Women’s Final Four Presented by Capital One on ESPN – Extensive, Multiplatform Coverage from Dallas

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Women’s Final Four Presented by Capital One on ESPN – Extensive, Multiplatform Coverage from Dallas

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ESPN Front Row

  • 15th Consecutive Year Televising All 63 games
  • Kara Lawson to Serve as Women’s Final Four Game Analyst for First Time
  • Nell Fortner Joins Studio Coverage

Game Coverage (American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas)
Friday, March 31
Semifinal #1: No. 2 seed Stanford vs. No. 1 seed South Carolina (7:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Semifinal #2: No. 2 seed Mississippi State vs. No. 1 seed UConn (9:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Sunday, April 2
National Championship Game (6 p.m., ESPN)


  • Features, vignettes and segments on each Final Four team, including UConn keeping their record-breaking streak alive, a unique look at the psychology of Geno Auriemma, Vic Schaefer coaching his daughter Blair, and a shootaround with South Carolina’s Kaela Davis and her father Antonio Davis, who is a former NBA player and current analyst for ESPN
  • Creative elements will feature the song “Higher” by Ruelle, highlighting the drive of the programs to reach new heights, ultimately attempting to win the National Championship. Graphical elements and use of bold colors will complement the words from the players & coaches themselves to tell the stories of the tournament
  • ‘Meet the Players’ elements will bring the Handclap Hoopla to the Final Four, filming with each team singing & dancing to the song. Each player will introduce themselves and share one unique thing about their life
  • Pregame locker room access, in-game head coach and halftime player interviews, as well as on-set studio interviews with special guests
  • Potential guests on set include Final Four coaches on game day
  • Sister, Sister: Stanford’s Karlie Samuelson and UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson both make their way to the Women’s Final Four
  • Data Center: new to this year’s coverage, this ESPN3 offering will allow fans to watch games with statistics, analytics and social media commentary
  • Winner of the HandClap Hoopla Challenge will be revealed
  • Interact on Twitter via @espnW@ESPN_WomenHoop and #WFinalFour for the final weekend
  • As an extension of ESPN’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship marketing campaign, and in partnership with VisitDallas and the NCAA, a custom “BIG” sign will be staged in Victory Plaza of the American Airlines Center for the Women’s Final Four. VisitDallas, a non-for-profit organization, has an interactive campaign around the city where tourists and residents pose as the “I” in an actual “BIG” letter structure. ESPN wanted to leverage this iconic and recognizable campaign to connect fans to the NCAA Women’s Tournament. This interactive display will serve as a prime photo opportunity and extend the ESPN “Big Dreams in Big D” creative campaign by bringing it to fans in a “BIG” way

ESPN Technology

  • The use of 25 cameras to cover the games, with the ability to have 14 different positions, plus four cameras focused on the in-arena studio set
  • Technologies used during the Final Four telecasts
    • Above the Rim and Below the Rim camera systems on each backboard for four additional looks, as well as seven Marshall POV cameras to capture courtside and backstage elements
  • The ART system (telestrator device) will be incorporated within the telecasts for the sixth consecutive year
  • Two Avid Symphony Nitris DX Mac systems onsite to support pre-production pieces for the games and studio
  • Two Sony 4300 Super Slow-Motion Cameras that will allow for enhanced game action and replay coverage of the game action.

SportsCenter will provide coverage of the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Dallas with on-site set presence from Maria Taylor, Bob Holtzman, Doris Burke and others.

Final Four Commentators

  • Kara Lawson joins Dave O’Brien (play-by-play), Doris Burke (analyst) and Holly Rowe (reporter) as a game analyst for the semifinals and championship game
  • Maria Taylor, Andy Landers and Rebecca Lobo make their Women’s Final Four studio debut as a team, providing coverage throughout the weekend
  • Nell Fortner will also contribute to studio coverage
  • SportsCenter reporter Bob Holtzmann will provide team coverage from practice and games


Dave O’Brien: O’Brien joined ESPN in 2002 and serves as a play-by-play commentator for MLB and college basketball. This is will be his seventh Women’s Final Four.

Doris Burke: Burke began covering basketball for ESPN in 1991. She is currently an analyst on men’s and women’s college and NBA games and a sideline reporter for select telecasts. Burke was a basketball player at Providence College and was named a NCAA 2012 Silver Anniversary Award recipient.

Kara Lawson: Lawson joined ESPN in 2004 as a women’s college basketball analyst while playing point guard for in the WNBA. She serves as a game and studio analyst, play-by-play commentator and sideline reporter while covering men’s and women’s college basketball as well as the NBA. This will be her first Final Four as a game analyst after previously working as a studio analyst for 11 years.

Holly Rowe: Rowe began working ESPN telecasts in 1995, and joined the network on a regular-basis in 1998. She primarily covers college football, men’s and women’s basketball, softball and gymnastics as a reporter, as well as the NBA and WNBA. Rowe has also provided play-by-play commentary for women’s college basketball, gymnastics, softball and volleyball. She will be honored as a co-recipient of the 2017 USBWA Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award in Dallas.


Maria Taylor: Maria Taylor is in her third season as a college analyst and reporter having joined the SEC Network in 2014. In 2016, Taylor joined analysts Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears and Paul Finebaum as host of the network’s traveling pregame show SEC Nation, as well as host of Big Monday and NCAA Women’s Final Four studio coverage. She also serves as a sideline reporter for men’s basketball. In addition to her hosting duties, she is an analyst on other SEC and ESPN telecasts, including volleyball, and women’s basketball.

Andy Landers: Landers joined SEC Network as a women’s basketball analyst in 2015. Landers brought a wealth of knowledge to the SEC Network after a successful career coaching the Georgia Lady Bulldogs for 36 years. In 2016, he joined ESPN’s studio coverage of women’s college basketball, working alongside Lobo and Taylor. He also coached Taylor at Georgia.

Rebecca Lobo: Lobo joined ESPN in 2004 as a women’s college basketball and WNBA game and studio analyst. She won an NCAA Championship in 1995 with the University of Connecticut where she was a National Player of the Year and an All-American. In addition, Lobo won a gold medal with the 1996 U.S. Women’s Basketball Olympic Team during the Atlanta Olympics and played in the WNBA for seven seasons.

Nell Fortner: Fortner returned to ESPN in 2012 as a women’s college basketball analyst after serving as the Auburn head coach for eight seasons. She served as an ESPN studio analyst from 2001-04.


Bob Holtzman: Holtzman joined ESPN in 2000 as a reporter, primarily handling stories featured in the network’s award-winning news and information franchises – SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown, Outside the Lines, Baseball Tonight, NBA shows and others. Holtzman graduated from the University of Kansas.

espnW in Dallas
espnW.com will continue to highlight stories surrounding the Final Four with certain aspects integrated into the game telecasts.

  • In-depth and on-site coverage, including features and video analysis from Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel
  • From pre-game to tip-off and beyond the confetti, espnW social channels will capture the sights and sounds of the Women’s Final Four and championship game with behind-the-scenes Instagram photos, tweets, and Facebook posts
  • espnW’s Facebook page will stream live discussions from Dallas throughout the Final Four
  • Exclusive announcement Saturday of the Nancy Lieberman Award winner

ESPN Digital

  • All games and studio shows will be available on WatchESPN, accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.
  • ‘ESPN3 Surround’ – an alternative viewing experience with different camera angles and natural audio sound from inside the arena returns for the semifinals and final, as well as ESPN3 coverage of the trophy presentation on Sunday
  • Women’s Final Four Data Center – this ESPN3 offering allows fans to watch the game alongside graphics that include statistics, analytics and social media commentary
  • ESPN3 will also have coverage of the Women’s Final Four pre-game (day before) and postgame (immediately following all three games) press conferences
  • Postgame celebration, including net cutting presented by Werner Ladder and trophy presentation will also be available on ESPN3

ESPN.com’s Women’s Tournament Challenge
Several statistics highlight ESPN.com’s Women’s Tournament Challenge and the teams that advanced to the Final Four

  • Even with two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2 seeds advancing to the Final Four, only 1.6 percent of Women’s Tournament Challenge entries correctly predicted the Final Four.
  • UConn was once again the most popular pick in every round, advancing to the Final Four in 83.6 percent of entries, and winning it all in 65.5 percent.
  • Percent of brackets picking the national champion:
    • UConn: 65.5 percent; South Carolina: 5.3 percent; Stanford: 1.8 percent; Mississippi State: 1.1 percent
  • Percent of brackets picking each team to reach the national title game:
    • UConn: 75.4 percent; South Carolina: 24.1 percent; Stanford: 10.1 percent; Mississippi State: 2.4 percent

Women’s Final Four Specials
NCAA Women’s Final Four Special Presented by Capital OneThe 30-minute preview show hosted by Taylor with analysts Landers and Lobo, from American Airlines Center in Dallas, will precede the National Semifinals Friday, March 31, at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

College Basketball Live: Women’s National Championship SpecialThe one-hour special, hosted by Matt Schick with analyst Brooke Weisbrod, on Sunday, April 2, at 4 p.m. on ESPNU will highlight and preview the Women’s National Championship title game.

NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital OneESPN will tip off the National Championship game coverage with an hour-long preview special, also hosted by Taylor, with Landers and Lobo, from inside the arena on Sunday, at 5 p.m.

ESPN International
ESPN International television and streaming networks will offer live coverage in Australia, Brazil, the Caribbean, Spanish-speaking Central and South America and New Zealand, as well as ESPN on BT Sport in the UK and Ireland, Kwesé Sport channels in Africa, TSN and RDS in Canada.

NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Schedule (subject to change)

Date Time (ET) Matchup/Commentators Network
Fri, Mar 31 7 p.m. NCAA Women’s Final Four Special Presented by Capital One
Maria Taylor, Rebecca Lobo, Andy Landers
7:30 p.m. Semifinal #1 (Dallas)
Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke, Kara Lawson, Holly Rowe
9:30 p.m. Semifinal #2 (Dallas)
Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke, Kara Lawson, Holly Rowe
Sun, Apr 2 4 p.m. College Basketball Live: NCAA Women’s Championship Preview
Matt Schick, Brooke Weisbrod
  5 p.m. NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital One
Maria Taylor, Rebecca Lobo, Andy Landers
6 p.m. National Championship Game (Dallas)
Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke, Kara Lawson, Holly Rowe



Anna Negron

It was always a dream of mine to work at ESPN, and here I am! I joined the College Sports PR team in March 2016. Hailing from the great Garden State, I graduated from Seton Hall University (Go Pirates!) with a degree in sport management, where I not only sang the National Anthem at games, but was also a member of the Seton Hall Sapphires Dance Team and a student reporter for Pirate Sports Network. Before joining ESPN, I served as a Public Relations Associate for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
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