Two of the most storied programs and coaches in NCAA Women’s Basketball history will battle Friday night. Stanford’s head coach Tara VanDerveer has the most wins in Women’s Division 1 all time, with 1,157. Her opponent, Geno Auriemma, is just nine wins behind her with 1,148 wins. Auriemma does have VanDerveer beat in terms of National Championships; he has 11 to her 3. 

As great as the coaches are, this game is about the players; there are rivalries here. South Carolina and Louisville play before them, so both teams will know who their opponent is on Sunday. No disrespect whatsoever to Louisville, but I’m sure both teams would like another shot at South Carolina. 

Stanford and South Carolina would be a rematch of the Final Four matchup last year. They also played this year, where they gave up a big lead in the second half, and South Carolina walked away with the win. A lot of people took issue with Stanford’s All-American and Final Four MOP doing a TikTok dance on the SC logo before the game. A tiebreaker is needed. 

UConn has something to say about that, though. UConn got the better of them last season in Storrs, they were the favorites last year to meet in the National Championship. They both lost in the Final Four so that never came to fruition. They were scheduled to play twice this year. Once in the Bahamas, and then a second in Columbia. Only the game in the Bahamas happened; South Carolina locked down UConn in the fourth quarter and went home with the win. When it got close to the second matchup, both Dawn Staley and Auriemma realized the game wasn’t necessary due to the injuries UConn was dealing with at the time. 

This game has a lot of pieces that make this a really interesting matchup. Will it be a fitness or physical game? Will Cameron Brink and Olivia Nelson-Ododa stay out of foul trouble? Can Paige Bueckers be heroic yet again in her home state? Will Haley Jones be the queen of the Final Four again? Will we get another Fran Belibi dunk? How will the Dorka Juhasz injury affect UConn in terms of frontcourt depth? 

There is as much star power in this game as you’ll see anywhere in college basketball between Bueckers, Jones, Azzi Fudd, Christyn Williams, Lexie Hull, Belibi, and Brink. However, this game will likely come down to the supporting cast. Hannah Jump has been huge for Stanford in multiple games this season. Aaliyah Edwards has improved her play as the season has gone on for UConn. 

Anna Wilson defensively on Bueckers or Fudd? Nika Mühl and her defense on the perimeter players of Stanford in her minutes? The teams seem about equal in terms of talent, but we’ve seen this Stanford team do the job. The same can’t be said about UConn. They have to prove this new narrative wrong. Will they? 

My prediction: My heart says UConn, my head says, Stanford. I think the game comes down to the final seconds, and someone puts their name with the greats.