The women’s version of March Madness begins this weekend with 64 teams trying to reach the NCAA 2013 Women’s Final Four in New Orleans. The four schools that made the Final Four last year — Baylor, Notre Dame, UConn and Stanford — are the number-one seeds for this year’s tournament. President Obama predicts that fans will see a rematch of last year’s championship game between Baylor and Notre Dame, with Baylor winning it’s second consecutive national championship.
Baylor’s best-known player is 6-foot-8 senior center Brittney Griner, currently the most dominant player in women’s college basketball. Last year she helped lead the Bears to an unprecedented 40-0 season, and this year Baylor enters the tournament with a 32-1 record. She is the only player in NCAA history to score 2000 points and block 500 shots in a career, and she currently has more than 3100 points and 700 blocked shots. She has also recorded 14 dunks.
Although most eyes will be on Griner, there are a number of other outstanding players to watch in this year’s tournament:
Skylar Diggins of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks to pass the ball in the first half against the Connecticut Huskies during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship at Pepsi Center on April 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. She has led the Irish to the National Championship game in each of the past two seasons, but she is still looking for her first title.
Stefanie Dolson (31) of the Connecticut Huskies controls the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2011 NCAA Women’s Final Four at Conseco Fieldhouse on April 3, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The 6-foot-5 junior center is UConn’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer.
Kayla McBride (right) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates with the trophy after they won 57-51 against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Walmart Carrier Classic on the deck of the USS Yorktown on November 9, 2012 in Charleston, South Carolina. The 5-foot-11 junior guard may be Notre Dame’s most versatile player.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (top) of the Connecticut Huskies drives in the first half against Brittany Mallory (bottom) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship at Pepsi Center on April 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Only a sophomore, Mosqueda-Lewis is the leading scorer on an incredibly powerful Huskies team.
Chiney Ogwumike (13) of the Stanford Cardinal in action against the Tennessee Lady Volunteers at Maples Pavilion on December 20, 2011 in Palo Alto, California. Now that former teammate and older sister Nneka Ogwumike has graduated, the younger Ogwumike has become to go-to player for the Stanford Cardinal.
Odyssey Sims of the Baylor Bears pushes the ball up court in the first half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the National Final game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship at Pepsi Center on April 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Sims injured her hamstring early in a Nov. 16 loss to Stanford, and that may be the only reason why the 32-1 Bears aren’t striving for a second consecutive undefeated season.
Joslyn Tinkle (left) of the Stanford Cardinal looks to pass around the arms of Atonye Nyingifa (11) of the UCLA Bruins in the first half in the championship game of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Women’s Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The 6-foot-3 senior center is tough to handle in the paint, but she’s also hit more than 100 three-point shots in her career.
Brittney Griner #42 of the Baylor Bears gets set to attempt a free throw in the second half against the Stanford Cardinal during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship at Pepsi Center on April 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Simply put, Griner is a rock star; even people who don’t follow women’s basketball know who she is.