New (well, old) conference, same dominance. With a 28-1 record and the AP Player of the Year in tow, the UConn Huskies have reached their 13th consecutive Final Four and will walk into the Alamodome as the odds on favorite to capture their 12th national championship and first since 2016.
Here’s how they got here...
After several years of dominating the AAC, Geno Auriemmma and his program returned to the Big East this season and laid down the hammer. They captured both the regular season and conference titles while only allowing one league opponent to get to within 10 points of them all season long.
Sprinkled in the middle of their undefeated run through Big East play were a few non-conference tests to prepare them for March. The Huskies picked up tight victories over both Tennessee and fellow Final Four participant South Carolina and suffered their lone loss of the campaign in a 90-87 nail-biter at Arkansas on January 28.
As a one-seed in the River Walk region, the Huskies made light work out of High Point, Syracuse, and Iowa through the first three rounds. They then had a down-to-the-wire 69-67 comeback victory over two-seeded Baylor in the Elite Eight. The Bears had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds before a controversial no-foul call on DiJonai Carrington’s shot attempt allowed the Huskies to advance to the Final Four.
The Huskies were anchored all season by dominant guard Paige Bueckers, who on Wednesday became the first freshman ever to be named AP Women’s Basketball Player of the Year. The freshman phenom out of Edina, MN, averaged 20.1 points on 52.8 percent shooting, 5.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa earned Co-Big East Player of the Year honors by supplementing her 12.1 points a game with 7.9 rebounds and just under two blocks per contest. Aaliyah Edwards and Christyn Williams rounded out the cast as fellow All-Big East players averaging double-digits on the year.