Postcards From Indy - Day 4

5:30 PM - As we move on toward tomorrow's national title tilt, both Notre Dame and A&M will carry high hopes and new expectations with them. The Irish are making their third appearance in the title game and first since they won it all in 2001. A&M is making its first appearance. Both teams had to play league rivals for the fourth time to advance to Tuesday night's matchup and overcome a 3-0 season series deficit. The Aggies are led by senior forward Danielle Adams (#23) who averages 22.1 points and 8.5 rebounds. The Irish are led by sophomore sensation and guard Skylar Diggins (#4) who averages 14.8 points and 4.8 assists. Both were State Farm All-America selections in awards handed out on Saturday. Did You Know: Notre Dame and Texas A&M have met once before on Dec. 3, 1995 in the Kona Classic in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. A&M won 88-84 in overtime. Today's complete Notre Dame press conference is available on bigeast.org in both video form and in text. Here's our favorite line of the afternoon from coach McGraw: Q. In the BIG EAST, of course, it's almost been like an NCAA Tournament since the beginning of January. Some of the other big teams that went down did not really see that kind of diet. Is that helpful when you get to this point that maybe the change in competition, once you get higher up in the tournament really isn't all that much from what you've seen as opposed to other teams that may not have seen as much along the way? COACH MCGRAW: I don't think there's any question the BIG EAST is the best conference in basketball. What we had to go through this year to get where we are, I know Geno said it in the past, it's tougher to win the BIG EAST than it is sometimes to win the national tournament. I know for us, we came in third in the BIG EAST. We played so many good teams that were ranked, but it prepared us so well. I think the rigors of the schedule, night in and night out, really helped us, and when we came up against Oklahoma and Tennessee, I think we looked back and said, this is just like what we faced in the BIG EAST, so we were ready for it. Also, Maya Moore picked up yet another award at halftime of the A&M-Stanford game as she was named the NCAA Elite 88 Award for having the highest cumulative GPA average at the Final Four. Here are a few more bullet points from last night's magical game: - Entering Sunday, Notre Dame's largest lead against Connecticut this season was just six points (Jan. 8, 2011). Sunday night the Irish led by as many as 12. - UConn had gone 263 games without allowing an opponent to shoot over 50-percent; the Irish shot at a 51.9 clip. - Notre Dame and Texas A&M are both No. 2 seeds marking the first time since 1994 that a No. 1 seed will not play for the title. No. 3 North Carolina played No. 4 Louisiana Tech. - A ND win Tuesday would put Irish head coach Muffet McGraw in some elite company. Only four other coaches have won multiple national titles: Pat Summitt (Tennessee 8), Geno Auriemma (UConn 7), Linda Sharp (Southern California 2) and Tara VanDerveer (Stanford 2). From the postgame press conference: Q. There's been a lot of talk about the 2001 team, how it compares to this team. How much did it feel like tonight that 2001 semifinals knocking off UConn? COACH MCGRAW: The same, we weren't down as much. I think that team was down 16 before they came back to win the game. This team was down a little bit. But there have been a lot of parallels to that season. And the championship team sent a card to the hotel with each player and everybody associated with the team had a quote or something to say to the girls. And, you know, they really appreciated it. There was some really good stuff. And I think that tradition, carrying on that tradition was good for them.