On Tuesday evening at 7 PM, the University of Connecticut Huskies will unfurl their 22-0 record and No. 1 ranking at Fifth Third Arena. The game will be televised online on ESPN3. You had better watch or, even better, attend the game. The Cincinnati Bearcats’ women’s basketball team is going to make Geno Auriemma’s four-time defending national champions wish they hadn’t made the trip.
The combination of junior guard Ana Owens, senior guard Bianca Quisenberry and junior forward Shanice Johnson will make their Husky counterpoints look like rascals. Here’s why.
Cincinnati’s pluck, pugnacity and perseverance will guide them through this robust challenge.
UConn has a fine time. Finer than fine in fact. They defeat their opponents by unseemly margins on a nightly basis. And they can’t help it. They are that good. Most of their opponents don’t have a player on their roster who is good enough to make the UConn squad.
The Huskies are led by four players who are each arguably the best at their position in college basketball: 6’3” sophomore shooting guard Katie Lou Samuelson, 6’1” sophomore power forward Napheesa Collier, 6’0” junior point guard Kia Nurse and 5’11” junior small forward Gabby Williams. The long and lithe Samuelson is basically Jerry West incarnate. Collier is a smooth, versatile low-post player similar to UConn legend Rebecca Lobo. Nurse is a Stockton-esque facilitator who can drive like Sheryl Swoopes. Williams has never played a bad game. She is a steady presence on both ends of the floor who reminds me of Ohio State legend Katie Smith.
Never mind all of this. Cincinnati is a vastly improved team with a strong core of talent. UC coach Jamelle Elliott has built confidence and courage into this bunch. Plus, as a product of the UConn program, she knows all of their tricks and will not be fooled by Geno’s wizardry.
My prediction: Cincinnati: A Lot. UConn: Not much.