LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With three final fours and two championship game appearances, the Louisville Cardinals women's basketball team has had its share of success over the past 10 years, and this season is no different, with the Cardinals undefeated heading into Thursday evening's match-up.
"The nice thing is that women sports are finally being recognized because for so long, they just haven't had the recognition that they deserve," Louisville fan Wendy Martin said.
The Cardinals are ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll, which ties their highest ranking, and they have a chance to take over the top spot with a win Thursday evening over the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, last year's national champions. But the Irish resume doesn't have many fans frightened, especially after last season.
"We beat Notre Dame twice last year," fan Debbie Copeland said. "We know we can do it."
For fans like Copeland, a season ticket holder for 20 years, Louisville women's basketball isn't just a hobby, it's a way of life, with fans even planning their vacations around the team's schedule.
"We schedule nights and other things to do whether there's a women's home game," she said.
"We went to St. Louis and watched the Final Four there, and New Orleans, went to North Carolina, watched the regionals there," Martin said.
For Martin, a former college basketball player at the University of Kentucky, she was drawn to the Louisville Cardinals by the way the young women play as a team and the camaraderie between the players, coaches and the fans, making the Wildcat bleed Cardinal red, though she said she still does root for Kentucky whenever the Wildcats play Louisville.
"Number one doesn't mean anything right now," she said. "It's that final game at the end of the season you look forward to."
"Whether we're number one or number two, it doesn't really matter," Martin said. "We know we're number one."
Neither Martin nor Copeland will be making the trip to South Bend Thursday evening, but there is one road trip they hope they'll be making this spring — to Tampa, Florida, for the Final Four.
The Cardinals take on top-ranked Notre Dame tonight at 7 p.m. Fans can watch the game on ESPN, or stream it on the WatchESPN app.