The NCAA women’s basketball season comes to a close on Sunday as Baylor and Notre Dame square off in the 2019 National Championship game. The game tips off at 6:00 p.m. ET with both squads looking to take home their third national championship.
The two schools were the top two No. 1 seeds in the tournament, and had the best odds to cut down the nets when all was said and done. They both faced significant challenges in the national semifinals, but held off two of the better programs in the country. Baylor trailed Oregon midway through the fourth quarter, but pulled away late in a 72-67 victory. Notre Dame trailed the 11-time national champion UConn by as much as seven in the fourth quarter before storming back to win 81-76.
Baylor was the No. 1 overall seed in this tournament, and they enter the national title game as a 2.5-point favorite, and a -145 favorite on the moneyline. Here’s a look at why each team will cover the spread on Sunday evening.
1) Baylor vs. 1) Notre Dame, 6 p.m., Sunday, ESPN
Spread: Baylor -2.5
Why Baylor will cover: Defense wins championships, or so both Baylor coach Kim Mulkey and Bear Bryant will tell you. The best defensive team in NCAA women’s basketball prevailed in their first match-up with the league’s best offense, the Oregon Ducks, by absolutely smothering their star player Sabrina Ionescu while consistently scoring. “Good team basketball” is often a locker-room cliche, but in the Lady Bears’ case it’s a valid truism: even their best players, like Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox, rarely jump off the stats sheet. But they’re filled with underrated weapons like DiDi Richards, Juicy Landrum and Chloe Jackson who have already powered the team to the league’s best record. They more or less coasted until the Final Four, and there’s no question they have what it takes to win the title.
Why Notre Dame will cover: The Fighting Irish are impossible to count out, if last year’s back-to-back buzzer beaters in the Final Four and national championship are any indication. Arike Ogunbowale, the gutsy shooter behind both those buckets, is looking to cap off her senior campaign with another title — and overall, this team is actually better and deeper than the team that won the title last year. They’re much more offensively minded than the Lady Bears, but as long as at least half of their five viable scoring threats are making buckets, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be able to more than hold their own. The flash and attitude that keeps them in games where they’ve fallen far behind is exactly what makes them so dangerous in championship situations — everybody can score, and they’ve been here before.