And that just makes the stakes in tonight’s NCAA championship a little higher.
Anything short of a women’s national title would be deemed a failure for Brittney Griner and her Lady Bears.
That might explain why Baylor hasn’t focused on an undefeated season, nor on becoming the first team to win 40 games. Baylor just wants the title.
Standing in the way is Notre Dame, a team on a mission ever since losing in last year’s championship to Texas A&M and sparked by maybe the nation’s second-most dynamic player, All-American Skylar Diggins.
The tournament’s top seed against No. 2. Just the way the selection committee drew it up.
“40-0 was never really the goal,” said Griner at a news conference Monday. “We don’t have that ring yet. That’s the main goal. Until we get that, we’re going to feel like we haven’t really done anything.”
The Irish (35-3) know the feeling, having fallen just short last season to Texas A&M. Soon after Diggins and her Notre Dame teammates arrived back in South Bend after the championship last year, the junior guard went to the locker room. She put up on the chalkboard in the locker room, “Unfinished Business: 76-70, 15:52,” the time referring to the game’s turning point.
“We’ve had one goal all season long,” Diggins said. “We’ve wanted to get back here and play in this game.”