UConn improves to perfect 34-0


UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- The theoretical -- and highly probable -- has become the actual: There will be two undefeated teams entering the women's NCAA tournament.

Connecticut won the American Athletic Conference tournament title with a 72-52 victory over Louisville on Monday, and the Huskies will start the defense of their national championship with a 34-0 record. On Sunday night in Greensboro, N.C., Notre Dame won the ACC title over Duke, and it will go into NCAA play at 32-0.

I got the chance to see both games in person. How good are the Huskies and Fighting Irish? Whew -- incredibly good. Which team is better? Well, that's what the Big Dance is for, right?

"I gotta say it: I've enjoyed watching them play this year," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said of former Big East foe Notre Dame. "I watched them play the other night, and they seem like they are playing with a little chip on their shoulder. They've got an incredibly high energy level. And there may not be two better players in the country on the same team than Kayla McBride and Jewell Loyd."

Of course, as good as UConn sophomore Breanna Stewart is -- she had 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists Monday, and was named tournament MVP -- one could say there might not be two better players on the same team than Stewart and any other Huskies starter.

The bottom line is, UConn and Notre Dame -- who have met in the national semifinals the past three years -- might be on a collision course for a winner-take-all epic in Nashville in April. But ...

"There's an awful lot that has to happen between now and then," Auriemma said. "[And] for everybody that wants that game to happen, there's just as many people that go, 'Enough already; there's other good teams besides Connecticut and Notre Dame."

True, and Louisville is one of them. But there's zero debate that UConn and Notre Dame have separated themselves as the best of the best so far in 2014. And the big-picture narrative for this year's NCAA tournament is whether those two both can navigate through five more games to have another chance to face each other.

But before we get to that, we have to wait a week to see what the NCAA selection committee does in regard to setting up the bracket. The selection show is next Monday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET).

We already know what regions Notre Dame and Louisville will be in: their own. They'll have to win their early-round games on the road, but if they do, they'll go back to their home arenas for the Sweet 16/Elite Eight. Notre Dame, Louisville, Stanford and Nebraska are the hosts in this odd year that the NCAA opted to return to home sites for regionals.

Women's basketball really outgrew that format a decade ago. And next year, the tournament will return to neutral regional sites. But this season, the committee members are in the position of deciding whether they will follow their procedures and principles very strictly (the geographical S curve) or whether they will do what many people (including Auriemma and his Louisville counterpart, Jeff Walz) think makes more sense.

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