In the midst of all the college hoops hysteria here in Kentucky there’s an interesting story brewing in Denver.
It’s not getting a ton of attention around here because, first, it’s women’s basketball, and second, there are no local/state teams involved.
But a women’s basketball team from Texas is poised to make history tonight – Baylor, with a victory over Notre Dame in the NCAA national championship game, would finish the season 40-0.
There have been undefeated national champions before but no team – men’s or women’s – has ever gone 40-0.
Baylor’s catch phrase this season has been “unfinished business,” referring to the Lady Bears’ loss last year in the Elite Eight to eventual national champion Texas A&M.
This season they’ve played like a team on a mission. Only four of their regular-season victories were by fewer than 10 points.
Baylor rolled through the Big 12 Tournament, winning three games by a total of 68 points. Texas Tech, which played the Lady Bears within 10 points twice in the regular season, fell to Baylor 72-48 in the first round of the conference tournament.
The NCAA Tournament has been much the same, with the closest game being the 12-point victory over Stanford in the Final Four Sunday night.
The Lady Bears are led by junior post player Brittney Griner, known by even the most casual of women’s basketball fans.
Griner, 6-8, was recently named the Player of the Year by The Associated Press. She’s made a name for herself recently by dunking twice in the NCAA Tournament, but her game is so much more than that.
She averages 23.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and just over five blocked shots a game, and much like Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, just her presence in the game affects the way other teams play.
No one wants to go inside if Griner is there.
The Lady Bears are more than a one-player team, however. There’s sophomore guard Odyssey Sims, averaging 14.7 points and 4.3 assists per game, and junior forward Destiny Williams at 10.1 points and 9.2 rebounds a contest.
On Sunday, the star of the game was senior Terran Condrey, who came off the bench to score 13 points.
Standing in the way of the perfection is another team with some unfinished business – Notre Dame (35-3).
The Irish knocked off Connecticut in overtime Sunday in the Final Four, the third time in four games they’ve beaten UConn this season.
Last season Notre Dame reached the national championship game, losing 76-70 to Texas A&M.
The Irish are loaded with experience – one-and-dones aren’t part of the women’s game.
Brittany Mallory and Devereaux Peters, both starters for Notre Dame, are graduate students.
Natalie Novosel, another starter, is a senior with a local connection – she’s a graduate of Lexington Catholic. She’s averaging 15.4 points for the Irish while hitting a team-leading 42 percent on 3-pointers.
But the motor that keeps the Irish running is junior point guard Skylar Diggins, an All-American who averages 16.8 points and 5.7 assists per game.
Baylor and Notre Dame tip it up at 8:30 tonight on ESPN.
Not only is there a good game to keep your interest, but there are a couple of perks that make the viewing experience easier to take than the men’s counterpart.
One is there are fewer commercials, and the commercials don’t last as long.
An even bigger advantage is there are only two announcers (not counting sideline reporters) for the women’s games and just three people at halftime discussing what we’ve just seen.
I’ve been using my mute button much less frequently during the women’s tournament than I have during the men’s games.
Sometimes just watching the game is enough.