DENVER — All season long, Baylor has been the best team led by the best player in the country. And that just makes the stakes in Tuesday night's NCAA championship a little higher.
Anything short of a women's national title would be deemed a failure for Brittney Griner and her Lady Bears.
That may explain why Baylor hasn't focused on an undefeated season, nor on becoming the first team in NCAA history to win 40 games. Griner and her teammates just want to win the school's second title.
Standing in the way is Notre Dame, a team on a mission ever since losing in last year's championship to Texas A&M and sparked by maybe the nation's second-most dynamic player, All-American Skylar Diggins.
The tournament's top seed against No. 2. Just the way the selection committee drew it up.
"40-0 was never really the goal," said Griner at a news conference Monday. "We have team goals each year and our goal was to win a national championship.
"If you lose, you can't win a national championship. You've got to go 40-0 now."
Griner knows that despite the Lady Bears' incredible season, how it's judged will depend on Tuesday night.
"We don't have that ring yet," the 6-foot-8 junior phenom said. "That's the main goal. Until we get that, we're going to feel like we haven't really done anything."
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Baylor (39-0) vs. Notre Dame (35-3)
Tonight, 6:30 p.m.