INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne takes a look at the games in the women's Final Four. Her Sun Devils played Syracuse, Washington and Oregon State this season:
Clearly everyone is picking UConn to run through this game, but it could be a good matchup with this being a battle of the ''Big Threes.'' Oregon State has Ruth Hamblin, Jamie Weisner and Sydney Wiese against UConn's trio of Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson.
While experience is definitely on UConn's side, which gives them a big edge, there is also pressure on them with the chase for a fourth title. The Huskies have won every game this year by double digits and rarely been tested with most games decided well before the fourth quarter, so who knows how they will do if the game is close late. Oregon State though has been tested many times this season, pulling out close victories.
The Beavers have five seniors on a team that's been working toward this for a number of years. Sure, they are new to the Final Four and might have some jitters early on, but they are a very experienced team.
Hamblin will be a big key on both ends of the floor for them to be successful. She doesn't leave the paint much on defense, and it's a big question who she would guard if UConn plays with five players outside the key.
If Tuck gets going like she did in the last two rounds, the Beavers are going to have trouble defending outside. Offensively, Hamblin loves going to the low left block. Who does UConn have that can challenge her down there? She is a true 6-foot-6 and doesn't bring the ball down low, so it's difficult to double team her.
Weisner and Wiese can definitely score, but they will need to figure a way to do it against a very good defensive team that has always found a way to shut down the opponent's best player.
Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that you'd see a seven-seed and a four-seed make the Final Four? Just goes to show that the game is growing.
These two met earlier in the season and it was a tale of two halves. Syracuse built a big lead early on with its pressure defense, and then Washington, once it got comfortable against the press, battled back. The Huskies just ran out of time.
Watching the film of that game may help both coaches with tendencies, but it was so early in the season that both teams have matured since then. They are both on such a roll right now, shooting the ball so well.
Neither team has Final Four experience, so both may be nervous early on. But since it's the same for Syracuse and Washington, it evens out. Each is playing with a ton of confidence right now.
The key may be who can stay hot offensively.
It took a half for Washington to solve Syracuse's pressure the first time they met, and the Huskies don't really turn the ball over often, only 8.5 times a game in the tournament. Still, they aren't very deep, and if Syracuse can control the tempo and wear Washington down, it would help them. That's how we were successful this season, being able to tire Washington out.
Washington's been carried by its own big three of Kelsey Plum, Talia Walton and Chantel Osahor. Since Syracuse is a zone team, it's harder to key on players and the Huskies trio should still get their looks.
If Syracuse can force turnovers and create a fast-paced game that could be trouble for Washington.