Can Louisville beat UConn?

Is UConn invincible? Through 38 games this season they have been. Now, Louisville hopes to find a way to do something no team has been able to do this season – beat Connecticut.

UConn has taken the court 38 times this season. All 38 times they've emerged victorious. Not only do the Huskies own an unblemished 38-0 record, they've destroyed the competition all season.

No team has really challenged Geno Auriemma's top-ranked Huskies this season. In fact, UConn has won every game by double-digits, the closest calls – 10 point wins over Notre Dame and Rutgers.

UConn had no problems against this year's Final Four participants, either. The Huskies beat Louisville twice, 93-65 and 75-36. They knocked off Oklahoma 106-78 in November and sent Stanford packing Sunday night with a convincing 83-64 victory in the national semifinals.

Now the Huskies are looking to cap an undefeated season with the school's sixth national championship. Only Louisville stands in UConn's way. Can the Cardinals find a way to beat UConn for the first time in three attempts this season? It would be a major upset if they did.


Can Louisville slay undefeated UConn?

"Being undefeated is a big deal to everybody else," Auriemma said. "It becomes a big deal to you if you finish the regular season and then the tournament undefeated and look back and go, ‘whoa, that was unbelievable.'

"If tomorrow we're more worried about being undefeated than winning one game, I don't know that that's going to be the winning edge for us."

In the team's first meeting in Storrs, Louisville had the right game-plan against UConn. With 4:59 left in the first half of that contest, Louisville led 32-31. But UConn went on a 15-0 run to close out the half and never looked back.

"We have a great opportunity here in front of us," said Auriemma. "We're playing a team that obviously has an awful lot going for them right now. All I can say is we've done 38 times what I hope we can do one more time."

UConn's players don't seem to be taking Louisville for granted even though they had no trouble besting the Cardinals in the two previous meetings between the schools this season.

"I don't think they're looking at it as they're any less than us," Kalana Green said. "At this point in the tournament everyone's 5-0. And they're looking to get a win just like we are."

"The game has to be played and all talk stops," Maya Moore added. "Like Kalana said, when the ball is thrown up you have to go out and play, and at the end of the game hopefully our reality will be where we want it to be."

Though Louisville played UConn tight for a half in the first meeting, the Cardinals never had a chance in the second meeting - a 39-point blowout in the Big East title game. The Huskies jumped out to a 25-7 lead 10 minutes into the game and never relented, building as much as a 42-point second half lead.

Clearly, Louisville bounced back from that loss, downing a pair of No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed to advance to the championship game against the Huskies.

"I just think that it's hard beating a team three times in a year," Tiffany Hayes said. "They're going to come out hard. Like you said, it's a national championship game, so they're definitely going to come with something different than what they've been coming with the last couple of games. And we just got to go out and play UConn basketball."

Obviously, Auriemma wouldn't trade teams with Louisville coach Jeff Walz. But the experienced UConn coach also knows his team's two earlier wins over the Cardinals won't guarantee a win in the championship game Tuesday night in St. Louis.

"What we did to them the first game, I don't know that it had any effect on the second game. What we did to them in the second game, I don't know that it has any effect on today," said Auriemma. "Different environment. Different day. Different attitudes among the players. Different emotions going through.

"There's no disputing the fact that we won by a lot both times. But I don't know what that gets you. You still have to go out tomorrow and make shots and stop them. If we don't make shots and we don't stop them, we're going to lose. Just like they beat Maryland, just like they beat Oklahoma. So obviously they're really, really good. We have to be really good. And if we are, we'll be fine."


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