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Baylor's Departure From Women's Basketball Tournament Leaves Huge Hole


It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

The NCAA women's basketball tournament continues tonight with two Elite Eight games. Kentucky plays Connecticut and Georgia plays California. The winners move on to the Final Four. Today, though, the buzz is still about who is out, namely mighty Baylor. As NPR's Tom Goldman reports, Louisville's stunning upset of the defending champion Lady Bears last night left a crater-sized hole in the field.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: The question going into this year's women's tournament, exactly how does one beat Baylor, a valid question considering the Lady Bears went 40 and 0 last year and won the title, then the 32-game win streak this season and, of course, the presence of 6'8" senior center Brittney Griner, considered the most dominant player in the history of women's college hoops. The question today...

MIKE MONACO: Who emerges and can Notre Dame get it done now?

GOLDMAN: Mike Monaco is the sports editor for the Observer, that's the school newspaper at Notre Dame where last night's Baylor upset prompted extra palpitations. The Fighting Irish have been the best of the rest during Baylor's reign, losing to the Lady Bears in last year's title game. And then this season, says Monaco, beating Big East rival Connecticut three times, a one-point win, a two-point win and a victory in triple overtime.

MONACO: The games where the balls seem to bounce their way at the end, it does give a sense that Notre Dame is that team of destiny. And that Baylor losing, you know, that only accentuates that point.

GOLDMAN: Baylor's demise also accentuates the point that the women's tournament is wide open, something it hasn't been for a while. Baylor is merely the most recent dynasty. That's not necessarily bad for fans. Baylor was a big attraction with its gaudy winning streaks and the star power of Brittney Griner and point guard Odyssey Sims. But that's all gone, replaced by a sense of mystery as to who will, in fact, emerge in New Orleans next week as the new champion, Notre Dame, UConn, Cal, Louisville? For once, you can't count anyone out. Tom Goldman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.