STORRS, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson could only sit on the bench and watch the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's national championship game win over Syracuse last April after breaking a bone in her left foot two days earlier.
The Huskies' sophomore guard didn't have to wait all that long to get a shot at the Orange.
"It's cool to have a chance to play them again," Samuelson said Sunday. "But really it's an opportunity to play another real good team. We'll be excited for it and ready to go."
The top-seeded Huskies go for their 24th straight NCAA tournament Sweet 16 appearance Monday when they entertain No. 8 Syracuse in a Bridgeport Regional second-round game at Gampel Pavilion. Tip off is at 6:35 p.m. It's a rematch of last year's final won by UConn 82-51 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Huskies (33-0), winners of 108 straight games, advanced with a 116-55 rout of Albany on Saturday, while the Orange (22-10) jumped out to a 25-point first-quarter lead against Iowa State and coasted to an 85-65 victory.
"We know that they're an aggressive and tough team," UConn forward Napheesa Collier said. "We have to come out really hard right from the start. They want to play at 100 miles per hour. We need to control the tempo and play our style of basketball."
UConn has dominated the series with its former Big East rival, winning 24 consecutive games since falling 62-59 on Jan. 2, 1996.
But in only one of those games -- last year's final -- have the Orange had senior guards Alexis Peterson and Brittney Sykes. Peterson was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year earlier this month and is among the nation's leaders in points, assists and steals. Sykes is second on Syracuse in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals. The school bills them as "the best backcourt in the country."
"Heck yeah," Sykes said. "We've been saying it all season. I don't think that if somebody asks you that question you are going to go, 'No, I think they're better.' If you don't think that you're the best player ever, and even if you think you're wrong, you should have that type of confidence. Credit to Coach Q (Quentin Hillsman) for putting that in our heads at the beginning of the season that we're America's best backcourt."
UConn may not have the best backcourt in the country, but junior Kia Nurse is 103-0 as a starter and the Huskies are 149-1 since senior Saniya Chong arrived. Between them, they have five national championship rings.
"I think everybody is going to say that their backcourt is the best in the country," Nurse said. "In terms of ours, I think we have a really complete backcourt. We have somebody in Lou who can knock down threes lights out. Saniya does a great job of play making, taking care of the ball, and she can shoot the ball well, too. And I do what I do, so obviously we have a great backcourt, as well."
Nurse had her best game Saturday since returning from a stress reaction in her right ankle that cost her the final four games of the regular season. The Hamilton, Ontario, native had 24 points and made 6-of-7 shots from 3-point land in the win over Albany.
She got plenty of help as the Huskies placed five in double figures with Collier (24 points, 10 rebounds) and Gabby Williams (20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five steals) recording double-doubles.
Syracuse's guards got a boost Saturday when freshman Gabby Cooper, a 26.6 percent shooter from behind the arc, made 8-of-15 from 3-point land for a season high 24 points. Sykes (28), Peterson (25) and Cooper combined for all but eight of the Orange's points.
"They will shoot from anywhere and they have quick releases on their shots so they can catch you off guard," Williams said. "Teams that can hit threes can get themselves back into a game really quickly. We have to watch for that as well as their guards penetrating.
"They want to get up a lot of shots, they want to run the floor, they want it to be fast paced. We're going to have to make them play defense and make them play at a tempo we want."
The Orange have taken 42.7 percent of their shots from behind the arc. They are shooting 30.8 percent after going 15-for-29 against Iowa State.
"When you look at a team's style of play, you look at what it is that they do that presents a challenge," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Obviously a big part of their offense is how many threes they get up."
The Huskies are defending the 3-point line at 26.7 percent. In last year's national championship game, Syracuse went 2-for-19 from long distance. Of course, the Huskies won't have Moriah Jefferson, the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, working on the perimeter Monday night.
"They can knock down the three and they are quick and smart," Nurse said. "So it's going to be a full team defensive emphasis making sure we maintain, keep them in front, and try to limit as many shots as we can."
UConn and Syracuse have four common opponents -- DePaul, Florida State, Notre Dame -- and Ohio State. The Huskies are 4-0 against the group with an average margin of victory of 19.3 points while the Orange are 0-4 with an average margin of defeat of 13.3 points.
Also, UConn is 12-4 in rematches of the previous season's national championship game.
The UConn-Syracuse winner will face either fifth-seeded Texas A&M or No. 4 UCLA on Saturday in the Sweet 16 at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena. The Bruins entertain the Aggies at Pauley Pavilion on Monday night.
The Huskies will not get ahead of themselves.
"It's interesting," Nurse said. "Obviously it was a great game last year to play in. Now they're just the next team that is in front of us. We're focusing on practice and what we have to do to be successful (Monday night)."