ESPN Analysts Offer Insight on 2015 NCAA Women’s Final Four Matchups

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ESPN Analysts Offer Insight on 2015 NCAA Women’s Final Four Matchups

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Doris Burke, Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo – top analysts on ESPN’s season-long women’s basketball coverage – offered thoughts and analysis on the 2015 NCAA Women’s Final Four matchups.

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Presented by Capital One has reached its final weekend – the Women’s Final Four in Tampa Bay, Fla. – on Sunday, April 5, and Tuesday, April 7. ESPN and WatchESPN will offer full studio and game coverage throughout the weekend, starting with the National Semifinals on Sunday: No. 1 seed South Carolina vs. No. 1 seed Notre Dame at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by No. 1 seed Connecticut vs. No. 1 Maryland at 8:30 p.m. The National Championship game will air Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., with the NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital One beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Thoughts on No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 1 UConn

“Dayton’s first half gave some indications as to what it would require to beat UConn – teams have to make shots, particularly, hitting threes. UConn’s length and shot blocking ability makes it difficult at the rim, but making shots forces the Huskies to take it out of the net and helps limit their transition opportunities. Opposing teams must take away extended runs in transition from UConn, mainly, the back-breaking threes in transition.”

Top Players to Watch
“Maryland sophomore Lexi Brown is a dynamic guard with big-game capability. She has been a bit inconsistent in NCAA games and can’t afford a scoreless half vs. UConn. Classmate Brionna Jones is a physically dominant post but the question is will the game be played at a pace that will allow her to establish a low post presence?”

“UConn sophomore Morgan Tuck has been the most consistent player all season with her versatility on both ends being crucial to the Huskies success. It must be March, because junior Breanna Stewart is dominating. In her first run through a tournament, where past players on the team did not provide leadership, Stewie has been shown leadership and played magnificently. In a Dayton game where for 20 minutes UConn was under real game pressure, her level of play, intensity, play making and defense made all the difference.”

Keys to No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 1 South Carolina
“Notre Dame’s high powered, Final Four experienced offense will be put to the test by a deep, physically tough South Carolina defense. Sophomore Lindsey Allen has emerged for ND as a legitimate scoring threat from the point guard position and she will be looking opposite junior Khadijah Sessions, who is the point of attack on SC’s defense. Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson, two of the Gamecock’s best players, come off the bench to provide a dynamic interior tandem. Coates is the big physical strong framed presence; Wilson is athletic in the post with great feel and scoring ability who knows how to play off Coates.”

Top Players to Watch
“Notre Dame junior Jewell Loyd, named espnW’s Player of the Year, is a highly-athletic, highly-skilled basketball player. She can score in transition, in the mid-range and to a lesser extent from distance. Thus far in the NCAA, she has not been as effective as we are accustomed to seeing; that has to change for the Irish to win a title.

South Carolina junior Tiffany Mitchell, a two-time SEC Player of the Year, excels in the minutes that matter most. Like Loyd, Mitchell makes the game appear effortless, she can drive it, shoot from range with efficiency and has delivered in every late game situation SC has needed her.”

Thoughts on No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 1 UConn

“The matchup dilemma, not just for the Maryland Terrapins, but for the entire country all year has been UConn’s Breanna Stewart. How do you matchup with her? Can Maryland find a way to keep her at bay and not let her go off on the offensive side of the floor? I also like the point guard matchup in this game when you have Maryland’s Lexie Brown, who has made clutch-play after clutch-play, and UConn’s Moriah Jefferson, who has emerged as an elite two-way player.

When you look at this game, I think it comes down to can Maryland score enough points? UConn is so prolific on the offensive end; the Terps are going to have to play their best offensive game of the season.”

Top Players to Watch
UConn’s Breanna Stewart & Maryland’s Laurin Mincy


Thoughts on the No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 1 South Carolina matchup
“Notre Dame is going to have to figure out how to handle the size of and depth of South Carolina’s post players. Sophomore Alaina Coates has been outstanding off the bench the entire NCAA tournament with her length and size, and senior Aleighsa Welch is the heart and soul of the team. On the other side, the Gamecocks have to limit the guard attack of the Irish. Junior Jewell Loyd can be unstoppable offensively, sophomore Lindsay Allen has proven that she can be a big time scorer and sharpshooter Michaela Mabrey can make the defense extend on the perimeter. The defensive game plans by both Dawn Staley and Muffet McGraw will be interesting to see.”

Top Players to Watch
South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson & Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd & Brianna Turner








Rachel Margolis Siegal

A part of the Internal Communications team at ESPN, I began with the network in 2010 as part of the College Sports PR team. Always an avid sports fan and not an athlete – I grew up a huge fan of the Hartford Whalers, while also watching my brother compete at different levels. I became the manager of several high school sports teams and continued that hobby into college. While at Quinnipiac, I worked in the Sports Information Department, which led me to a summer internship at the New Haven Ravens, a AA baseball team, and an eventual job with the Athletic Communications Department at the University of Connecticut. After my five-year stint at Connecticut, I spent six years as Director of Communications at the BIG EAST Conference in Providence, R.I. before joining ESPN.
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