nine against the Huskies, including two national semifinal wins in 2011 and 2012. However, UConn turned the tables and beat Notre Dame in last year's national semis before defeating Louisville for the championship.

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