TSFJ One-On-One's: Breaking Down The Women's NCAA Final Four

Like any other workplace, conversations happen throughout TSFJ's e-mail office. We come from different places with both different and shared interests to bring readers the best quality content. With both the Men's and Women's Final Fours getting underway this weekend, we'd like to offer our personal take on he the act. With TSFJ outstanding freshman James Simpson II and Johnathan Tillman, we run down the college basketball games this weekend.

Oregon versus Baylor. Friday, 7 p.m. Eastern.

Johnathan T.: Good morning. Let's tackle the more interesting Final Four: the women. We got Baylor versus Oregon. Who ya got?

James Simpson II: Totally agree with that. Love this matchup. Total contrasting styles. You have Baylor who are well-balanced, protect the paint and score inside with Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox. Oregon, on the other hand, might be the most fun team in women's college basketball this season. If people say they resemble the Golden State Warriors, then they wouldn't be lying. They lead the nation in three-point field goal percentage, space the floor, nail threes, are deadly in screen-and-roll action, like to push the pace and have the most complete player in the country in Sabrina Ionescu.

I see Baylor struggling early dealing with Oregon's spread offense, where they might draw the Bears bigs out to the perimeter and mismatches could take place. I think the X-factor in the game is Baylor small forward Didi Richards, who is super-athletic and is like a do-everything wing. She might draw the assignment of guarding Ionescu throughout the game. I see Baylor's interior game and work on the boards controlling the game and tempo just enough to get by. Kim Mulkey's group is determined to finish this season on top. Baylor 78-73.

Johnathan T.: Sabrina Ionescu has a very strong case in being the best college player in the country. She is an outstanding leader and playmaker. But Baylor has so, so much interior talent. You mentioned the tandem inside of Brown and Cox. It's really hard to beat a team as sound as Baylor, even with Ionescu at her best. There is a reason Baylor has won 27 straight games, and it continues tonight with them prevailing over the Ducks--by double digits, to me.

[Intermission Conversation]

Johnathan T.: Before we move to the next game, I would like your thoughts on Notre Dame women's Head Coach Muffet McGraw vehemently advocating for equality.

James Simpson II: I'm totally with McGraw on the subject of women deserving more opportunities in leadership roles in sports. She's certainly right, when she said yesterday at her conference that people hire people who look like them. That rings true. Women and minorities in general deserve to be looked at more for roles not only in sports but in corporate roles as well. McGraw has been a strong advocate for leading the charge for equal rights for women over the years. The fact that her entire coaching staff is filled with women, is no coincidence.

Johnathan T.: There is always something to be said about using one's platform for a greater good. Challenging the very wrong standards and biases in society like McGraw did is something we all should be able to do. Coach McGraw understood how powerful her platform is and the national reach being in the Final Four has. Sure, we're far from that utopian idea that it won't matter what one's race gender, sexuality, etc is when they're hired, chosen or whatever. But this is when and where the journey starts towards that: by calling out what's wrong with our society.

UConn versus Notre Dame on Friday, after Oregon and Baylor conclude.

Johnathan T.: So, we come to the most-anticipated game of this weekend. Notre Dame versus the UConn Huskies. Who wins?

James Simpson II: By far, the best rivalry in women's college basketball in the last decade. The new UConn-Tennessee of this era, if I might add. There will be no secrets between Geno Auriemma and Muffet McGraw. This is the eighth time Notre Dame and Connecticut have met in the Final Four and seventh time this decade (Notre Dame lead 4-3).

The Fighting Irish have the best lineup in women's hoops, with each capable of dropping 20 points every game. They also have four players that had over 100 assists this season. To put frankly, they have an explosive offense that put pressure on defenses constantly with the likes of all-around threat Jackie Young and last year's Final Four Most Outstanding Player Arike Ogunbowale. The problem for them is that they're not very deep. UConn isn't either. UConn can score like crazy too and in order for them to win, seniors Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson will have to perform big.

The key to this game will be who can stay out of foul trouble and keep their starters on the floor the longest. Both teams are susceptible defensively so this can turn out to be a shootout. I'm taking the defending champions Notre Dame in this one because of the vast experience and more offensive weapons. This one is truly a "must-see" game.

Johnathan T.: Before I give my answer, how old are you?

James Simpson II: I'm 30.

Johnathan T.: Ok. So we're about the same age. And if we started following college hoops around the same time, then we've both been cognizant of what Geno Auriemma has established at UConn for the past three decades. I know the phrase, "culture of winning" is thrown around a lot, but that trying exists with Connecticut's women's basketball program.

But there has been one team above others who has not cared about how dominant UConn has been: Notre Dame.

Arike Ogunbowale, whose name grew with her heroics in last year's Final Four, is one of the most exciting basketball players to watch. She's such a savvy scorer, capable of heating up after struggling and getting to her spots on the court at any time she chooses. This is truly a matchup that has everything we want--history, talent and stakes. But there's something about UConn that I just can't ignore and I'll always choose them as long as they're as elite as they are. I went here to place my wager.

Johnathan T.: Tonight, what's the most likely scenario to come from the weekend and which one would you like to see?

James Simpson II: I think Notre Dame and UConn is a toss-up but I feel Notre Dame is a little bit better so I like them. Baylor I think will come through even though I'm rooting for Oregon. Notre Dame vs Baylor is my title game and the two best teams this year. I think Notre Dame wins a thriller and that's also the scenario I'd like to see occur. If the Fighting Irish win back-to-back titles, I think they go down as one of the best women's teams ever alongside the Chamique Holdsclaw-led 1996-98 Tennessee teams, 2002 Connecticut, 2009-10 Maya Moore-led UConn squads and the 40-0 2012 Baylor team with Brittney Griner.

Johnathan T.: I'm definitely rooting for Sabrina Ionescu because I just want her to overcome the biggest odds. I agree with you that Baylor versus Notre Dame is the most likely Championship matchup. I would like to see Oregon versus UConn because the Huskies being a #2 seed seems to have given them some extra motivation. Naphesia Collier is on a roll and there is a bit of revenge at play for this class to lose in last year's Final Four the way they did. I want arguably the best player against arguably the most storied program.

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