This Friday, April 2, the No. 1 UConn women’s basketball team will face off against the No. 3 Arizona Wildcats with a chance to clinch a berth in the finals for the first time since 2016.
The Huskies enter Friday’s Final Four matchup with a 1-0 lifetime record against the Wildcats, which came in 1998, so there’s not much of a rivalry there. Instead, these teams will be forging a new rivalry as they square off with championship aspirations on the line. Arizona is a quality team who have held all four of their previous tournament opponents to below 60 points. Head coach Geno Auriemma said, “I could think of a lot of other teams I’d rather be playing [Friday] night, trust me on that.”
UConn guard Paige Bueckers was named the Associated Press Player of the Year, becoming the 9th different player in UConn history and the first college freshman ever to take home the award. She is averaging 22.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals per-game through her first four tournament games. Head coach Geno Auriemma said, “It’s a result of Paige’s individual excellence, what’s done and what she’s done for our team and getting us here to the Final Four, and how dominant she’s been in the biggest games we’ve played.”
Arizona boasts perhaps UConn’s greatest individual challenge yet in senior guard Aari McDonald, who averaged 19.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.7 steals-per-game in 21 regular season games. She has scored over 30 points in back-to-back games entering Friday’s contest. “Our staff feels like this is probably the most dominant guard that we will have played against this year. No question,” Auriemma said.
UConn’s defense may receive a boost on Friday though as freshman guard Nika Muhl has resumed basketball activities after missing three straight games with an ankle injury. She will be a game-time decision that could prove to be UConn’s X factor if she plays.
The game will begin at 9:30 p.m. EST.