- The top-seeded NC State Wolfpack will face the No. 2 UConn Huskies in the Elite Eight Monday night.
- The game is taking place in Bridgeport, Conn. — a 1.5-hour drive from the Huskies’ campus.
- NC State superstar Elissa Cunane said “there’s no question” the matchup is “a home game for them.”
The UConn Huskies are playing for a trip to their 14th-consecutive Final Four Monday night.
And a favorable crowd may just help them get there.
Geno Auriemma’s second-seeded squad will face the No. 1 NC State Wolfpack at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., which is located roughly an hour and a half drive Southwest of UConn’s campus in Storrs. The crowd is sure to be filled with Huskies faithfully rooting on Paige Bueckers and company — much to the chagrin of NC State’s players and passionate fanbase.
“I think tomorrow is a home game for them,” Wolfpack superstar Elissa Cunane said Sunday. “There’s no question about that.”
But head coach Wes Moore and his 32-3 team have plenty of experience taking down opponents on their home floor. Both he and Cunane noted that NC State beat the South Carolina Gamecocks—this year’s top overall seed—at Colonial Life Arena just last season. A few weeks later, the Wolfpack upset the No. 1 Louisville Cardinals in Kentucky.
This year, NC State beat No. 6 Indiana in front of a raucous Hoosiers crowd in Bloomington and a top-25 North Carolina Tar Heels squad in Chapel Hill. In other words, the Wolfpack — who have won the ACC tournament three years running — know they’re “capable of beating a great team on their home court,” and they’re confident that they’ll be “capable of doing it” against UConn, Cunane said.
“No doubt that gives me confidence, so hopefully it gives them confidence,” Moore said of his players. “Connecticut fans are great. They love their women’s basketball. If I’m out somewhere traveling or something, I run into them, and they love their women’s basketball.”
“You’ve got to respect that,” he added.
Cunane, Moore, and company face know it’ll be a tough feat to outclass the now-healthy Huskies. Guard Raina Perez — the hero of NC State’s come-from-behind Sweet 16 victory — admitted that “it’s going to take a lot of hard work and grit” to advance to the Final Four, “especially because it’s UConn” standing in her team’s way.
Moore agreed, adding that Auriemma’s squad is “definitely one of the best teams in the country,” despite earning a No. 2 seed from the committee.
“They’ve got everybody back. They’re healthy. They’re playing extremely well,” he said. “Geno seems to always get them to peak at the right time, and they seem to be doing that… They’ve got a lot of weapons, a lot of people that can hurt you, and obviously he’s a great coach.”
“It’s a big challenge,” Moore added.
The Wolfpack and Huskies will tip off at 7 pm ET Monday with a trip to Minneapolis — and a Final Four matchup with the reigning champion Stanford Cardinal — on the line. Fans can watch it all unfold on ESPN.