Candice Wiggins makes her women’s Final Four predictions.
by Candice Wiggins | @candicewiggins
“It’s either my life or your life and I ain’t leavin, I like breathin” —Dr Dre. A great mindset to have in the one-and-done NCAA tournament.
This is what I always dreamed about, and now it’s here.
March Madness has turned into April, and I’m on the way to Indianapolis for the Women’s Final Four. This time it’s extremely special, however, as there are two teams that I’m cheering for: Stanford of course, and Notre Dame.
Stanford is in it’s fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four, which is a run that has been so dope to watch over the years while I’ve been playing overseas. I’m hype that I can finally go to the Final Four in person this year, as this feels like a year where Tara VanDerveer and my girls can win it all! My first and only trip to the Final Four with Stanford was in 2008 in Tampa Bay, FL, and that was my senior year. Now this 2011 senior class is leading the charge for Stanford in the quest for their first National Championship, something Stanford has been in contention for but hasn’t been able to do since 1992. I’m so proud of the whole team, especially all the seniors that I was fortunate to play with: Melanie Murphy, Jeanette Pohlen, Kayla Pedersen, Ashley Cimino and Hannah Donaghe. One thing that’s new for this year’s Stanford team is the most dynamic duo in NCAA basketball: the Ogwumike sisters, Nneka and Chiney. Watching them is something every Stanford fan can appreciate. I like to call them the Venus and Serena Williams of basketball. Holla!! Seeing (them play together) is believing!
As for Notre Dame, I couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishment as a team making it to the Final Four. I’ve been talking to Skylar Diggins—my little soul sister and the starting point guard/leader for the fighting Irish—for a little over a year now about this moment and I can’t even explain how proud I am of how hard she worked to get her team where they are now. The Notre Dame team is awesome! I only got to watch them in person once when they played in South Bend against UConn for the first time. It was such a close game, that it came down to the last shot, and ended in a loss. It’s dope that in the National Semifinal, they get a shot at redemption against a truly historic UConn team.
My (Biased) Predictions:
Stanford vs. Texas A&M
Major respect is due to Texas A&M for persevering in their season and defeating an extremely good Baylor team in the Elite Eight. It says a lot about their team, losing to Baylor three times during the regular season, yet not letting those previous losses dictate how they played in the Regional Final. I watched their team play with so much heart, and their guard play is incredible, as well as their inside game. Stanford is going to have their hands full with them, but one thing that I believe to be Stanford’s advantage is the coaching of Tara VanDerveer. Only a player who has had the luxury of playing for Tara can comprehend how a “VanDerveer scout” can prepare you for the task at hand. And it is in these final games where it all comes down to preparation and execution. I predict an all-out battle (think about what’s at stake), but I have a feeling that Stanford is going to bounce Texas A&M out of the Final Four. The way Stanford is playing at this point in the season is phenomenal! They’re focused and you can tell that everyone on the team is rallying behind their seniors, which is the Stanford way.
Notre Dame vs. UConn
After seeing Baylor lose to Texas A&M after beating them three previous times in the season, I can’t help but expect a huge battle between Notre Dame and UConn. And I’m excited to watch that! Watching Maya Moore throughout her senior year, you get such an appreciation for her game and her dominance, and it’s synonymous with UConn’s success. I tuned in to her Regional Final game just so I could watch her score her 3,000th point and witness her 150th win. She’s incredible, and hungrier than ever. We all are witnesses to her greatness.
I have to say though, it is so great to watch a game of #redemption. When it comes to this point in the season, the past is erased, and the Final Four stage becomes an even playing field. I think it was that “second chance” mentality that allowed for my own 2008 Stanford team to beat UConn in Tampa, even though they destroyed us earlier in the year in the Virgin Islands. It isn’t about what has happened, or what should happen….only about what is happening. No team has showed better that they are what is happening more than Notre Dame, and by entering the final showdown in April, they couldn’t have better timing! Major shout out to their team and of course to the now WBCA All-American Skylar Diggins. It’s going to be a great game, and just like the game I watched in person earlier in the year, it’s going to come down to execution.
Winner: Notre Dame
The question I’m getting asked a lot now is if Stanford and Notre Dame are in the finals, who do I root for? I think that answer is painfully obvious, but I will say these very cliché phrases: One game at a time, and may the best team win!
#thewatcher I’m watching…I hope you are too!