Saluting top seniors in Nashville

Weakness: The 6-3 forward was the consummate leader even in the moments right after injuring her knee and said all the right things even in the immediate aftermath. Well, almost all the right things. She might need a refresher course in the finer points of the family viewing hour.

With her adrenaline racing -- and in her attempts to keep her teammates fired up and focused after her injury -- Achonwa got back on her feet and fired off a word or two not exactly fit for the PG-13 demographic.

Career highlights: The disappointment of the knee injury is only magnified by the reality that Achonwa was playing the best basketball of her career in the NCAA tournament. Her 25 points against Arizona State in the round of 32 was one point shy of a career high. The 19 points and 15 rebounds she produced against Baylor in the Elite Eight was the best performance in a big game she had ever had in an Irish uniform.

What's at stake: While Achonwa will not be on the floor in Nashville, a Notre Dame championship would belong to her as much as anyone else in the Irish family. With four trips to the game's ultimate stage, Achonwa's legacy is already cemented. Being part of an undefeated national champion (albeit a hobbled one at this point) as the Irish's unquestioned leader, she should be remembered among the first few names in Notre Dame lore.

Kayla McBride, Notre Dame

Strengths: The 5-11 guard is a shooter -- an exceptional shooter and also a versatile one, a skill that has made her the perfect fit in Muffet McGraw's offensive scheme. McBride has made 47.4 percent of her field goal attempts in her four years and 50 percent of her 3-point attempts in three NCAA tournaments. Never afraid to take a big shot or have the ball in critical moments, McBride is the ideal player for spotlights like the Final Four.

Weakness: This might sound strange for someone who plays basketball at her level and spends much of her time sprinting around screens, but McBride hates to run. She puts aside her disdain for movement, of course, because it's the only way to be fit for the kind of basketball player she is. But if it hadn't been for hoops, McBride might never have put one foot in front of the other.

Career highlights: Nothing tops playing in a Final Four each of your collegiate seasons, but emerging from the shadow of Skylar Diggins to earn first-team All-America honors is the validation whip cream on the ice cream sundae that is McBride's career. Her big-game abilities were also confirmed with a 23-point performance against UConn in the Big East tournament final, propelling McBride to the Most Outstanding Player trophy as a sophomore. Two of the three biggest scoring games of her career came this season in back-to-backs against Duke and North Carolina, the games that solidified that the ACC belonged to the Irish even in their first season in the conference.

What's at stake: Without fellow senior Achonwa on the floor with her, it might not feel quite the same in the early moments Sunday night against Maryland. But if McBride and Jewell Loyd can deliver for two more games, this Notre Dame team will go down as one of the all-time greats.

Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford

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