McGraw on why rivalry with UConn is heated: "A lack of respect"

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It's undefeated Notre Dame versus undefeated UConn for the women's basketball national championship Tuesday night in Nashville.

The stakes can't get any higher but the hype did on Monday as head coaches Muffet McGraw and Geno Auriemma added fuel to the fire in women's basketball's biggest rivalry.

Notre Dame and UConn are in different conferences for the first time this year and will meet for the first time this season for the national title. That's a big change from a year ago, when they met a total of four times.

The reasons for why a regular season matchup could not be agreed upon probably helped raise the tensions between the two sides. McGraw contends that UConn avoided a battle with the Irish.

Auriemma responded a few weeks back, "it’s not nice to fib during Lent."

Auriemma didn't deliver any classic Geno quotes on Sunday night after UConn beat Stanford to setup the showdown with ND. When a reporter referenced that Auriemma was being a good boy in his presser the night before, McGraw responded Monday, "That's a first."

It was on from there.

"Oh it's heated," McGraw said when I asked how heated the rivalry has become. "I don't think there's any question its the most intense rivalry we've ever been involved with."

So what's allowed it to reach this point? The close games? The personalities of the two coaches?

"I think it's the lack of respect," McGraw said. "That's the biggest thing. I think its the heated intensity of the game, the bragging rights that go along with the wins--I think its a lot of those things."

And once Geno was asked about Muffet's comments, he couldn't hold himself back.

"Sometimes we act like girls, like we're supposed to go to dinner every night," Auriemma responded. "We're supposed to play each other, try to beat each other's brains in, try to win a National Championship and compete like hell, Muffet and Geno, and then we're supposed to get together afterwards and go have a bottle of wine. That's just not going to happen. So, stop asking us why it doesn't happen."

Notre Dame has won 7 of the last nine meetings in the series after UConn dominated the matchup for more than a decade, but the Huskies took the last battle in last year's Final Four and went on to win the national title.


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