For years it lurked as a potential rivalry that hasn’t happened. Stanford on the West Coast, Connecticut in the East, each the dominant program in its region.
Now, thanks to the NCAA tournament, the two women’s basketball powers are meeting halfway.
Stanford plays Connecticut in the semifinals of the Kansas City Regional, the marquee matchup in the next round of a tournament march that has top seeds Tennessee, LSU and North Carolina muscling to the front and little ol’ Liberty tagging along.
The Stanford-UConn game Sunday is a rarity for the NCAAs — the nation’s No. 1-ranked team against the defending champion. Stanford led the final poll, though the Cardinal are the No. 2 seed in the region, and No. 3 Connecticut is seeking an unprecedented fourth straight national title.
“I think there’s probably some people surprised that it’s a regional semifinal game and not a regional final or a Final Four game,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I’m sure UConn feels the same way.
“I think it will be hard because one team is not going to move on. I’m sure both feel they’re deserving of being an Elite Eight team or a Final Four team, but the bracket was not designed that way.”
Top seed Michigan State (30-3) meets Vanderbilt (24-7) in the other Kansas City semifinal Sunday.