At this time last year, you might not have found Notre Dame and Connecticut women's basketball included on many lists debating the best rivalries in college sports. After all, the Huskies held a 28-4 series advantage and had not lost to the Irish since Jan. 2005. But as the BIG EAST foes prepare to meet for the fourth time in less than ninety days and eighth in the past two seasons, momentum has shifted and it's time to reconsider the rivalry's place among the greats. Notre Dame has won three of the past four matchups, including an upset of the top-seeded Huskies in last year's national semifinals, a win that snapped a 12-game series losing streak. This year, the Irish took both games, at home on Jan. 7 (a 74-67 overtime victory) and at the XL Center on Feb. 27 in the regular season finale (72-59). Eight days later, the squads met in the same venue for the BIG EAST tournament championship game, with the Huskies prevailing, 63-54. Here are a few other interesting facts (from Chris Masters' game notes) leading up to the big game.
- - All seven of Notre Dame's wins have come since the start of the 2000-01 season.
- - The Final Four matchup will be the 26th time in 37 games that both teams will be ranked.
- - At least one team has been ranked in every game of the series.
- - It will also be the 14th time both teams are ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll.
- - Notre Dame's seven wins against Connecticut since 2000-01 are the most by any team in the past 12 seasons. Rutgers (5), Tennessee (4), North Carolina (3) and Stanford (3) are the only other teams with at least three victories against the Huskies.
- - Sunday will be the third Final Four meeting between Notre Dame and UConn. The Irish have won both previous games, last season and during the 2001 national championship run in St. Louis.