Duke got one of its basketball teams to a Final Four, and Oklahoma now has both. As usual, Connecticut and Tennessee made it, too.
The field for the women's Final Four in San Antonio is set after regional championship games that, with one exception, went according to form.
Connecticut, Duke and Oklahoma advanced as No. 1 seeds on Monday night. Tennessee was a No. 2 seed, but the Lady Vols making it for the 13th time is hardly a surprise. Tennessee (29-4) plays Connecticut (37-0) in one semifinal Friday night. Oklahoma (31-3) plays Duke (31-3) in the other.
Two weeks ago, when the NCAA tournament started, Connecticut was the overwhelming favorite to win the national championship. Nothing has happened since to change that perception. Just ask Old Dominion.
Connecticut made its first 13 shots in beating the Lady Monarchs 85-64 in the Mideast Regional final. The Huskies, seeking their third national title, won their other NCAA tournament games by margins of 18, 38 and 49 points.
"I'm not ready to call them the best ever," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, "but maybe after next weekend."
Tennessee, a six-time national champion, advanced with a 68-63 victory over Southeastern Conference rival Vanderbilt in the Midwest Regional. Vanderbilt was the No. 1 seed.
Duke, whose men's team was upset as a No. 1 seed in the regionals, earned its second women's Final Four trip by beating South Carolina 77-68 in the East. Oklahoma became the first Big 12 team to reach the Final Four in the league's six-year history, beating Colorado 94-60 in the West.
The Oklahoma men's team also made it.
Oklahoma also made the Final Four in the men's tournament and becomes the third school to put teams in both in the same year. Duke did it in 1999 and Georgia in 1983.
"I think we are a legitimate title contender," said Oklahoma's Stacey Dales, who had 20 points and nine assists against Colorado. "We are not done yet."
Connecticut won national championships in 1995 and 2000 and is trying to become the fourth unbeaten champion. Tennesee was 39-0 in 1998, Connecticut went 35-0 in 1995 and Texas was 34-0 in 1986.
This will be the fourth time that Connecticut and Tennessee have met in the Final Four. That, along with their annual regular-season meetings, has made it the most glamorous rivalry in women's basketball.
"It seems like we always end up seeing each other, somehow, some way," Tennessee's Kara Lawson said. "You just credit two great programs, two great coaching staffs and players that know how to win ball games in March."
Connecticut's two national championships both came at Tennessee's expense in the finals. When Tennessee won the championship in 1996, it beat UConn in the national semifinals.
Duke, which lost to Purdue in the 1999 title game, will take a 22-game winning streak to San Antonio. Led by sophomores Alana Beard and Iciss Tillis, Duke has made its run with just eight players. The team motto: Eight is enough.
Oklahoma, which lost in the NCAA tournament's third round the past two years, now has a Final Four to go with three straight Big 12 titles.
The Sooners' rise to national prominence is remarkable considering the program was dropped in 1990 until coaches led a national protest that brought about its reinstatement eight days later.
It's also a major milestone for coach Sherri Coale, whose energy and vision never wavered even after Oklahoma went 5-22 in her first season, 1996-97.
"What really makes it special is that they bought into the process of becoming extraordinary," Coale said. "A lot of people see the end result and buy into that. These guys bought into the process, and there's a big difference."