29-7 (10-6 SEC)
34-2 (16-0 SEC)
The Lady Vols will enjoy their usual height advantage in this game, and they should look to exploit it early and often. Against Ohio State, Kelley Cain had her best game of the year, and her 80% accuracy forced the Buckeyes to pay attention to her, which opened up the guards on the perimeter. Tennessee will need a similar game from their posts again, though they can afford to run a deeper rotation rather play the matchups. Beyond the starters, Notre Dame also has 6'-3" freshman Natalie Achonwa playing about 15 to 20 minutes a game off the bench to help the post rotation. But other than 6'-1" Ariel Braker, who only plays spot minutes, the Irish are all 5'-1"" and under outside their three posts.
This is a team that Tennessee can - and must - outrebound by exploiting the height advantage. If the Lady Vols can show the commitment to crashing the boards that they've shown on occasion, the extra possession will likely prove to be the difference in the game. It's the formula we've always heard from Pat Summitt: play the inside-out game. Get the ball to the posts and work outward as necessary. Good things will happen for Tennessee if the guards have the discipline to get the posts involved early and often.
But the height difference has served Notre Dame will by giving them steals. They average 13 steals per game compared to Tennessee's 7.5, and are probably excited to play a Tennessee team that has been prone to turnovers this season. If Tennessee outrebounds the Irish, Notre Dame can make up the difference with steals if Tennessee gets sloppy with their passing.
Prediction: 75 - 68 Tennessee
BassWatch™: DNP for the rest of the tournament; we'll retire this for the season whether Tennessee wins or not.