Baylor won its four NCAA Tournament games by an average of 38 points. In the regional final Monday night against Iowa, the Bears cruised to a 32-point win.
Baylor (35-1) is the overall No. 1 seed, but don’t call them favorites to win the national championship.
“I’m not sure we’re the team to beat,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said on a Tuesday afternoon conference call. “I’m not sure we’ve been picked to win it. We’re one of four teams that can win it all.
“We’re just happy to get there.”
In reality, it would have been a major disappointment if Baylor did not get to Tampa. The Bears have won 27 straight games. They have two of the best post players in the country, 6-foot-7 senior Kalani Brown and 6-foot-4 junior Lauren Cox.
This will be their fourth trip to the final four, their first since 2012. They have won two national championships (2005, 2012). Their semifinal opponent, Oregon, has never made it to a Final Four.
The Ducks are very good at shooting 3-pointers. And guard Sabrina Ionescu is one of the most dangerous players in women’s college basketball. Baylor doesn’t rely on the 3-point shot, making about three per game.
Mulkey hasn’t seen much of Oregon on film yet, but she said her team has faced others like them.
“We’ve seen teams that shoot the 3 a lot,” she said. “We see it in our league and we’ve also seen it because of our height advantage inside. We’ve seen teams change their approach and shoot more 3s.”
Perhaps it’s just gamesmanship, but leading up to Friday’s semifinal Mulkey is not taking anything for granted.
“We don’t approach it like, ‘Oh, we’re the No. 1 seed, we’re supposed to win,’ “ she said. “According to a lot of people we’re not supposed to win. But we’re going to fight, we’re going to claw and we’re going to compete.
“All we are thinking about is Oregon. These four teams, I’m telling you, any four of these teams can win it all.”
Women’s Final Four
Amalie Arena, Tampa
Friday, April 5: Baylor vs. Oregon, 7 and Notre Dame vs. UConn, 9:30 TV: ESPN2
April 7: final, 6 TV: ESPN