Anything less would be a disappointment for the undefeated top-seeded Lady Bears, who are looking to become the seventh school to run through a season unbeaten.
Standing in the way could be the other No. 1 seeds – Stanford, Connecticut and Notre Dame, dominant all season long. The Huskies and Irish both lost competitive games at Baylor this season.
Griner and Baylor, who lost in the regional final last season, could be the first team ever to win 40 games in a year, but coach Kim Mulkey only cares about one thing: a second national title for the school.
“We started hearing about that, and it’s never been a goal of ours,” Mulkey said of 40 wins.
The basketball madness starts Saturday – the first step en route to the Final Four, which begins April 1 in Denver.
To get to their second Final Four in three seasons, the Lady Bears might have to get through Tennessee, which is appearing in its 31st consecutive NCAA Tournament.
“I wish I was not in the same bracket as Pat (Summitt), because of the respect I have and also because we’ve already played,” Mulkey said.
The teams met in November, and Tennessee held an eight-point lead early in the second half before Griner took over en route to a nine-point win.
Connecticut is going for its eighth national title and will start with a matchup against Prairie View.
The Irish, who open at home against Liberty, fell just short of a national title last season, losing in the championship game to Texas A&M, which is a No. 3 seed in the Raleigh region. The two could meet in the regional final.
The Cardinal have advanced four consecutive seasons to the Final Four, and coach Tara VanDerveer is looking to get her first title in 20 years.