All eyes are on the Oregon women’s basketball team in the NCAA Tournament.
Behind Sabrina Ionescu and a star-studded cast of Ducks including Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard, Oregon will make its first Final Four appearance in program history on Friday. The Ducks are the only team to never make it to the round of four before.
Notre Dame, the defending national champs, will be returning to the Final Four again this season, after knocking off UConn in the national semifinals in 2018. UConn is competing in the Final Four for the 12th consecutive season and looking for its 12th national championship. Baylor is returning to the Final Four for the first time since winning a national championship in 2012.
Ahead of the Ducks meeting with perennial powerhouse Baylor, let’s take a look at What They’re Saying about Oregon's first appearance in the Final Four.
It’s nearly impossible to talk about Oregon without talking about it Sabrina Ionescu, the Ducks star guard and the NCAA triple-double record holder. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and Warriors champion Stephen Curry both praised Ionescu, who has dominated the pick and roll throughout the tournament thus far.
4 new episodes of #DETAIL are now live! I’m breaking down the performances of four star players heading into the Final Four of the #NCAAWBB Tournament. Check them out exclusively on @ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/fr2BoBb7NV— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 4, 2019
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey had more to say about the WBCA Player of the Year in Thursday’s press conference:
“What a talent. What a joy to watch. If you’re not having to play against her…The thing that I love more than her talent is I love the way she competes. She’s got that umph in her. She makes everybody around her better.”
An ESPN panel, including LaChina Robinson and Mechelle Voepel, cast their predictions on how the Ducks will fare in the NCAA Tournament. Only one member on the panel, ESPN's Graham Hays picked Oregon to advance to the national championship title game. No panel members chose the Ducks as a national championship winner.
Who will win Friday? Baylor and Notre Dame are heavy favorites in the Final Four. Our panel is split on which team will win the NCAA title on Sunday.https://t.co/TAQhhFFdQH— ESPN Women's Hoops (@ESPN_WomenHoop) April 4, 2019
Michelle Smith of the Pac-12 Conference knows the dangerous Ducks wiil have a daunting task ahead, specifically containing the Bears dominant duo of 6-foot-8 Kalani Brown and 6-4 forward Lauren Cox.
First story up for NCAA. Read please. https://t.co/3QQ5VadR2P— Michelle Smith (@macsmith413) April 5, 2019
ESPN also noted Oregon's need to stop the Brown-Cox tandem, as Baylor historically relies on its post players to set the tone on offense.
Oregon vs. Baylor. Call it new school versus old school basketball. Which style will win tonight in the Final Four?https://t.co/C12Cdr2j8h— ESPN Women's Hoops (@ESPN_WomenHoop) April 5, 2019
The Oregonian says the Ducks are doing more than dancing in the Final Four--they are putting the Pacific Northwest and West Coast on the map for basketball of any gender.
Tip off for the Final Four game between Oregon and Baylor is set for 4:00 p.m. PT.
Make sure to follow NBCS Northwest for complete coverage of the Final Four from our staff, as well as behind-the-scenes updates from Eddy Ionescu, Sabrina Ionescu's twin brother, on Twitter and Instagram.