The Stanford Cardinal officially know their last game of this most unusual season will be Sunday, when they take on fellow Pac-12 team Arizona in the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament championship game.
Stanford are coming off two especially tough games, but their never say die attitude and balanced team play helped them overcome Louisville in the Elite Eight and then just barely outlast South Carolina in an epic Final Four clash. It’s clear the Cardinal have been battle-tested, and this group gets one more chance to show what they can do together in the biggest game of the season.
Arizona, meanwhile, made a series of upsets to get to the title game, none bigger than their absolute masterclass over UConn on Friday to beat the country’s most dominant program and perennial national title favorites. This is by far the farthest the Wildcats have gotten in the tournament in their history, but don’t let that fool you — they’re playing with house money and won’t be afraid of Stanford at all. After all, these teams played each other twice already this season.
Of course, those two previous meetings were dominant Stanford wins, but Arizona are on a roll, and this game is likely to be much, much closer. While South Carolina successfully shut down Stanford’s trademark 3-point shooting in the semifinal, Arizona will likely opt for the opposite approach in their stifling defense, trying to shut down Stanford’s drives into the paint, easy buckets at the rim and mid-range game. If they do that, they’ll dare Stanford to beat them with 3-pointers.
Obviously, we know Stanford can blow a game open with their 3-point shooting, and they’ve already broken the NCAA Tournament record for most shots made from deep in a single tourney. If they can’t find their shooting touch from behind the arc, they have the ability to problem-solve as a group, but honestly, finding their stroke early and often would be for the best, right?
Stanford are the favorites, they entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, and their team approach under Tara VanDerveer will square off against Adia Barnes’ team’s supernova run in the tournament. Aari McDonald is the latest star shooter the Cardinal will need to stop, but they’re in the title game for a reason. 40 minutes to glory for one of these teams — hopefully it’s the Cardinal.
How to Watch Stanford vs. Arizona:
When: Sunday, Apr. 4, 3 p.m. PT
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
How to watch: ESPN, FuboTV