via press release:
NCAA Women’s Final Four Coverage from Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.
National Semifinals on ESPN – Sunday, April 6: No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Maryland at 6:30 p.m. ET; No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 2 Stanford at 8:30 p.m.
National Championship on ESPN – Tuesday, April 8: Semifinal Game winners at 8:30 p.m.
All three games will also be available on WatchESPN
Final Four Coverage Plans
- 19th year of exclusive coverage on ESPN; 12th year covering all 63 games
- New this year is ‘ESPN3 Surround’ – an alternative viewing experience with different camera angles and natural audio sound from inside Bridgestone Arena
- ESPN analyst and former Connecticut standout Rebecca Lobo voiced over a feature on the Emergence of the UConn program that includes interviews with UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, hiring athletic director John Toner, former player Peggy Walsh Myers and current student-athlete Breanna Stewart
- An inside look at Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, including her rise at ND, how she transformed the program over the last 15 years, plus sound from ESPN analyst and former ND head coach Digger Phelps.
- Additional content to run throughout the weekend, include a look at Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike and sound from Maryland’s Lexie Brown and her father Dee Brown, a current NBA assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings
- Sense of Place feature – as seen regularly on ESPN College GameDay – highlights Nashville, its surroundings and history
- ESPN teamed with actress Connie Britton of ABC’s hit drama series “Nashville”, who covered “The Only Way I Know” – originally recorded by Jason Aldean featuring Luke Bryant and Eric Church
- Britton also shot a music video locally in Nashville which incorporates in-tournament highlights plus specialty shots of the four advancing teams and audio from top players and coaches
- ESPN3 will also carry the postgame celebration, trophy presentation and the net cutting
- Pregame locker room access, in-game head coach and halftime player interviews, along with on-set studio interviews with special guests
- In-arena studio presence with host Kevin Negandhi and analysts Kara Lawson and Lobo – in her first year as a studio host
- Dave O’Brien returns as the play-by-play announcer, and is joined by analyst Doris Burke and reporter Holly Rowe
- Reporter Bob Holtzman provides updates for SportsCenter live from Nashville
- Technologies used during the Final Four telecasts:
- A court-side telestrator used by the announce team is added to this year’s production
- NAC High-Motion camera that utilizes three-chip technology to produce greater light sensitivity and flicker reduction and can be used to record exceptional slow motion replays
- Brenda VanLengen, ESPN play-by-play announcer and analyst, operating an ART System (telestrator device) for the fourth consecutive year; it is also used on ESPN’s Monday Night Football and NBA telecasts
- Three Avid Media Composer suites in the media compound to support pre-production pieces
- 21 game cameras, with the ability to have 24 different positions, plus four cameras focused on the in-arena set
Accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the award-winning WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon FireTV. Additionally, ESPN3 will carry the post-game celebration live exclusively following the conclusion of the Championship game. WatchESPN is available in 67.5 million households nationwide to fans of an affiliated video provider, including AT&T U-verse® TV, Bright House Networks, Cablevision’s Optimum TV, Charter, Comcast Xfinity TV, Cox, DISH, Google Fiber, Midcontinent Communications, NRTC, Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS TV.
ESPN Final Four Commentators
Kevin Negandhi (Second-year host): Negandhi joined ESPN in September 2006 as an anchor for ESPNEWS and currently works the 9 a.m. edition of SportsCenter with Hannah Storm. He is in his second year as a women’s basketball studio host. Negandhi got his start covering women’s basketball while attending college at Temple, where he was a 1997 graduate.
Kara Lawson (Ninth-year analyst): Lawson is in her 11th year as an analyst for ESPN. She works men’s and women’s college basketball games and also as a studio analyst. Lawson led University of Tennessee to three straight Final Fours and was a two-time All-American. She won a gold medal with the 2008 U.S. Women’s Basketball Olympic Team in Beijing and will be entering her 12th season with the WNBA – winning a league title in 2005 and in her first year with the Washington Mystics.
Rebecca Lobo (First-year studio analyst; Seventh overall): Lobo joined ESPN in 2004 as a women’s college basketball and WNBA analyst. She won an NCAA Championship in 1995 with the University of Connecticut where she was a National Player of the Year and an All-American. In addition, Lobo won a gold medal with the 1996 U.S. Women’s Basketball Olympic Team during the Atlanta Olympics and played in the WNBA for seven seasons.
Doris Burke (Ninth-year game analyst; 12th overall): Burke began covering basketball for ESPN in 1991. She currently is an analyst on men’s and women’s college and NBA games, a sideline reporter for select telecasts and appears on the Wednesday editions of Kia NBA Countdown. Burke was a basketball player at Providence College and was named a NCAA 2012 Silver Anniversary Award recipient.
Dave O’Brien (Fifth-year play-by-play): O’Brien joined ESPN in 2002 as a play-by-play announcer and currently works Major League Baseball and college basketball telecasts. In 2010, O’Brien added the Women’s Final Four to his announcing responsibilities, and he previously worked NBA telecasts. He is also the radio play-by-play announcer for the Boston Red Sox. A Boston native, O’Brien attended Syracuse University.
Holly Rowe (Ninth-year reporter): Rowe began working ESPN telecasts in 1995, and joined on a regular-basis in 1998. She primarily covers college football, men’s and women’s basketball and softball as a reporter, as well as the NBA and WNBA. Rowe has also provided play-by-play commentary for women’s college basketball, softball and volleyball. She is a graduate of the University of Utah.
Bob Holtzman: Holtzman joined ESPN in 2000 as a reporter, primarily handling stories featured in the network’s award-winning news and information franchise – SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown, Outside the Lines, Baseball Tonight, NBA shows, ESPNEWS and others. Holtzman graduated from the University of Kansas.
The site will continue to highlight stories surrounding the Final Four, and certain aspects will be integrated into game telecasts:
- In-depth and on-site coverage of each team, including features and video analysis from Charlie Creme, Kate Fagan, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel
- ESPN’s Carolyn Peck and LaChina Robinson, as well as former LA Sparks star and US Gold Medalist Lisa Leslie, will use video to capture the sites and scenes around Nashville, including interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
- Twitter conversations through via @ESPN_WomenHoop, @espnW and the #NCAAWFF hashtag
- Tourney Snapshots includes team- and fan-submitted social media photos and video with behind-the-scenes access to teams, players and coaches (www.espnw.com/tourneyphotos)
- Women’s Final Four Live – a live chat throughout the semifinals and championship game, featuring tweets and analysis from ESPN’s analysts and espnW contributors
- Student-athlete bloggers include Stefanie Dolson (UConn), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford) and Chloe Pavlech (Maryland)
- Video interviews throughout the weekend: women’s basketball stars Tamika Catchings, Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner; musicians Ayla Brown (American Idol & former BC basketball player) and Grammy-nominated Carolyn Malachi, who will sing the National Anthem on Sunday; and Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker
- Continued coverage of UConn’s and Notre Dame’s “Pursuit of Perfection”
- Exclusive announcement Sunday of the Nancy Lieberman Award winner, including an interview with the top point guard
SportsCenter will present in-depth coverage of the NCAA Women’s Final Four with on-site set presence from Negandhi, Lawson and Lobo; SportsCenter reports from Holtzman and the airing of NCAA Women’s Final Four specific features.
ESPN International networks will offer the national semifinals and title game to fans on ESPN2 Australia, ESPN Brazil HD, ESPN Caribbean, ESPN Latin North, ESPN Tres North, ESPN Tres South and ESPN UK.
ESPNFrontRow.com – for the third straight year – will provide behind-the-scenes features centered on ESPN’s coverage of the Women’s Final Four. Highlights include a chat with Lobo on the Birth of UConn feature; behind-the-scene photo gallery and more.
Women’s Final Four Specials
NCAA Women’s Final Four Special Presented by Capital One: The 30-minute Women’s Final Four preview show will be hosted by Negandhi with analysts Lawson and Lobo from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville will precede the National Semifinals Sunday, April 6, at 6 p.m. on ESPN and WatchESPN.
College Basketball Live: Women’s National Championship Special: The 90-minute special, hosted by Matt Schick and analysts Nell Fortner and Brooke Weisbrod, on Tuesday, April 9, at 6 p.m. on ESPNU and WatchESPN will highlight and preview the Women’s National Championship title game.
NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital One: ESPN and WatchESPN will tip off the National Championship game coverage with an hour-long preview special, also hosted by Negandhi, Lawson and Lobo, from Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m.
NCAA Division I Women’s Final Four Schedule (subject to change)
|Sun, Apr 6||6 p.m.||NCAA Women’s Final Four Special Presented by Capital OneKevin Negandhi, Kara Lawson & Rebecca Lobo||ESPN / WatchESPN|
|6:30 p.m.||National Semifinal Game 1 (Nashville, Tenn.): No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Maryland Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke & Holly Rowe||ESPN / WatchESPN|
|9 p.m.||National Semifinal Game 2 (Nashville, Tenn.): No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 2 Stanford||ESPN / WatchESPN|
|Tue, Apr 8||6 p.m.||College Basketball Live: NCAA Women’s Championship Special||ESPNU / WatchESPN|
|7:30 p.m.||NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital OneKevin Negandhi, Kara Lawson & Rebecca Lobo||ESPN / WatchESPN|
|8:30 p.m.||National Final (Nashville, Tenn.)Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke & Holly Rowe||ESPN / WatchESPN|
ESPN.com’s Women’s Tournament Challenge
Several statistics highlight ESPN.com’s Women’s Tournament Challenge and the teams that advanced to the Final Four.
- Only two percent of Women’s Tournament Challenge brackets got all four Women’s Final Four teams correct
- 43.8 percent of brackets got three of four teams in the Women’s Final Four
- President Obama’s bracket currently sits in the 97.3 percentile. He got three of the Final Four teams’ correct, missing only Maryland. He also had seven of the eight Elite Eight teams correct.
- Percent of brackets picking the national champion:
- Connecticut: 57.0 percent; Notre Dame: 19.9 percent; Stanford: 3.0 percent and Maryland: 0.5 percent
- Percent of brackets picking each team to reach the national title game:
- Connecticut: 79.7 percent; Notre Dame: 61.2 percent; Stanford: 7.0 percent and Maryland: 1.4 percent
ESPN Classic will feature a marathon on Sunday, April 6, with six recent Women’s Final Four games that each includes at least one team in this year’s national semifinals. The 2012 National Championship featuring Connecticut and Stanford will be aired at 12:30 p.m. – a matchup that will be repeated in the second national semifinal Sunday.
ESPN Classic NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Schedule
|Sun, Apr 6||7 a.m.||2002 NCAA National Championship: Connecticut vs. Oklahoma|
|9 a.m.||2009 NCAA National Championship: Connecticut vs. Louisville|
|10:30 a.m.||2010 NCAA National Semifinal: Connecticut vs. Baylor|
|12:30 p.m.||2010 NCAA National Championship: Connecticut vs. Stanford|
|2:30 p.m.||2012 NCAA National Semifinal: Baylor vs. Stanford|
|4 p.m.||2012 NCAA National Championship: Baylor vs. Notre Dame|