The advancement of all four No. 1 seeds to the Final Four on the women's side clinched as much following Wisconsin and Duke moving on Saturday. As for which teams would get a chance to cut down the nets in Tampa, that's another question entirely.
Notre Dame and South Carolina played in the evening's first game, a battle between two disparate resumes. The Irish are a three-time tournament runner-up since 2011. The Gamecocks have never played in a national championship game. Given Notre Dame's five straight Final Four runs, there was little question who had the historical weight at its back.
While Maryland is no slouch, there was also little question who historically reigns supreme between the Terps and Connecticut. Geno Auriemma's squad has made the Final Four in eight straight seasons and is looking for its second three-peat in program history. By comparison, Maryland's impressive back-to-back Final Four run looks piddly.
With that in mind, let's take a look at Sunday night's action and see how it all played out.
Madison Cable hit a jumper with 18 second remaining, sending Notre Dame to its second straight national championship game with a 66-65 win over South Carolina.
Cable, who had missed all three of her shots prior to the last-minute shot, was in the right place at the right time when Jewell Loyd's attempt to take the lead clanged off of the rim. She gathered the ball and got a clean look at the basket, knocking down the clutch shot to give the Irish a chance at their second national title.
South Carolina's attempt at a comeback of its own failed when Tiffany Mitchell missed a three-pointer with two seconds remaining. The Gamecocks were 2-of-12 from beyond the arc overall in a game that saw the two sides knock down just three shots from distance.
Cable's shot helped Notre Dame from having to answer questions about nearly blowing a double-digit lead down the stretch. Ahead 64-52 with 7:51 remaining following a Kathryn Westbeld jumper, the Irish did not score again until Cable came through in the clutch. South Carolina scored 13 straight points amid turnovers and poorly timed shot attempts from the Irish, who looked at their wit's end at certain points.
Loyd scored a game-high 22 points while Brianna Turner (17 points) and Taya Reimer (16 points) were each in double figures. The only reason Cable was even in the game was due to foul trouble, with Lindsay Allen and Turner each getting whistled for their fifth down the stretch. Even Loyd, who has been up and down during the tourney run, was a bit of a mess on both ends when South Carolina was mounting its comeback.
"We didn't rebound, missed a bunch of shots," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said, per The Associated Press (via The New York Times). "Just a great basketball game. We went to Jewell. She had to do everything. Everyone contributed."
South Carolina's effort was led by A'ja Wilson, who scored 20 points off of the bench. Alaina Coates (12 points, nine rebounds), Mitchell (11 points) and Aleighsa Welch (10 points, 14 rebounds) were also in double figures and turned in all-around fine games. The Gamecocks did not get much, however, from Asia Dozier or Elem Ibiam, who were each scoreless and on the bench for good parts of the second half.
“Sometimes the best five players don’t have the type of chemistry you need to be successful, so we made a change to go back to a lineup that was more comfortable,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said, per Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune. “We thought it would be a great opportunity for Asia and Alaina to see the game a little bit."
Notre Dame will move on to play the winner of the night's second game. The Irish have lost to UConn in each of the last two Final Fours, so to say there is unfinished business would be an understatement.
To no one's surprise, the Huskies steamrolled Maryland to clinch a spot in the national championship game.
Coach Geno Auriemma's UConn squad is going for a national championship three-peat after yet another rout. Forward Breanna Stewart devastated the Terrapins with 25 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and four blocks in a brilliant all-around game.
Morgan Tuck added 24 points and nine boards for the victorious Huskies on Sunday, while guard Moriah Jefferson scored 14 and dished out five assists. UConn shot an outstanding 53.7 percent from the floor, compared to Maryland's 40.7 percent clip.
In the National Championship game Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson each scored 15 points Tuesday night to lead the Huskies to a 63-53 victory over Notre Dame. It was UConn's third straight title; Auriemma and the Huskies have won all 10 of their trips to the national championship game.
''Each day after January 1, this team just kept proving over and over again,'' Auriemma said. ''You wouldn't notice this by the scores. Every day this team kept working, they deserve everything they have.''
Breanna Stewart added 15 rebounds and eight points for UConn (38-1). The two-time AP Player of the Year has saved her best games for the brightest lights.