<
>

Five reasons to tune in to Sunday's championship game

play
Bulldogs' determination wraps up Huskies' streak (1:55)

Relive Mississippi State's impressive performance that snapped Uconn's 111-game winning streak. (1:55)

DALLAS -- The refrain has been loud and it feels like it is played on a loop.

The women's game is all about UConn. If the women's game is to grow, somebody else needs to compete for, and win, a national championship.

Welp, as the millennials say, here we are.

Friday night, Mississippi State electrified the nation when Morgan William's buzzer-beating jumper vaulted the underdog Bulldogs past Geno Auriemma's Huskies and into the NCAA title game.

Sunday night, in front of a sellout crowd at American Airlines Center, two teams -- Mississippi State and SEC compatriot South Carolina -- will do battle for the NCAA title. And no matter who wins, it will be a first-time national champion. How's that for mixing things up?

"It's not up to one school," Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said Saturday. "For us and South Carolina, you're going to see two teams that are going to be extremely tough, physical, aggressive. They are going to represent not only our conference, but our game, in such a positive manner.

"I think what we did last night, it gives people hope. If you prepare, if your student-athletes believe, on any given night anything can happen. That's the beauty of sport."

The arena rocked Friday night as the Bulldogs built up to the big upset and the atmosphere is liable to be just as crackling on Sunday. The championship game is sold out and resale tickets reportedly are going for above face value. Mississippi State fans are heading to Dallas to cheer on their Cinderella team.

If you really can't find a reason to turn on your televisions or boot up your computers for Sunday's game, well, we don't even want to know you.

But we also want to help you out. So here are five reasons to tune in to Sunday's NCAA women's championship:

1. Morgan William

The player teammates call "Itty-Bitty" is listed as 5-foot-5 in the Mississippi State media guide and we are in no position to argue. But the Bulldogs point guard came up with the game's biggest, hugest moment perhaps ever on Friday night and she has a pretty compelling personal story to boot. After scoring 41 points in the Elite Eight game that sent the Bulldogs to their moment of sports destiny, William was emotional when she opened up about the death of her father, almost three years to the day of her Elite Eight performance. He passed away suddenly after complaining of chest pains the day before. William said she dedicated her performance to her father, honoring the legacy of the way he pushed and molded her. On Friday, she added to the legacy with a performance worthy of legend.

2. Dawn Staley

One of the most accomplished women's basketball players in the history of the game, Staley has done it all -- except win an NCAA title. Staley won three Olympic gold medals as a player and two more as an assistant coach and was the flag bearer for the U.S. Olympic team in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. She was successful in two U.S. professional leagues -- the American Basketball League and the WNBA. She is a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame. As a college player, she led Virginia to three consecutive Final Fours, was the two-time national collegiate player of the year, and finished as the NCAA's all-time steals leader. But Staley has never won an NCAA title, and now, as a head coach, she has South Carolina on the brink.

3. A'ja Wilson

When she's on, Kaela Davis -- the daughter of former NBA star Antonio Davis who transferred to South Carolina from Georgia Tech -- is one of the most spectacular talents in the women's game. But teammate Wilson is worth tuning in for. You won't find a player left in this tournament with more personality than Wilson. The Gamecocks center, who was the nation's top recruit coming out of high school three years ago, is funny, articulate and walks around, when she's not playing, sporting a gigantic set of pearls around her neck to go with her warm-up suit. Wilson is a star, one of the most dominant frontcourt players in the nation, and she will play a very big role in Sunday night's game.

4. Vic Schaefer

Family man is a convenient description for Schaefer, because basketball at Mississippi State is a family affair. The coach's daughter, Blair Schaefer, a junior guard, is averaging 10.8 points in the NCAA tournament, including three starts. The Schaefers are the first father-daughter combo in Final Four history. But Schaefer's affection for all his players is clear. Look no further than the bear hug he gave William after her game winner against Connecticut.

5. Famous fans

Friday night, perhaps no one outside of the players on the court got more screen time than Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who was in the building to cheer on his alma mater, Mississippi State. His genuinely enthusiastic embrace of the Hail State family made the Bulldogs' win all the more fun. And there should be more where that came from, with Mississippi State playing for a first national championship.