Starting today, history will be made at the 2014 Women’s Final Four for many reasons.
For the first time in the event’s existence, Nashville is the host city for this year’s tournament. More history could be made on Tuesday night in the title game, which might match two undefeated teams in Connecticut and Notre Dame for the national title.
It has been a long journey to this point for everyone who has worked for the past six years trying to put this event together. The city of Nashville won the bid to host the Final Four back in 2008, and now it is finally here. This is another chance for the Music City to prove it can host big-time events like this one.
“We want to make this the best Final Four ever,” Ohio Valley Conference commissioner and chair of the Nashville Local Organizing Committee Beth DeBauche said. “We want to focus on the student-athlete, and make sure they make memories for a lifetime. We want our visitors that come to the Middle Tennessee area to realize what a wonderful community we have, and for them to realize what true southern hospitably is all about. We think we are a great host for an event of this caliber, and we really can not get a bigger event women’s athletics in the world.”
As mentioned in a column I wrote last year, which included an interview with DeBauche, the state of Tennessee is well-known for women’s basketball on the collegiate level. Especially with the success of the programs like Tennessee with eight national championships, Vanderbilt and right here in our backyard, MTSU, which has advanced to the NCAA tournament in six consecutive years.
Like all basketball fans statewide, we were hoping a team from the Volunteer state would get to play in the Final Four right here at home, especially at the nice facility which the event will be held at this weekend, the Bridgestone Arena. Five teams ‑‑ UT, Vanderbilt, MTSU, UT-Martin and Chattanooga from this state made the postseason. However, four of them got eliminated in the first round, and the Lady Vols lasted through the Sweet 16 where they fell to Maryland 73-62 on March 30.
Honestly, it is a bummer, but the Women’s Final Four still should be amazing with the quality of teams coming to the Music City. Of course, the top two teams in the nation, UConn (38-0) and Notre Dame (36-0), breezed through their regions. The Huskies broke apart from the Big East and joined the American Athletic Conference, while the Fighting Irish also left the Big East and joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Usually, these national powerhouses would have already met during the regular season since they both used to be in the same conference (Big East.) However, with conference realignment they could not find a place on the schedule to meet this season. In the meantime, each of them have a tough semifinal matchup. UConn faces Stanford and Notre Dame takes on Maryland.
Hopefully, both of them will advance to the biggest title game in the sport’s history. Since the beginning of the season everyone had hoped for a national title game between these two perfect programs. It would be music to our ears to have it in the Music City, and in a state which loves women’s basketball on all levels.