Women's Basketball

Dallas, American Airlines Center ready to host Women’s Final Four

Stanford players run during a practice session for the women’s NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament on Thursday in Dallas.
Stanford players run during a practice session for the women’s NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament on Thursday in Dallas. AP

As the Women’s Final Four begins on Friday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas, the Connecticut Huskies are the heavy favorites as they look for its 12th National Championship.

Stanford looks for its third title while South Carolina (second time) and Mississippi State (first time) are new teams to the Final Four.

In the national semifinals, Stanford plays South Carolina at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and Mississippi State plays Connecticut at 9 p.m. Friday. The championship game will be played at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Connecticut

Record: 36-0

Location: Storrs, Conn.

Enrollment: 31,624

Head Coach: Geno Auriemma, 32nd

season (991-134)

Outlook: The No. 1 Huskies are the four-time defending national champions and have won an NCAA-record 111 consecutive games. During the streak, UConn has won by double digits 108 times. The Huskies, in their 10th straight Final Four, own an 11-6 all-time record in the national semifinals. UConn is averaging 96.5 points per game in this year’s tournament and winning by a margin of 36 points per game.

Mississippi State

Record: 33-4

Location: Starkville, Miss.

Enrollment: 21,622

Head Coach: Vic Schaefer, fifth season (123-50)

Outlook: For the third consecutive season, the Bulldogs have set a program record for wins in a season, eclipsing 28 wins last season and 27 wins in 2014-15. Mississippi State is making its first Final Four appearance in program history after defeating Baylor 94-85 in overtime during the Oklahoma City regional. The Bulldogs are averaging 92.8 points per game in the tournament.

Stanford

Record: 32-5

Location: Stanford, Calif.

Enrollment: 16,122

Head Coach: Tara VanDerveer, 31st season (860-179)

Outlook: VanDerveer guided the Cardinal to national championships in 1990 and 1992, and has won more than 1,000 games in her head coaching career — just the second women’s coach to accomplish the feat (Pat Summitt). Stanford is making its seventh trip the Final Four in the past 10 years, and 13th overall. The Cardinal got past Notre Dame 76-75 to clinch a trip to Dallas.

South Carolina

Record: 31-4

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Enrollment: 33,724

Head Coach: Dawn Staley, ninth season (219-80)

Outlook: With a 71-64 win over Florida State on March 27, the Gamecocks secured their second Final Four trip after appearing for the first time in 2015. The Gamecocks enter Friday’s game having won four tournament games by an average of 25.5 points. South Carolina coach Dawn Staley is 0-5 all-time against Stanford’s VanDerveer.

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