The field is set for this weekend’s Women’s Final Four at Amalie Arena: Baylor will play Oregon in the first semifinal, and UConn will play Notre Dame in the other. The teams are set to arrive today for this weekend’s festivities.
Here’s what you need to know about the area’s latest big sporting event:
When are the games?
Both semifinals are on Friday, April 5. Baylor-Oregon tips off at 7 p.m., and Notre Dame-UConn will start about a half hour later (roughly 9:30). They’ll be shown on ESPN2. The two winners will meet in the national title game on Sunday, April 7 at 6 p.m. That game will be televised on ESPN.
How much are tickets, and where can I get them?
As of Monday afternoon, all-session tickets were available through the NCAA’s official site starting at $81. Semifinal tickets started at $35 each.
Who’s the favorite?
Baylor. The Lady Bears got every first-place vote in the last polls, won their first four tournament games by an average of 38 points each and come to Tampa with a 27-game winning streak. Baylor also has plenty of size with seven 6-footers, including second-team All-America center Kalani Brown (who’s 6-foot-7).
What do I need to know about the other teams?
In a sport with little parity at the top, Oregon is the closest thing left to a Cinderella. This is the first time the 2-seed Ducks have ever made it this far. Guard Sabrina Ionescu has more career triple-doubles (18) than any player (male or female) in NCAA history.
UConn is the only team to make it to all three semifinals in Tampa (2008, 2015 and now), but coach Geno Auriemma seemed surprised that his Huskies were able to earn a 12th consecutive trip to the Women’s Final Four. UConn is talented but has a short bench and will have a hard time winning a 12th national title.
Notre Dame is the defending national champion. The Irish are one of the best shooting teams in the country and have a superstar in Arike Ogunbowale, who hit buzzer beaters to win both Final Four games last year. Forward Brianna Turner is the only player remaining in the field who also played in the event the last time it was in Tampa, when the Irish finished second to UConn.
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Are there any notable Florida or Tampa Bay ties?
Not really, because the area doesn’t produce a lot of female basketball talent. There isn’t a Florida native left in the tournament. Ogunbowale’s brother (Dare) is a Bucs running back who spent most of last season on the practice squad before appearing in two games as a returner.
Other than the games, what else is going on?
*The Tampa Convention Center will host Tourney Town, a free festival with contests, games, autographs and clinics Friday-Sunday. The event includes Beyond the Baseline, which features opportunities for networking and professional development.
*The plaza outside Amalie Arena will host a free party with live music, food and games before the games (4-6:30 on Friday and 3-5:30 on Sunday).
*On Saturday, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park will have a free celebration of basketball with food trucks, fireworks and live music from pep bands and singer Gavin DeGraw from 6-11 p.m.
*The Women’s Final Four Bounce is a dribbling parade for children 18 and younger. It starts at 1 p.m. Sunday at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.