The NCAA Women’s Championship game is a storybook rematch

Connecticut (UConn) takes on Notre Dame in the NCAA Women’s Championship game tonight for the second straight year. 

In last year’s matchup, UConn blasted the Fighting Irish en route to a 79-58 win. The Huskies are a record, 9-0 in championship games, and are 37-1 on the season, while the Fighting Irish are 36-2. This game will not be the storybook tale of the “undefeateds” from last year, but still proves to be an excellent matchup.

Actually, the entire tournament has been great this year, busting one of the most pervasive myths about the differences between the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments. People love to say that UConn winning takes away all the fun, and that without parity, the women’s tournament will never match the men’s. I am an unabashed UConn fan, but in this instance, the discourse is not really about UConn. What is really being discussed is the worthiness of women’s athletics.

ESPN, the television host of the NCAA Women’s Championship, does not show President Obama filling out the full bracket for the women’s tournament, instead opting just for the Sweet 16 onward. And when President Obama does complete that bracket, the first rounds are nearly empty of upsets, the opposite of what has become the hallmark card of the men’s tournament. Parity is an excellent storyline, especially coming in the form of upsets in a tournament driven by spectacle and speculation.

Dominance and revenge, however, can also make for excellent storylines. This championship matchup is rife with disdain, and makes for some of the best sports television in years. UConn has played Notre Dame in each of the last five final fours. Coaches Geno Auriemma (UConn) and Muffet McGraw (Notre Dame) have gone on record talking about the lack of civility in their relationship. UConn ran Notre Dame off the floor last year. This game should be just as anticipated as the men’s championship.

But it is not.

The prevailing thought is that UConn’s dominance creates an atmosphere of apathy about women’s basketball. The idea that the dominance of one team negatively impacts the fun of watching a sport is ludicrous — and also distinctly reserved for women. The UCLA men’s basketball team won seven consecutive titles from 1967 to 1973, under the tutelage of legendary coach John Wooden. Wooden is widely revered as a pioneering coach, evidenced by the Wooden award, which goes to an outstanding men’s and women’s athlete. There was no argument that Kentucky’s potential undefeated season ruined the NCAA tournament. In fact, Kentucky compelled people to care, to take a position. Dominance is ok, as long as it is within men’s sports.

This championship game will be entertaining, the storylines compelling. I’m excited to witness either the sustained greatness of a program like UConn’s or the upset of the year by the only team in the nation capable of pulling it off.

Header Image Credit: WNDU


Katie Barnes (they/them/their) is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer. While at St. Olaf College studying History and (oddly) Russian (among other things), Katie fell in love with politics, and doing the hard work in the hard places. A retired fanfiction writer, Katie now actually enjoys writing with their name attached. Katie actually loves cornfields, and thinks there is nothing better than a summer night's drive through the Indiana countryside. They love basketball and are a huge fan of the UConn women's team. When not fighting the good fight, you can usually find Katie watching sports, writing, or reading a good book.

Katie Barnes is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer.

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