For the second time this season, Notre Dame will host a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match as the top-ranked team in the country: Louisville will travel to the Purcell Pavilion on Thursday (ESPN, 7 pm ET).
Did Our Lady learn from her defeat of 89-71 in favor of the no. 2 UConn on December 2nd? Will the two defeats of last season against Louisville fuel the Irish?
"If that motivates them, I totally agree," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw about her players. "It's an important match with the conference, and if they come with a chip on their shoulder, I'm fine."
During the regular season last year, the Cardinals beat the Irish in Louisville 100 to 67 on Jan. 11.
"That night was so magical, I do not think it's happening again," said Louisville guard Arica Carter. "We just need to be prepared and focused, I hope nobody in our team expects the game to go like this again, it will be a tough game, a difficult game."
Arike Ogunbowale and Notre Dame, once again top of the 25 best of the week, will play their second 1-2 draw this season as they host second place, Louisville, Thursday (ESPN, 7 pm ET) . Swing Update Photo / David Richard
This was the case during their second meeting last season, a close battle in the final of the ACC tournament on March 4, as the Cardinals won 74-72.
The teams could have ended up in the national championship game, but Louisville fell to Mississippi State in overtime in the national semifinal, while Notre Dame beat UConn in overtime.
Then Notre Dame won her second NCAA title. So while this 33-point loss to Louisville could have been the low point of last season, the Irish finished in the final.
"If we can be defeated at 30 and have a chance to win a national championship like Notre Dame did, I'll know it," joked Louisville coach Jeff Walz. "It's a game, you can not be too high or too low.
"Our ultimate goal is to be able to win a national championship in April and finish first."
That said, Walz is aware of the impact of a win over the Irish on an NCAA tournament, stating, "It's a huge RPI game." In addition, if Louisville could beat Notre Dame and then Georgia Tech on Sunday, the Cardinals would be ranked first for the first time in their history.
Baylor's surprise against UConn keeps the race to seed n ° 1 more open than the last seasons. Up to seven teams compete for the first row.
Just after the loss to the Huskies last week, the Lady Bears join UConn, Louisville and Notre Dame on the top line. The Ducks fall in a seed # 2.
Gonzaga remains No. 1 and UAB moves to No. 2, but Ohio, Central Michigan, Buffalo and Toledo give the poll all the flavor of Mid-American.
This will be Louisville's first appearance in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match. This is the first 1-2 game of UConn-free women's basketball since Baylor's win over Stanford in the 2012 semifinal. is the first 1-2 game between teams from the same conference since Duke vs. North Carolina in 2007.
At that time, the Irish and Cardinals were still in the Big East with the Huskies, and the Blue Devils and Tar Heels were the best in the ACC. At present, the CCA electrical base is no longer close to the Atlantic coast; This changed dramatically when Notre Dame entered the league in the 2013-14 season. The Irish have won four consecutive titles at the ACC. Louisville, who entered ACC in 2014-15, won the title last season.
Notre Dame and Louisville still play non-conference games with the former boss of Big East UConn; The Cardinals will host the Huskies on January 31st. However, the rivalry between Notre Dame and Louisville has added spice, not only because they are still in the same league, but also because of their relative proximity: the schools last about four and a half hours. separate – and that they do not like a lot.
This became particularly evident last season, when Walz used the post-game handshake after the ACC final to emit hisses against McGraw. He was annoyed by the fact that she had not used the name of Asia Durr, the Louisville Guard, when she had suggested to her own player, Arike Ogunbowale, to win the title of player of the year of ACC instead of "the other player".
There seems to be water under the bridge now; none of the coaches mentioned it in their pre-game remarks on Wednesday. But Seniors Ogunbowale (22.1 points per game) and Durr (20.9 PPG) are 1-2 in the goals of ACC this season, and this is probably not a problem forgotten between programs.
Senior guard Arica Carter averaged 10.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists to defeat Louisville (14-0). Swing Update Photo / Ben McKeown
One can expect jokes for Walz from the crowd of Notre Dame – not that he or the spirit of the Cardinals.
"These games are the reason to be players," Carter said. "It 's so much fun to go to someone else' s house while they make you boo and the crowd yells at you."
Walz was in agreement.
"It's good to know that you are going into an environment where you know that the public will be sold out," he said. "We have to go and do our job and play well."
The Irish have a lead of 14-6 and have been hard at home against everyone for a long time. The last team other than UConn to win Notre Dame was Baylor in December 2012.
The Irish are known for their attack, and this has been very good for most this season. McGraw likes the way they share the ball. Unlike other Irish teams, Notre Dame does not rely as much on the 3-pointer this season. According to Her Hoop Stats, the Irish get only 13% of their points in the long run, making it third in Division I.
But with players like Jessica Shepard (15.4 PPG) and Brianna Turner (12.9 PPG), and guards capable of penetrating like Ogunbowale and Jackie Young (15.3 PPG), we understand why Notre Dame does not need to rely on 3 points. .
Louisville is also a strong offensive team, with Durr, Sam Fuehring (10.7 PPG), Dana Evans (10.6 PPG) and Carter (10.1 PPG) all posting a two-digit average.
The Cardinals know that this game will be first and foremost a test for their defense and rebound.
"It's a great team that is bouncing back, and we have not had a good rebound this year," said Carter. "We need to find a way out and rebound, we have to make them take big volumes and make everything difficult for them."