It's been a strange season for UConn. Even though his team ran through the early part of the schedule, Auriemma knew it was just a matter of time before the Huskies' shortcomings were exposed. Losses to Baylor and Notre Dame on the road were understandable, but it wasn't until the end of February that Connecticut really came to a crossroads.
The Huskies lost to St. John's on senior night, snapping a 99-game home winning streak. Nine days later, they were beaten by Notre Dame. But those two defeats got the Huskies refocused and they've been unstoppable ever since. They cruised to the Big East championship and rolled through their first three NCAA tournament games before pulling away from Kentucky in the Kingston Regional final.
Now, they're back in the Final Four for the 13th time in the last 18 years.
Notre Dame has played with a purpose all postseason, yearning to get back to the title game and finish what it started last year.
The Irish have won all four NCAA tournament games by double figures, including a 44-point rout of St. Bonaventure that matched the 22-year-old record for most lopsided victory in the round of 16. Then they blew out Maryland 80-49 in the Raleigh Regional final.
But to get back to the championship game, Notre Dame will have to figure out a way to stop UConn again.
AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard and Janie McCauley and AP freelancer Chuck Schoffner contributed to this report.
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