Women's Final Four Preview

Connecticut is vying to become the fourth women's team in NCAA history to finish undefeated, and seem unstoppable. Of course, Tennesee and then Duke or Oklahoma will have something to say about that during the Final Four in San Antonio. Check out how the nation's top four shape up in the battle for the national championship.



Connecticut Huskies
Record: 37 - 0. Seed: No. 1, Mideast. Coach: Geno Auriemma.


Road to the Final Four
1st Round: Connecticut 86, St. Francis (Pa) 37
2nd Round: Connecticut 86, Iowa 48
Sweet 16: Connecticut 82, Penn State 64
Elite Eight: Connecticut 85, Old Dominion 64

NATIONAL SEMIFINAL MATCHUP: Tennessee, Friday, 4:30 p.m., PT.

KEY PLAYERS: The Husky seniors - Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams - have one national championship, two Final Four appearances, four Big East championships, a 130-9 record and each have scored 1,000 points during their careers. Bird, the Naismith award winner as national player of the year, is rolling in the tournament, hitting Penn State and Old Dominion with 24 and 26 points, and tossed in 11 assists against ODU.

TEAM OUTLOOK: Statistically and stylistically, UConn is the best offensive and defensive team in the country, and are an uncommonly unselfish team, having set the NCAA record for assists in a season. The Huskies look to push the ball and have lethal inside-outside combinations to choose from in halfcourt settings. Their only potential liability is going only seven or eight deep, but depth usually is a problem in championship settings due to foul trouble.

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Tennessee Lady Vols
Record: 29 - 4. Seed: No. 2, Midwest. Coach: Pat Summit.


Road to the Final Four
1st Round: Tennessee 98, Georgia State 68
2nd Round: Tennessee 89, Notre Dame 50
Sweet 16: Tennessee 68, BYU 58
Elite Eight: Tennessee 68, Vanderbilt 63

NATIONAL SEMIFINAL MATCHUP: Connecticut, Friday, 4:30 p.m., PT.

KEY PLAYERS: Summit used 14 different lineups in a challenging season, but Kara Lawson was a constant. Lawson averaged 16 points and five rebounds, joining Tamika Catchings, Chamique Holdsclaw and Bridgette Gordon as the only Tennessee players to accomplish the feat. The Vols have plenty of inside punch, starting with 6-5 Michelle Snow and 6-5 Ashley Robinson.

TEAM OUTLOOK: After an uneven season, this has become a typical Summit team, one that deliberately looks to pound the ball inside, really gets after the boards, and plays great defense, especially in the interior. It is a team that goes deeper than most, but a lot of that depth is young. Lawson seems to be a given, but the Lady Vols need the kind of dominating performances from Gwen Jackson that she delivered against Georgia State and Vandy.

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Duke Blue Devils
Record: 31 - 3. Seed: No. 1, East. Coach: Gail Goestenkors.


Road to the Final Four
1st Round: Duke 95, Norfolk State 48
2nd Round: Duke 76, TCU 66
Sweet 16: Duke 62, Texas 46
Elite Eight: Duke 77, South Carolina 68

NATIONAL SEMIFINAL MATCHUP: Oklahoma, Friday, 6:30 p.m., PT.

KEY PLAYERS: Dubbed "the female Michael Jordan," Alana Beard doesn't put on the aerial show that MJ used to, but has a similarly all-around game. The sophomore has scored at least 20 points in six straight and averages about five assists, six rebounds and three steals. Another super soph, Iciss Tillis, is the leading rebounder but can also drill the three.

TEAM OUTLOOK: The Blue Devils usually start three sophomores, a junior and a freshman, so they're young. They also have only eight players on their entire roster. Still, Duke went unbeaten in the ACC and has been the most relentless and exciting team in the tournament, outside of Connecticut. They will pressure and look to score off turnovers, battle you inside, look to hoist the three (at least one in 145 straight games) or attack the rim. Instead of a liability, their youth so far has stamped them with a can-do attitude.

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Oklahoma Sooners
Record: 31 - 3. Seed: No. 1, West. Coach: Sherri Coale.


Road to the Final Four
1st Round: Oklahoma 84, Hartford 52
2nd Round: Oklahoma 66, Villanova 63
Sweet 16: Oklahoma 72, Texas Tech 62
Elite Eight: Oklahoma 94, Colorado 60

NATIONAL SEMIFINAL MATCHUP: Duke, Friday, 6:30 p.m., PT.

KEY PLAYERS: Stacey Dales, off the Canadian National Team, is one of the nation's premier point guards, averaging 16.7 points, five assists and five rebounds. LaNeishea Caufield is a perfect complement who averages five rebounds and nearly three steals. Caton Hill is the leading rebounder and a three-point threat, as is Rosalind Ross.

TEAM OUTLOOK: Dales and Caufield accounted for 45 percent of the Sooners' points during the regular season, but Hill has been the team's leading scorer in two tournament games already. The Sooners have great experience, starting four seniors, and are battle tested, having gone 14-3 against ranked teams this season and winning seven straight against Top 25 teams. What they don't have is size, but they overcome it with defense and great three-point threats.

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