Down goes the gauntlet. For the first time ever, two undefeated teams will meet in the finals and it only seems right that it's UConn and Notre Dame. Arch rivals during their time together in the Big East, the bad blood remains, which, frankly, only enhances the experience for fans and media.
On Monday, Notre Dame coach Muffy McGraw was asked if some sense of civility might return to one of college basketball's best matchups.
“I think we’re past that point,” she said, via the Hartford Courant, apparently referring to subtle back-and-forths through the media in recent years, when the Fighting Irish pretty much dominated the series, though they never won a national championship during that time.
In March, McGraw said that the Huskies were the reason the two teams, now in different conferences, didn't meet in the regular season. Auriemma's response: “It’s not nice for Muffet to fib during Lent."
Not surprisingly, Muffet didn't appreciated the accusation. And things only got more awkward over the weekend when both teams were on hand to honor the AP Player of the Year ... UConn's Breanna Stewart.
“Yeah, I think there was definitely tension in the room," McGraw admitted. " I think for us, we wanted Kayla McBride to win the Player of the Year award. So I think it was a little bit of that. And certainly the rivalry has gone a little away from the civility it was when we were in the league together.”
Because we live in a world where Auriemma always gets the last word, it's no surprise that -- you guessed it -- he had some final thoughts on this too.
“When you play as often as we have in such a short period of time, I think a lot of things happen that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t," he said.
“Look, no one knows what it's like being us, what we go through every day, what our players go through, how every time they win an award how every(one) else is pissed off? And the worst part is they act pissed off because [they believe] it's all Connecticut all the time. Yes, people are sick of it. So this [the hostility] is just natural, but we live with it every day, 365 days a year.
“Why is she angry? I don’t know. You have to ask her. I haven’t changed in 25 years. People that know me understand I haven’t changed. How I run my program hasn’t changed, the respect we have for everyone else hasn’t changed.
“We think we are the best basketball team in the country, but we don’t flaunt it. I haven’t changed. But a funny thing happens to people once they start beating us.”