Connecticut's run at destiny and a second consecutive NCAA title rounded into the final turn Monday with the announcement of the NCAA brackets. Now, apparently, all that's left for the Huskies is to play a few more games, stand under the confetti and hoist a trophy.
But if the ending seems predestined -- and good luck trying to find somebody who is willing to pick anyone else as the national champion -- the road may just be more interesting than the season that preceded it.
Because let's face it, for most of this season, for all the times the Huskies were on TV, you knew you could watch the first five minutes and the last two and find out everything you needed to know.
The Huskies travel to Norfolk, Virginia, to open NCAA play, making a rare trip outside of Connecticut for the opening rounds.
Maryland, USC, Syracuse Among Those On Outside Looking in
This will be the first time since 2006 that Connecticut hasn't opened tournament play in the Nutmeg State. And this will be the first time in 22 years that the Huskies won't play any part of the tournament in their home state
After what will likely be a first-round drubbing of No. 16 seed Southern, Connecticut could face an old friend in Temple coach Tonya Cardoza, a former Huskies assistant coach. Temple would need to beat James Madison in the first round to set up the matchup.
Iowa State could potentially be waiting in the Sweet 16 in Dayton, and it would be fascinating to see if Bill Fennelly again employs his "let-their-best-player-get-theirs-and-shut-everybody-else-down" strategy he tried against Stanford last year in the Elite Eight, a game plan that resulted in Jayne Appel's 46-point game and a Cardinal trip to St. Louis.
But who would Fennelly pick, Tina Charles or Maya Moore?
Next up is a potential regional final gainst Geno Auriemma's old friend, Jim Foster, and Ohio State, playing an hour's drive from Columbus.
And then the fun begins.
Because if a national championship showdown with Stanford has been the most expected matchup of the season, the most anticipated is a national semifinal date with Tennessee in San Antonio.
The selection committee chose Nebraska over Tennessee as the third No. 1 seed behind Stanford and aligned the stars for a Huskies-Vols showdown at the Alamo.
We've missed it so: Pat and Geno at microphones, talking about one another, not talking about one another. We've been deprived too long, the opportunity to analyze the body language of pregame and postgame handshakes and maybe -- just maybe -- a good game?
Connecticut and Tennessee haven't played each other since Jan. 6, 2007. Pat Summitt called off their regular-season series after the hotly contested-turned-bitter recruitment of Moore.
Summitt reiterated this weekend to the Hartford Courant that she has not reconsidered renewing the series.
So it appears that only the NCAA brackets will bring Auriemma and Summitt back together.
Tennessee (30-2) can't afford to look too far down the line to this game. After all, this is a team that lost in the first round of the tournament last year.
"They made history in a bad way, so now I think they want to make history in a good way," Summitt said after Monday night's selection.
But it's been too long since Tennessee and Connecticut played one another. The game has been denied its most intriguing game for three long, blowout-filled years. Could Tennessee give Connecticut a game? Are the Vols still too young to be able to do the job?
While Connecticut has run through virtually every one of the big name programs in the country in the last few years, how they would do against Summitt and the Vols has been a question of theory. Can't wait to find out.
It does. On paper, Stanford has the best chance of ending Connecticut's winning streak and bringing a little balance back to an entire sport. But the Cardinal can't afford to play only one good half -- as they did on Dec. 23 in Hartford, an 80-68 UConn victory -- or even a half and a half. They can't afford foul trouble or a passive game by Appel. They can't afford guards who can't hit shots or defend the dribble penetration.
The second-best team in the country all season will have to play a practically perfect game to get in the way of destiny.
Practically perfect. That's Connecticut's game. And that's why -- for all the fun matchups, potential upsets and great individual performances -- we are probably looking at a coronation.