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So, I’d posit that upsets in the Sweet Sixteen are less likely, especially if you’ve had upsets in the 32, simply because the disparity in talent (on the court – height and speed in particular) is still wonky in the women’s game. But, that didn’t stop Maryland and North Carolina. And BYU sure gave it a shot.

BYU was composed and confident and UConn was out of sorts in the first half but, eventually, the Huskies got their act together and dismissed the Cougars, 70-51.

The Terps looked as if they belonged and Alyssa was dominant. Tennessee was unimaginative on defense and single-minded on offense. The result? The #1 Vols go down, 73-62, and Maryland moves on.

The Carolinas engaged in a messy, physical game. The Gamecocks couldn’t pull it together in the last few minutes, and so the most questioned #1 seed goes home, and North Caroline keeps on dancin’.

While the Tar Heels battled, Stanford breezed. Penn State’s Maggie Lucas was stifled by a Cardinal team that was hitting on all cylinders. Chiney is the engine that’s making Stanford roar. Lions go down, 82-57.

Speaking of engines, Shoni demonstrated her growth over the last four years, playing with what Graham called “poise and efficiency.” (My friend Jeff LOVED being court side for the game, listening to Walz coach.) It also guaranteed her one more home game as Louisville overwhelmed a short-handed, but game, LSU, 73-47.

Live by the three, die by the three” met “We don’t take no stinkin’ threes” — but it was the Aggies defense that won them the game. DePaul’s high power offense never got going, and TAMU cruised, 84-65.

BTW: Kudos the the Nebraska faithful. They’ve turned out to support women’s basketball.

Saturday’s announced attendance for the two Sweet 16 games was 9,585, highest in this year’s NCAA women’s tournament. It obviously helps to have top-ranked Connecticut in town. Folks no doubt were curious to get a close look at the Huskies (A bit underwhelming Saturday, were they not?)

The strong attendance, though, also is a reflection of how well this state supports women’s basketball and women’s athletics in general, as Darnell Dickson points out in his Sunday column.

Baylor was not interested in making the game interesting and neither, it seemed, was Kentucky. Bears over the Wildcats, 90-72, and we get more chances to admire Sims in action.

Notre Dame put the pedal to the metal in the first half, and kept the Cowgirls corralled in the second, winning 89-72. The Irish are looking balanced and fierce.

Mechelle writes: Regional finalists truly elite group – Field includes ACC trio; seven of eight teams have won an NCAA title

Monday on ESPN (Elite Eight coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET), unbeaten Notre Dame and Connecticut will try to secure their tickets to Nashville. The Irish are seeking their fourth consecutive Final Four berth, UConn its seventh in a row.

Their challengers are both recent champions. At Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish take on No. 2 seed Baylor (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET) in the only regional where the top two seeds made it to the final. The Lady Bears won the 2012 national championship, and were a good pick to repeat last year before being upset by Louisville.

The Huskies meet No. 3 seed Texas A&M (ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET) in Lincoln, Neb. The Aggies won the 2011 title, but like Baylor the subsequent year, they did not beat UConn in the Final Four. In both 2011 and ’12, Notre Dame took out the Huskies in the national semifinals before falling in the final.

From Charlie:

Getting ahead: Previewing Baylor vs. Notre Dame

Only two teams with worse seeds won games in the Notre Dame Regional to this point, so it no surprise that No. 1 seed Notre Dame and second-seeded Baylor meet Monday night (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET) with a trip to Nashville and the Final Four at stake.

The game features two great offenses, three of the best players in the country in Baylor’s Odyssey Sims and Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride and Jewell Loyd, and programs that have combined for five Final Fours appearances since 2010, including a meeting in the 2012 national championship game.

Here are five observations heading into what could be the most explosive of all the Elite Eight games:

More on the battle of the Gold and Green:

From the AP: Odyssey Sims tries to reach one last Final Four with Baylor Lady Bears

Chris Goff, Journal Gazette: Irish will test ways to control Baylor’s superstar and Irish fans will bid adieu to 3 seniors

Curt Rallo continues a theme: Notre Dame women’s team targets Baylor point guard

I think that (Sims) creates so many problems for you because when she attacks and gets in the lane, you focus on her, which is what a lot of people did last year with Skylar (Diggins),” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think the problem is that you focus on her and you forget about the other people and they put themselves in great positions to score.”

Curt also mentions that Payback is low on Notre Dame’s priorities

Notre Dame is 0-4 all-time against Baylor, the team standing between the Irish and a fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four. The Bears, featuring 6-foot-8 national Player of the Year Brittney Griner, beat Notre Dame 80-61 in the 2012 national championship game. Then on Dec. 5, 2012, Baylor beat the Irish, 73-61, the last time Notre Dame has walked off its home court on the short side of the scoreboard.

Reaching the Final Four is the main task on Monday night, but the Irish are trying to channel the energy that a payback game provides into the right direction.

As UConn prepares for Texas A&M, Mechelle writes: Discipline key to UConn’s success

… this year isn’t the first time that a great Huskies team didn’t have all that much depth. It’s been the case before, and the hope of forcing UConn starters to the bench with foul trouble has been floated in the past. It’s a wish by opponents that almost never gets fulfilled.

The Huskies are trained very rigorously not to foul. That takes good athleticism, yes. But it’s just as much about playing smart and — you guessed it — being disciplined.

“The minute you smack somebody, all of your hard work is negated,” Auriemma said in regard to playing solid defense, only to end up sending a foe to the line with a mistake out of bad judgment or frustration. “After a while, they understand that, ‘If I want to stay in the game, I can’t foul.’

TAMU is hoping for for one magic night against undefeated UConn

“They’ve got five future WNBA first-round choices in their starting lineup. That’s how good they are,” Blair said Sunday. “But for 40 minutes Monday night, why not? Why not? … I like my team, I like our chances.”

There’s more (thanks Nan!):

Low anxiety: UConn women don’t feel Final Four pressure, Post
UConn women’s game day: Monday night vs. Texas A&M, Post
UConn Offers Glimpse Of Future As It Contemplates Present Vs. A&M, Courant
UConn vs. Texas A&M, Courant
Chris Dailey, Quizmaster, Keeps Team Engaged, Courant
UConn’s Jefferson, Texas A&M’s Jones excited to face off in Elite 8, Register
Texas A&M assistant Bob Starkey helped hand UConn its last loss in Elite 8, Register
UConn women face Texas A&M in Elite Eight tonight, Day
KML is keeping the art of shooting alive, Day
UConn to play A&M for a shot at the Final Four, Daily Campus
Perfect UConn looms in Elite 8, Texas A&M The Battalion
A&M looks to play the role of spoiler against 37-0 UConn, AggieSports.com
They’ve been known to do the impossible, but beating UConn will be tougher, AggieSports.com

Charlie is Looking ahead: Louisville vs. Maryland preview

Many felt Louisville was underseeded at No. 3 and now the Cardinals, after easily disposing of LSU on Sunday, have reached the precipice of a second straight Final Four anyway. On Tuesday, they get that chance at home at the KFC Yum! Center against No. 4 seed Maryland (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET).

The Terps, who haven’t been to the Final Four since winning a national championship in 2006, had little trouble with No. 1 seed Tennessee in their regional semifinal.

Here are five observations of the two teams in what sets up to be an evenly matched Elite Eight contest:

Check out espnW’s Elite Eight picks.

 

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Arkansas….

Really? Jimmy Dykes?

The WBCA offered up a “Slap and see” response.

“Arkansas’s decision to hire someone who has not coached basketball in 23 years is disappointing to the multitude of more-than-qualified coaches who are members of our association. 

**

If the Arkansas administration believes Jimmy Dykes, because of his celebrity, his ties to the university, and to the Fayetteville community, is the best person to reinvigorate support for and fan interest in Razorback women’s basketball, then we will not second guess them from afar.

Queenie’s having fun on twitter: 

As the other ESPNW folks make nice to their friend and former colleague,  Mechelle tweets:

Been thinking what to say about Jimmy Dykes’ hiring for Arkansas WBB. I’ll go with this: stunning. So I guess that was Arkansas’ goal?

The Rebkellians, some very much in the know, react.

Perhaps he’ll prove me wrong — I can only hope, for the sake of the players – but I instantly flashed back to the hiring of Wendell Hudson by Alabama. There are choices that make you say, “Hey, that’s thinking outside of the box!” (think Sherri Coale, Rick Insell, Kim Barnes Arico) and then there’s  choices that have you thinking, “We’re a football program, let’s keep women’s basketball in a box.”

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It’s basketball time!

TN/MD:

From the WaPo’s Gene Wagn: Terps see a ‘pretty even matchup’ with top-seeded Lady Vols

From the Diamondback: Women’s basketball looks forward to playing powerhouse Tennessee in Sweet 16

From the Baltimore Sun: After ‘limping’ to Sweet 16 in 2013, Terps women now healthy enough to charge ahead

The AP has: Lady Vols’ Simmons eyes elusive Final Four berth

Dan Fleser adds: Lady Vols hit the NCAA road as experienced travelers

While the Daily Beacon writes: ‘Battle-tested’ Lady Vols look to advance against Maryland

LSU/LOU:

From the AP: Seventh-seeded LSU faces No. 3 seed Louisville

Louisville knows that LSU will be a different team than the one it routed in November.

Not only do the seventh-seeded Tigers (21-12) enter Sunday’s regional semifinal confident following their second-round upset of No. 2 seed West Virginia, they’re unfazed by losing Jeanne Kenney and Raigyne Moncrief to injury in each of their NCAA tournament victories.

Louisville coach Jeff Walz quickly notes how LSU has overcome that adversity, an important fact he hopes his third-seeded Cardinals (32-4) remember because the Lady Tigers are hungry to prove they can play through their obstacles.

Times-Picayune: LSU women’s basketball draws on its past NCAA Tournament experience against Louisville

From the Monroe Star: LSU women limp to Louisville as we hear that a Concussion ends Jeanne Kenney’s career at LSU

From the Courier-Journal: Louisville coach Walz: Early win over LSU means nothing

Oh, and no surprise, a Big crowd is expected

PSU/STAN

From Walt Moody at the Centre Daily Times: Lady Lions take on Stanford in NCAA regional semifinal

To look at the numbers, the task would seem tall for the Penn State women’s — like Mount Everest tall.

Beating Stanford on its home court in the NCAA Tournament rarely happens.

The Pittsburg-Post Gazette’s Mark Dent writes: Familiar situation yet again for Penn State women

 

The AP’s Jane McCauley notes: Stanford’s VanDerveer offers tips to Penn State

For each of the past two summers, Penn State coach Coquese Washington has visited Tara VanDerveer at the Stanford coach’s New York home to talk basketball and, specifically, gather tips on the triangle offense.

“It’s almost like going to graduate school of coaching in six hours,” Washington said with a smile.

Rick Eymer from Palo Alto Online writes: Stanford, Penn State prepare for their Sweet 16 meeting

No surprise, Chiney is Excited to Be Back at Stanford

From Eliot Allmond: Stanford freshman Thompson hits the court running

A year ago, guard Lili Thompson was filling out NCAA brackets and watching games on television like many women’s basketball fans.

Sunday, Stanford is counting on the freshman when the second-seeded Cardinal (31-3) faces No. 3 Penn State in the Sweet 16 at Maples Pavilion.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Thompson said Saturday.

Elliot also notes, it’s a Bittersweet 16 for Stanford women: Ogwumike era winding down

With Ogwumike expected to follow her sister as a No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft next month, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said, “Don’t worry about Chiney. Worry about us.”

Chiney, a 6-foot-4-inch forward with a personality as big as her game, will leave atop Stanford’s Mt. Rushmore of women’s basketball as the Pac-12 Conference’s career-scoring and -rebounding leader. With 2,673 points and 1,532 rebounds, and counting, she passed former Stanford stars Candice Wiggins and Kayla Pedersen in those categories, respectively.

Marcus Thompson II writes: 

For a program that’s been to five of the last six Final Fours, there’s a sense of urgency present among the Stanford women.

Star forward Chiney Ogwumike is closing her stellar career. And unlike in past years, the Cardinal doesn’t have a clear candidate to carry the torch for the storied program. The string of elite players Stanford has enjoyed looks to be on the brink of disruption.

So might Stanford’s tradition of dominance.

UNC/USC

Yup, Gamecocks Take on North Carolina Tar Heels in Sweet 16

Since UNC handed South Carolina its first loss early in the season, both teams have improved. The Gamecocks have gelled offensively after making an increased commitment to taking advantage of the athleticism in the post provided by Aleighsa Welch, Alaina Coates, and Elem Ibiam. The Tar Heels, like many young teams, have begun showing flashes of greatness late in the season, although the ugly first half against Tennessee-Martin suggests they still have streaks of bad basketball in them.

Tara’s not just mentoring Co. Writes Ann Killion at the SF Gate: VanDerveer passed on coaching’s golden rules to Staley

The Stanford women’s basketball team is back in the familiar comfort of Maples Pavilion. But one thing about this postseason isn’t so comfortable: The Cardinal are not the top seed in their own regional.

That distinction belongs to South Carolina, which has the first No. 1 seed in the history of its program. If the top two seeds meet in the regional final Tuesday night, it will be a matchup of old friends. Of mentor and protege.

Grace Raynor at the Daily Tar Heel: UNC women’s basketball team will face South Carolina in California

It hurts, North Carolina forward Xylina McDaniel said.

To see the emotion on her face, to feel the hurt in the undertones of her voice when she speaks, to know that after months of leukemia treatments and weeks in the hospital, Sylvia Hatchell is so close — yet still so far away.

With each day that passes, with each game that is played with Hatchell still sidelined, the only thing the North Carolina women’s basketball team has known to do is play in her honor. To hope — and to keep winning.

Speaking of coach, from Mike Potter at the Charlotte Observer: UNC women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell gives Tar Heels Final Four motivation

Ryan Wood says USC is ready for Payback against UNC

Michelle Smith writes: Carolinas are ready to battle it out

The Gamecocks now find themselves in a position to alter their own world in an impactful way, coming into the Stanford Regional as a No. 1 seed with a chance to earn a trip to the NCAA Final Four for the first time in school history.

So the question is, can the Gamecocks tap into their mantra of change on the court as well and defeat fourth-seeded North Carolina Sunday to advance to their first regional final?

And, yes, the Buzzing Tar Heels rely on DeShields in Sweet 16 round and USC knows Stopping UNC rookie DeShields a tough task

“You can take away something but then I’m pretty well-rounded,” DeShields said. “I feel like once you take one thing, I’ll just go do something else. If you put a short guard on me, a quick guard, then I’ll just go post up. If you put a long wing on me, and I’ll go by them.

“You know, certain players are just going to do what they do. You can only hope to contain them – and I’m blessed to have people say that about me.”

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First and foremost, a huge shout out to Barb Stevens and her Bentley University team. Not only did they earn the Division II crown, they went undefeated, AND they came back from 9 down with less than six minutes to go.

With her team down nine points with 51⁄2 minutes left in the NCAA Division 2 championship game, Bentley coach Barbara Stevens allowed herself a moment of consolation.

“I had a fleeting thought looking up at the clock at one point where I said, ‘OK, it’s been a good season,’ ” Stevens said.

It was about to get much, much better.

****

“We looked at each other with six minutes left and knew we had to give it everything we had,” grad student Courtney Finn said. “We had our backs against the wall and really had nothing to lose down nine points. We had six minutes left in our careers and we had to give it everything we had.”

That’s  No. 917 for coach Stevens – and her first national championship.

“I can’t tell you what a tremendous ride this has been for our coaching staff and the Bentley community,” said Stevens. “What a ride for these young ladies and proud of them doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. We’ve gone through so much together and they are truly champions.”

From John Dudley at the Erie-Times News:

The banner above Barbara Stevens in Bentley’s small sea of blue Friday night at Erie Insurance Arena read “Finished Business.”

Some business takes longer to finish.

Stevens, Division II women’s basketball’s winningest coach, finally won a title on her second try 37 seasons into what’s already been a Hall of Fame career.

The last 28 of those seasons have been with the Falcons, with whom she’s been to nine NCAA semifinals, two finals and, now, one mountaintop.

Not such good news for two coaches: Rhode Island is looking for a new leader, as is Minnesota. Rhodie looking of a new boss was not surprising, but for some, Borton’s firing was. Not for those around the program, though.

Jonathan Hawthorne writes: Paul Westhead’s time with Oregon women’s basketball inconsistent but impactful

The team, who was saddened by the news of his departure from Eugene, clearly enjoyed his style of play and mentorship.

“To play for a coach like him, who’s coached NBA players and won championships, it’s probably the highlight of my career because he has taught me so much,” Jillian Alleyne said after the game. “He taught me ultimately to believe in myself, that I can be any kind of player I want to be. So it’s been a great honor and a great pleasure.”

Speaking of coaches in unhappy situations, Kate Fagan dives into the rabbit hole that is the she said/she said of BU’s Kelly Greenberg: Two Distinct Portraits of Greenberg

Kristen Sims, a former Boston University women’s basketball player, remembers how head coach Kelly Greenberg supported her unconditionally before and after her knee surgery, taking Sims to doctor’s appointments and constantly checking in to see whether she needed anything.

Jacy Schulz, another former BU player, remembers the time she entered Greenberg’s office and the coach placed a box of Kleenex on the desk to signal what was to come. “She said I was a waste of life, and that I should never have been born,” Schulz told espnW.com.

Both Sims and Schulz speak with the conviction that comes from personal experience. This is exactly how it happened for me. And according to more than a dozen interviews conducted with former BU players, each of the above interactions reflects the dramatically divergent experiences of the young women who have played for Greenberg over the years.

Joan Venocchi at the Boston Globe writes: A bully, or a booster

Who’s the real Kelly Greenberg?

The two sides to her story sound like parallel worlds of a college hoops universe.

From Allie Grasgreen at Inside Higher Ed: Equal Opportunity Bullying

It’s clear that bullying and emotional abuse by coaches of any gender has deep roots. But several complaints and lawsuits in recent months focused more attention on behavior that people would historically expect to see more from men.

In WNBA news:

You stay put:  Atlanta Dream re-signs All-Star C Erika de Souza after career-best season

You also stay put: Quigley & Warley Re-sign with Chicago and Sun Sign Hightower, Greene

You go back: Katie Douglas leaving Fever as for Sun

You come here: Fever announce signing of Marissa Coleman and Sky sign free-agent forward Breland

Will you come here? Phoenix Mercury today acquired the rights to Polish center Ewelina Kobryn from the Seattle Storm in exchange for forward Charde Houston

And yah, WNBA Makes If Official: 2014 Draft At Mohegan Sun On April 14

WATN? Kelly Mazzante: Mazzante’s return to Hershey for state finals brought back a lot of memories; and not all were good-The former Montoursville High and Penn State star worked the state basketball finals for PCN.

WATN? Keri Chaconas: Former WNBA player settles in Huntersville

Holm grew up in northern Virginia, where she began playing basketball at a young age. Her prowess in the sport as a prep player landed her a scholarship at George Mason, her home school, in 1992.

She took advantage of the opportunity.

While Holm didn’t get a chance to play in an NCAA tournament game during her time with the Patriots, she almost single-handedly vaulted George Mason into a contender for the Colonial Athletic Association title.

Holm’s success as a 3-point shooter – her 218 treys have her tops in school history – helped drive George Mason to the CAA championship game in 1994, where the Patriots fell to powerhouse Old Dominion and their star freshman Ticha Penicheiro, 78-61.

From the AP’s Paul Newberrry: Szabados inspiring but women deserve more

 

But the fact that Szabados’ only real playing option after Canada’s thrilling victory was to sign on with the low-level Southern Professional Hockey League shows just how far women’s sports still lags behind, despite all the progress in the last four decades under Title IX.

At the very least, Szabados and so many other female athletes deserve leagues of their own.

Outside of the WNBA, there’s virtually no conduit for women to make a decent wage in North American team sports after their high school and college careers are over. That’s why Szabados eagerly joined the SPHL for a few games, even though some viewed it as nothing more than a publicity stunt for a team averaging less than 3,000 fans a game. That’s why Jen Welter – all 5-foot-2, 130 pounds of her – is playing in a men’s football league, taking on guys more than twice her size.

They have no choice, their options are limited.

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Yes, I’ll admit it — I woke up, had a cup of coffee, and “Basketball Jones!” popped into my head.

Nate has 2014 his NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 predictions: DePaul, North Carolina, Texas A&M are teams to watch

While I previewed the Sweet 16 by looking at a few of the top WNBA prospects still playing, I threw out a few questions to other bloggers around SB Nation who cover women’s basketball. Today we begin with a set of questions I asked the writers who have been covering the tournament for Swish Appeal.

From Mechelle: Storylines abound in Sweet 16 – Regional semifinals tip off on ESPN at noon ET Saturday in the Notre Dame region

Graham is Previewing a very Sweet 16

Welcome to the tournament within the tournament, the roped-off section of the postseason club that is the Sweet 16.

Getting to the tournament in the first place is a big deal. Just as it’s not easy to get to base camp on Mount Everest, it’s not easy to get to the starting line of the NCAA tournament. And once there, it only gets more difficult with each step.

Reaching the second week, when the basketball summit really starts to come clearly into view, is a big deal.

Look at the math.

Wondering who the experts pick? Click here.

Lincoln Bracket: Mechelle’s got the Lincoln Regional breakdown

Yup. Hosting is a crap shoot – just ask Nebraska (or Chattanooga). They’re not playing, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to bring it. Connie Yori went all Jody Conradt on us.

In 1985, when the Longhorns were hosting the Final Four, they were huge favorites. But, they were upset (even though that doesn’t happen in women’s basketball) on the way to the Championship. Down, but not out, Jody put all her efforts into getting folks out to the games — and notched the first F4 sell out.

Now it’s the Huskers’ turn: For good of NU, Yori hopes UConn draws big crowds and Why Connie Yori Wants NU Fans to Pack PBA

“Because UConn doesn’t play in the Midwest very often, so it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to see perhaps the best women’s program of all time,” Yori said before adding: “This UConn team also might be one of the best, if not the best, college women’s team of all-time. They’re phenomenal. Nebraska fans wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity like this when they can see one of the greatest teams of all time playing in their own backyard. You don’t have to go to the Final Four in Nashville. All you have to do is buy a ticket and head straight down to the Haymarket.”

So… About those games:

Huskies v. Cougars

Game day: No. 1 seed UConn women vs. No. 12 BYU,
BYU women at a glance
BYU looks to N.C. State men’s championship team for motivation vs. UConn
Cougars, 6-7 Jennifer Hamson Defy Odds Advancing To Meet Huskies
Cinderella story inspires Bailey, BYU

There are players who have to search the nation and scour the Internet to find the inspiration needed to lead their teams to improbable March Madness upsets.

Brigham Young junior forward Morgan Bailey did not have any such issues.

As luck would have it, her uncle is Thurl Bailey, one of the stars of a North Carolina State team which recorded perhaps the most improbable national championship run in college basketball history. While Thurl Bailey was not part of the Brigham Young traveling party to Lincoln for Saturday’s regional semifinals, he did reach out to his beloved niece.

Will BYU, Hamson block Huskies’ path?
Mike DiMauro: BYU’s approach against UConn women … on any given night
BYU women’s basketball team enjoying sudden attention in Sweet 16
Cougars embracing, relishing underdog role vs. top seed UConn

NCAA would change sked for BYU and BYU will attend Sunday press conferences, but not play or practice

Stewie is coming of age

She came bounding out of practice Friday, down the tunnel and through the curtain at Pinnacle Bank Arena. This is Stewie. Happy. Giddy. Dare we even suggest innocent?

This is Stewie. The same kid who exited the court for the final time this season at Gampel Pavilion earlier this week alongside Stefanie Dolson, saluting the crowd with the royal wave, the Queen of England in Nikes, the slight hand twist accompanied by the 50,000-watt smile.

This is Stewie.

Could this be the same kid her coach was yelling at earlier this season for being stubborn? Stubborn. Stewie? C’mon. This is Ms. Sunny Disposition. Stubborn?

Steven M. Sipple: Auriemma proves a master at his calling, Lincoln Journal Star

Oh, he retains plenty of fire. But he doesn’t allow a subpar game, or a subpar half, to send him off the rails like he might have done when he took over a foundering UConn program in 1985.

“You tend to view things more big-picture as opposed to reacting to what’s going on in front of you right now,” he said. “I think that helps the players, too, if you’re kind of like, ‘We’ll be all right. …'”

He also noted the importance of celebrating great plays and great games, but moving forward quickly.

Never too high, never too low.

He paused for a few seconds.

“That’s just the long way of saying I’m too old to give a damn about what’s going on, and I have no control over it,” he said with a chuckle.

Slideshow: Pursuit of Perfection, ESPN

Aggies v Blue Demons:

Texas A&M women prepare for DePaul sharpshooters

Texas A&M’s Gary Blair sounded more like a carnival barker than coach as he discussed his team’s matchup with DePaul on Saturday in the NCAA women’s regional semifinals.

“Our game against DePaul will be one of the most entertaining games you’ve ever seen,” Blair said, adding that it would be like a “ping-pong match.”

Aggies back in ‘flow,’ strive for Elite Eight

Texas A&M women’s basketball team feeling elite going into Sweet 16 matchup against DePaul

Texas A&M women’s basketball team learning from watching other teams

DePaul women’s basketball playing their ‘best ball of the season’ going into Sweet Sixteen

Going into their first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2011, DePaul women’s basketball continues to feed off of the momentum from their upset win against Duke while preparing to play Texas A&M.

“The win (over Duke) was huge for our program…definitely a momentum-builder,” sophomore Chanise Jenkins said. “It gives us tons of confidence going into the next game.”

Senior Jasmine Penny said the win meant a lot to her. With no plans to play after graduation, Penny has no idea when she will play her final game as a Blue Demon.

“It seems like we’re always the underdog and it was so amazing to see us come out and fight the way we did,” Penny said.

DePaul women ride fast-paced offense into Sweet 16 – Doug Bruno’s run-and-gun style carries risk but has high reward

Bruno’s Blue Demons not just a run-and-gun team

With Rogowski’s shooting, DePaul aiming high

‘(Texas A&M) is a business trip’ said Coach Doug Bruno of DePaul women’s basketball

DePaul and Texas A&M Tangle on Saturday in the Sweet 16

CESSNA: With UConn at this regional, second place not so bad

It’s un-American to strive to be second best, but when the 64-team bracket for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament was unveiled, it was a given Connecticut would advance to the Final Flour from the Lincoln Regional.
The only thing left to settle was who would be second. It’s not a defeatist outlook — it’s reality.

Notre Dame Regional breakdown

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw can’t stand the idea of having regionals at home sites. It doesn’t make for a truly fair tournament, she says. She’s right.

But the way the Irish have played this season, the fact that Notre Dame is hosting a regional is hardly the reason they are favored to go to the Women’s Final Four again. Rather, it’s that this Irish team — despite the loss of Skylar Diggins — is an undefeated powerhouse no matter where it is playing.

Admittedly, so is that other former Big East giant on the other side of the bracket. While UConn travels to Lincoln, Neb., for what appears a not-very-challenging regional, Notre Dame is home, where the Irish have lost just two games over the past three seasons.

Irish v. Cowgirls:

Irish’s McGraw: Notre Dame has unfair advantage or  is it that Notre Dame enjoys “comfort zone” of home court advantage in NCAA tournament. Either way, Berry Tramel is grumpy about it.

Players know their roles for unbeaten Notre Dame women’s basketball team

Irish won’t settle; want to improve

Notre Dame excited to play Oklahoma State at home

Martin leads Cowgirls into Sweet 16

Oklahoma State’s Brittney Martin and her teammates are in the NCAA Sweet 16 but will have to face No. 1 seed Notre Dame on the Irish’s home court. Pretty tough assignment for the No. 5 seed, right?

Sure. But, hey, Martin is a pretty tough kid. She was only about a month into her first college basketball season when she got a tooth knocked out.

She dove for a loose ball against Stephen F. Austin in early December 2012. One of the SFA players lost her balance and fell on Martin, whose face went into the floor.

“The initial hit was not painful; it kind of felt like if you bend a piece of licorice, maybe,” Martin said. “Then I felt my mouth, and my teeth were in my hand. So …”

Martin then smiled and pointed to her mouth.

Expect Tiffany Bias back in Cowgirls’ lineup vs. Notre Dame – OSU arrived in Stillwater about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. By 8, Bias was in the training room getting treatment on an injured ankle.

Cowgirls have something to lose against Notre Dame

Bears v. Wildcats:

Five things to know about Baylor vs. Kentucky

Kentucky, Baylor set for rematch of 4-OT thriller

The last time Baylor and Kentucky met, they played one of the most exciting games in the history of women’s basketball.

Neither coach expects another four-overtime thriller today in the Sweet 16. Still, both are looking forward to another entertaining matchup with a berth in the regional finals on the line.

Kentucky, Baylor women on edge for rematch of December’s ‘instant classic’

Kentucky’s Goss’ quest for perfection paying off

Kentucky not sure it can slow Baylor scoring machine Sims

Homer’s The Odyssey was an epic adventure filled with twists and turns.

So is any attempt to guard Baylor’s Odyssey.

In the epic adventure that was Kentucky’s four-overtime victory over the Bears in December, the Cats threw four different defenders at Odyssey Sims.

Kentucky could have used about six more. In the losing effort, Baylor’s senior guard scored 47 points.

Another sweet season for Sims and Baylor women

Odyssey Sims and Baylor are having another sweet season.

The Lady Bears have made it to the third round of the NCAA women’s tournament for the sixth year in a row. But there are still surely plenty of people surprised to see them back in the Sweet 16 this year.

Baylor women’s basketball team tops list of No. 1s

Looking ahead?

Graham has the Louisville Regional breakdown

Michelle Smith has the Stanford Regional breakdown South Carolina is the top seed, but will Stanford rediscover its Maples magic?

She adds: Ruef used to juggling multiple roles – Stanford senior has started 33 of 34 games and worked as an engineering intern

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Geaux Tigers. Courtesy of their comeback/upset win over #2 West Virginia, #7 LSU will face off against the Cardinals, ’cause #3 Louisville rolled over #6 Iowa. The Tigers will be without Raigyne Moncrief and Jeanne Kenney is day-to-day with a concussion.

#5 Texas gave #4 Maryland all they could handle, but the Terps escaped with a win. Newt up, it’s #1 Tennessee.

Unlike the ESPN/AP headline, #4 North Carolina didn’t “run away” with the win over #5 Michigan State. They DID managed to keep the Spartans at bay, so the Tar Heels will battle #1 South Carolina.

Speaking of North Carolina – An equally inaccurate ESPN/AP headline: South Carolina did not “overwhelm” Oregon State. The Gamecocks chipped out a 9-pt. lead at the half and held serve throughout the second.

Maggie and #3 Penn State got their groove on in the first half against #11 Florida, and then kept dancing in the second. Lions v. #2 Stanford, at Maples.

After a tight first half, #3 TAMU pulled away from #11 James Madison to earn a date with DePaul.

She’s baaaaaaaack – with only the third triple-double in UConn history, Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis and the #1 Huskies rolled over St. Joseph’s. Next on their dance card: #12 BYU.

Rounding out the 16, it will be #2 Baylor against #3 Kentucky and #1 Notre Dame against  #5 Oklahoma State.

Charlie offers up Five observations from Tuesday’s games

• 5. Burkholder goes out with a bang: James Madison’s season might be over after Tuesday’s 85-69 loss to Texas A&M, but it won’t be forgotten for a long time in Harrisonburg. The greatest memory of a school record-tying 29 wins and first NCAA tournament win since 1991 might be the play of senior Kirby Buckholder, especially her free-throw shooting.

The CAA Player of the Year kept getting to the line and kept connecting against both Gonzaga and A&M. After going 17-of-18 in the first round, Burkholder made all nine of her free throws on Tuesday. She was the 10th most accurate shooter from the charity stripe all season at 88.7 percent, which was nothing compared to her 96.2 percent performance in the NCAA tournament. The 6-foot guard averaged 24 points and 14 rebounds in JMU’s two games.

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Not outrageously so, but there was another slate of good’uns!

Considering their injury situation, that the Battle of the Blues went the Demons’ way wasn’t so surprising, was it. #7 DePaul over #2 Duke, 74-65. Graham’s Instant Analysis as DePaul puts on the pressure.

Exactly one year to the day after DePaul limped out of Cameron Indoor Stadium battered, bruised and beaten in a first-round game against Oklahoma State that almost no one outside of Stillwater has reason to remember, the Blue Demons had a hop in their step as they prepared to head home — if only briefly this time. The Sweet 16 awaits, after all.

It was second-seeded Duke that limped away, a team already shorthanded left with heavy legs and tired tears.

As for the #4 Huskers’ loss to the #12 Cougars, ask the Lincoln Region. Sue weighs in over at Full Court: BYU upsets Nebraska, 80-76, to advance to Sweet 16 in Lincoln Regional

In pulling off their second upset in three days, the Cougars advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002, and become just the third 12th-seeded team in NCAA history to pull off the feat. Ironically, they head to the Lincoln, Neb. regional.

Considering what happened to the Cowgirls program two-plus years ago, who could be upset at their upset: #5 Oklahoma State over #4 Purdue, 73-66.


Games that were surprisingly tight (at least in the first half)

#1 Notre Dame v. #9 Arizona State, 84-67.

#2 Baylor v. #7 Cal. Bears over the Golden Bears, 75-56.

#1 Tennessee v. #8 St. John’s. Vols over Storm, 67-51.

Game that was surprisingly tight, considering the opposition was missing their best player)
#3 Kentucky v. #6 Syracuse. Wildcats eventually overcame the gritty Orange, 64-59.

Games that weren’t in question

#10 Florida State v. #2 Ogwumike... I mean Stanford. From Mechelle: Stanford all business-like in win

You’re not ever going to see a lot of drama from Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. You know this, of course. She’s the technician, the professor, the perfect mentor for “Nerd Nation.”

Monday, the Cardinal played just her kind of game: Start with a plan, make some smart adjustments, execute well, win comfortably, walk out into the snow celebrating …

Wait a minute … snow? How often do the Cardinal run into that, especially in March? But spring is a capricious thing here in Iowa, and sure enough some flaky stuff was falling as the Cardinal contingent headed out of Hilton Coliseum and home to a Sweet 16 in their own Maples Pavilion.

From Charlie: Five observations from Monday’s games

• 3. Home not-so-sweet home: Every year, so much talk is invested in the top seeds playing on the home courts of teams with worse seeds. Nothing in the women’s tournament creates more angst. Then, every year it has little impact on the tournament. This March, it’s having even less influence. In fact, it has actually worked the other way. The higher seeds are losing games in their own gyms. On Monday, No. 2 seed Duke lost in Durham to seventh-seeded DePaul, and No. 4 seed Purdue fell to fifth-seeded Oklahoma State in Mackey Arena. In the first round, No. 10 seed Florida State beat seventh-seeded Iowa State in Ames. The motivation of playing a Sweet 16 game at home didn’t help Nebraska at all in the Huskers’ loss to BYU.

To this point in 2014, the home court has changed nothing. Upsets can happen anywhere.

 

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Yup, some good’s agin — and a little black & white, NCAA and UNC officials controversy just to add a little kick.

A (faux?) Flagrant 1, Free Throws and a Freaky ending saved #4 UNC from #13 UT-Martin, 60-58. All I can say is Skyhawks got skyhooked and the Tar Heels better respect the gift they got.

#6 Flyers got themselves Flipped by #11 Florida, 83-69.

Fierce Danes got within two in the second, but it #2 West Virginia over #15 Albany, 76-61.

Fab first half by Quakers, but too much McGee-Stafford: #5 Texas over #12 Penn, 79-61.

First half flipped, which meant Penn State managed to avoid getting Shocked, 62-56.

Floored in the first, more in the second: #7 LSU over #10 Georgia Tech, 98-78.

Minato did all she could do, but the Terps were relentless. Maryland over Army, 90-52.

The Spartans’s defense made the Pirates‘ offense walk the planks: Michigan State over #12 Hampton, 91-61.

The Cardinals were not bothered by the Vandals. #3 Louisville over #12 Idaho, 88-42.

The Gamecocks were pushed and pushed but the Matadors, but CSN ran out of steam (not heart). #1 South Carolina over #16 Cal State Northridge.73-58.

#6 The Bulldogs found out how good the #11 Dukes were. James Madison over Gonzaga, 72-63.

The other Bulldogs found out how good the Hawks were. #9 St. Joseph’s over #8 Georgia, 67-57.

After Kara’s “Moment of Silence” for the Panthers, the Huskies quickly dispatched them. #1 UConn over #16 Prairie View, 87-44.

#14 UND kept #3 TAMU honest, but eventually the Aggies pulled out the win, 70-55.

Ebony Rowe showed up for #8 Middle Tennessee State  – but no other Raider did. Their offense fell apart in the face of #9 Oregon State – 55-36. Beavers advance to the next round of the NCAA tournament.

This time the birds raided the fox den: #6 Iowa over #11 Marist, 87-65.

Random responses from folks:

From LadySwish: JMU snaps state drought in NCAAs

Yes, JMU’s 72-63 decision over Gonzaga Sunday gave the 11th-seeded Dukes their first NCAA tournament win since 1991. But it also snapped a one-and-done drought for teams across the state.

The victory was the first in the NCAAs by a Division I Virginia school since 2009, when fifth-seeded Virginia opened tournament play with a 68-61 win over No. 12 Marist. The bottom fell out in the next round, though, as the Cavaliers fell 99-73 to a Cal team coached by current Virginia leader Joanne Boyle.

From Nate: UT Martin proved they belong with an outstanding game plan against North Carolina

The goal was clear enough – to limit possessions and force UNC to execute in the halfcourt – but it was a dramatic departure from what they’ve done all season en route to a 24-7 record, a risk that most teams entering the tournament aren’t willing to take.

Entering the tournament, UT Martin played at the 34th highest pace in the nation and was third in the nation in scoring with 84.6 points per game. They gave up inches at every position to North Carolina, theoretically putting them at a serious rebounding disadvantage – they were already eighth in the Ohio Valley Conference in rebounding percentage.

But the outside-the-box thinking worked brilliantly as UTM fell just short of scoring the biggest upset of the 2014 NCAA Tournament so far in a 60-58 loss to UNC in Chapel Hill. And a closer look at UT Martin’s statistical profile reveals the wisdom of McMillan’s strategy: although the assumption was that UT Martin was playing away from their strengths by slowing the game down, McMillan was essentially playing the numbers.

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Poke, poke….

Clearly, ESPN and the rest of the media will be pushing the Notre Dame v. UConn narrative.

Fortunately for them, the two head coaches have no issue adding to the news stream:

Serve:

“We were disappointed they couldn’t fit us into their schedule this year.”

Return:

“As for the scheduling part?” Auriemma said, “Let me just say it’s not nice to fib during lent.”

Reporters:

This is going to be fun for the two weeks. Both coaches will lament how there’s much work to be done between now and Nashville, remind us all of how Louisville beat Baylor last year … and then jab, jab, jab when the opportunity presents itself.

It will make for great viewing, great reading and perhaps give the game its best feud since the old UConn-Tennessee days. And maybe better.

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Nate wonders: Will the first round produce more upsets?

Turtles v. Black Knights: Army-Maryland game brings service, stardom

Alyssa Thomas and Jen Hazlett have used college basketball to prepare for the next stages of their lives.

Thomas, a senior at Maryland and three-time Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, expects a lengthy career in the WNBA. Hazlett, the lone senior on an Army team that won the Patriot League title, will spend the next several years serving her country.

Shockers v. Lions: Wichita State women have tall order against Penn State

If the Wichita State women’s basketball team is to become the first team in NCAA Tournament history to win as a No. 14 seed, it won’t be because of an overhaul in strategy to compensate playing a BCS program.

Pirates v. Spartans: Previous NCAA trips prepare Hampton U. women for competition

Shortly before they took the court in Albuquerque, N.M., to face Kentucky in the 2011 NCAA tournament, Hampton University coach David Six sensed that his players were uncharacteristically quiet and edgy.

Six tried to snap them out of it.

“I can see y’all aren’t like me,” he said to them.

What do you mean, several of them asked.

“I know I’m the best coach here,” Six told them.

Yellow Jackets v. TigersLSU women’s basketball looks to start NCAA tournament with win against Georgia Tech and the Lady Jackets ready to open NCAA tournament with LSU Tigers (Video)

Great Danes v. MountaineersWVU looking for break new ground in NCAA tourney so Carey is counting on Mountaineers’ senior leadership

Tar Heels v.  Skyhawks: The UNC women’s basketball gets set for  tournament a hope the freshmen are ready for the NCAA test. Meanwhile, UT-Martin’s Heather Butler blogs about rising to the challenge of facing North Carolina

Quakers v. Longhorns: Alyssa Baron ready for final chapter with Penn women’s basketball – After four years of scoring and success, the senior captain looks towards the biggest game of her career

The DP article after her first game read “Strong Start from Freshman,” but even then nobody expected her to have such a lasting impact on the program.

“In the first half, I just kept taking it strong to the basket. I knew the defenders couldn’t cover me as well as they should have been able to,” Baron said after the 70-59 win over Bryant in the 2010-11 season .

Well, they still haven’t figured out how to cover one of the most hard-charging, never-back-down guards whose jump floaters will remain the most iconic shot in Penn women’s basketball history.

Flyers v. Gators: No one really seems to be paying attention to this game, but did you know the Dayton women are in the “Final Four”?

What if academics determined the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship winners?

National online higher education publication Inside Higher Ed says the Dayton Flyers women’s basketball team would reach the Final Four, while the men’s team would reach the Sweet 16, losing to the eventual national champions, Kansas.

Vandals v. Cardinals: Hmmm – Coach Walz says Louisville women ready for Idaho, so, yup, the Vandals get a tough matchup

As upstart newcomers to the NCAA tournament a year ago, the Idaho women’s basketball team was relegated to a No. 16 seed and suffered a 68-point loss at the hands of No.1 seed Connecticut, the eventual national champion.

So, after earning a No. 14 seed this year, the Vandals should get a more manageable opponent, right?

Not quite, according to coach Jon Newlee.

Gamecocks v. Matadors: The Carolina women can hope road is place to win title, ’cause Nothing comes easy for Cal-State Northridge women’s basketball

Dukes v.  Bulldogs: The Breeze thinks Women’s basketball equally matched against Gonzaga University, Thomas Clouse thinks the Zags, Dukes look alike and Howie Stalwick says Gonzaga’s Palmer is all heart on, off court. CAA Defensive Player of the Year Nikki Newman blogs about JMU proving themselves in the 2014 NCAA Tournament

Panthers v. Huskies: Connecticut is In pursuit of perfection, Prairie View is embracing the underdog role.

Aggies v. N.D. No Mascots: UND women’s basketball team takes national stage today against Texas A&M, who have the potential to make a splash this weekend

Red Foxes v. Hawkeyes: As the Marist women’s basketball team gets to work in Iowa, the Hawkeyes know they face a dangerous first-round foe with a history of NCAA success.

Beavers v. Blue Raiders: Sure, the MTSU women are chasing  first-round NCAA victory but careful,  Oregon State freshman, Gabby Hanson, is ready to win…now. Yup, the Oregon St. women’s basketball revival is a story worth cheering

If you want a benchmark for how far the Oregon State women’s basketball program has come, from near oblivion to the Big Dance, there are almost too many from which to choose.

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A Saturday of…

Ugly

#1 Tennessee over #16 Northwestern State, 70-46

Urus Iff-iffish

#2 Baylor over #15 Western Kentucky, 87-74

Upset

#9 Arizona State over #8 Vanderbilt, 69-61

#10 Florida State over #7 Iowa State, 55-44.

Unsurprising Upset

#12 BYU over #NC State, 72-57.

Unbelievable!

#7 DePaul over #10 Oklahoma, 104-100.

#8 St. John’s over #9 USC

Under the Gun

#7 California over #10 Fordham, 64-63.

#5 Oklahoma State over #12 FGCU, 61-60 OT

Uno, but Upsetting

#6 Syracuse over #11 Chattanooga, 59-53.

Unconcerned

#4 Purdue over #13 Akron, 84-55

#4 Nebraska over #13 Fresno State, 74-36.

#2 Duke over #14 Winthrop, 87-45.

#2 Stanford over #15 South Dakota, 81-62.

#3 Kentucky over #14 Wright State, 106-60.

#1 Notre Dame over #16 Robert Morris, 93-42.

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Fair, shmair

Just a thought as the women’s tournament begins and folks are still gnawing on the nuances, slights, snubs, and conspiracies about who got sent to battle which team where and why.

Let’s talk what’s “fair” AFTER every single college and university is in full compliance with Title IX, shall we? ‘Cause, until that happens, there’s no such thing as fair.

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ESPN has your region breakdown:

Mechelle has 10 first-round storylines to follow

The women’s version of March Madness tips off at 11 a.m. ET Saturday at 16 sites around the country, with early rounds concluding Monday and Tuesday. Here are 10 things to look for/ponder/debate during the opening steps of the Big Dance:

1. Leagues of legends?

 Who said this: “I think we have the toughest conference in the country. We beat each other up. On any given night, anybody can win. You have to bring your A-game.”

Answer: Almost every coach, although some do add the qualifier “one of the toughest conferences” because they know that saying the toughest is over the top.

UConn’s Geno Auriemma of the new American (“We have no real geographic link, but we’re all in the United States!”) Athletic Conference isn’t going to say this about that amalgamation of orphans, castoffs, left-behinds and biding-their-times. But he doesn’t need to. He can just say, We got Breanna, and you don’t. (Hmmm … rings a bell, doesn’t it?)

So which league really was the toughest to play in this season? Hah, as if there could be a consensus on that. But the conferences that received the most NCAA bids were the SEC and ACC, with eight each. We’ll see how many live on to the Sweet 16.

She’s also thinking the Vols have jelled at the right time.

The NCAA selection committee has gone away from making the previous 10 games of a team’s season such a huge priority in regard to tournament selection/placement. That used to be something that was consistently brought up as being very important. Now, supposedly, it’s just another factor to consider, but the whole “body of work” thing is bigger.

Still, this season, it seems clear that Tennessee’s No. 1 seed was secured by the Lady Vols winning the SEC tournament. And if you are going to focus on the “last 10,” that stretch looks quite good for the Lady Vols.

Yes, I’m sure the Lady Vols are eager to end their Final Four drought (even without Massengale for the first two games), but did you know that they’re putting a 52-game streak on line vs Northwestern State?

It’s a daydream savored by anyone who ever spent so much as an afternoon with a basketball in the driveway. The imaginary clock ticks down and the phantom crowd is on its feet. The game is on the line, the ball is in your hands.

It is your chance to be the hero. You survey the options — and pass the ball to an open teammate for the game-winning assist.

Wait, what?

Interesting: Duke’s depleted lineup, turnover problems give Winthrop hope

And in the “Who would?” department: Duke coach unhappy team in same region with UConn

DePaul women’s head coach Doug Bruno wasn’t nearly as excited as his players after winning the Big East tournament.  Bruno, who is in his 28th year as DePaul’s head coach, said he coaches solely for the NCAA tournament.

The LSU Reveille sounds the call:

LSU does not have another chance to get back on track.

The Lady Tigers have no more media sessions to talk about what they can do to get out of their slump. The only thing left to do is act on their words.

“It’s a time for my team to actually make history or make something happen,” said freshman guard Raigyne Moncrief. “Hopefully we can just pull together and get wins.”

The Bulldog Blitz unpicks Fresno State’s strategy: 

Within minutes of learning who they would play in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, a few Fresno State players anxiously searched their cellphones for statistics and video clips of the Nebraska basketball team.

The Bulldogs received a more detailed breakdown of the Cornhuskers the following day after the coaching staff assembled a video scouting report — with two agendas in mind:

For each clip that coach Raegan Pebley showed of Nebraska excelling, she also showed one of the 13th-ranked Cornhuskers getting exposed. 

No worries: Husker Laudermill is ready to spark Nebraska. Oh, and have you Met the Nebraska women’s basketball starting five

While the Cal women begin tournament in shadow of last season’s team, they are feeling confident as they enter NCAA Tournament play against the Fordham Rams, when we’ll see if the Boyd-Rooney Matchup deserved to be The Talk of Friday’s Media Day

As Akron women’s basketball rides dynamic duo into Mackey Arena to face Purdue, the Boilermakers defense might be the key in NCAA tourney

If the UTC women want better tourney results, they’re going to have to prepare for Syracuse’s zone defense. And 10 other things.

Florida State will look to stop ISU’s Christofferson from extending career at Hilton

Sure, Taylor Greenfield might be the only Stanford player happy about traveling 1,800 miles to the middle of Iowa to open the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, but the Coyotes have no issue with trying to make her and her teammates cranky.

Oh, yeah, USC, Northridge women are living the dream – but Trojans will face St. John’s

As the long wait is finished and Baylor prepares to play the NCAA opener without suspended Mulkey, the Hilltoppers are up to the challenge.

“We’re excited,” WKU sophomore guard Micah Jones said. “They’ve had a lot of success over the past few years, and that’s what we’re trying to get back to with our program. It’s a great opportunity for us to come here and play Baylor.”

Brandon Gurney from the Deseret news says the Cougars feel good about their matchup with the Wolfpack

We match up well and their team is very similar to ours,” observed BYU coach Jeff Judkins. “The way they play and how they do it (is similar).”

The starkest similarity involves the starting centers. BYU features 6-foot-7 senior Jen Hamson while North Carolina presents 6-foot-5 senior Markeisha Gatling. Both players lead their teams from the post, and Judkins believes whoever wins that specific matchup will go a long way in determining the outcome.

News from the WNIT:

Ducks dominate Pacific Tigers 90-63 in WNIT opener

Rutgers women’s basketball defeats Delaware in WNIT

If the Rutgers women’s basketball team is trying to use the WNIT as a platform to show it was worthy of receiving a NCAA Tournament berth, it will have to wait until at least the second round to begin proving its case.

Women’s Basketball Pulls Out Last-Second WNIT Victory

With seven seconds left on the clock and Harvard up by two, Iona guard Aleesha Powell drove to the basket for a hard layup, drawing the foul on captain Christine Clark and making the basket for the three-point play. Powell, an 84.9 percent free-throw shooter, completed the and-one.

One-point Gaels lead, 6.7 seconds on the clock.

But Clark was not about to let her season—and Harvard career—end with that.

Other games:

Colorado 78, TCU 71
Montana 90, Washington State 78
Minnesota 62, Green Bay 60
Villanova 74, Quinnipiac 55
George Washington 86, East Carolina 68

Michigan 86, Stony Brook 48
Duquesne 62, Mount St. Mary’s 52
St. Bonaventure 81, Charlotte 62
South Florida 56, North Carolina A&T 50
Saint Mary’s 75, CSU Bakersfield 68
UTEP 74, Arkansas State 64
Washington 67, Hawaii 50

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But do you wanna? I mean, really, would you wanna?

From the NY Times: Earning Their Stripes as Umpires and Referees

Ashlee Harrison of Norristown, Pa., a basketball referee, likes the work.

“Right now, it’s the best part-time job I’ve ever had,” said Ms. Harrison, 32, who jumped into officiating four years ago after coaching high school basketball. As with many new officials, at first she refereed games played by 12-year-olds for as little as $25; she now makes far more and sometimes works seven days a week at the women’s junior college and Division III levels.

“The games I drive to can be two, two and a half hours away,” said Ms. Harrison. “It’s literally an eight-hour day by the time you get back.” But she expects to consider officiating as a full-time job soon.

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the “pick apart” and “prep part” starts.

After Michelle writes that the Seed, site of opener puzzle Stanford Cardinal receive No. 2 seed — and play first-round game in Ames, Iowa

When Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer entered the media room Monday night after the brackets were revealed, one of the assembled reporters wished her a happy St. Patrick’s Day.

“I am part Irish,” VanDerveer said dryly, “but I don’t feel lucky.”

Mechelle and Michelle say to Stanford, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Melanie Jackson has the Women’s tourney power rankings

After editing Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel this season (and covering the women’s NCAA tournament the past 15 years), it’s easy to pick up tidbits about the top teams around the country. So here’s one editor’s take on the women’s field of 64:

Newsday’s Marcus Henry is Breaking down the women’s NCAA Tournament and Jordan Rinard from the Miami Student explains Why I’ll be watching the women’s tourney

Mel offers Guru’s NCAA/WNIT Musings: Louisville Seed Not in the Cards

Well while the Guru didn’t get into the actual seeding forecasts, the countdown of where things were in terms of locks and bubbles pretty much played out.

But some of the Guru’s kitchen cabinet who have been in power centers in the past couldn’t help but wonder at some of the moves made by the committee.

Doug offers 6 players to watch in the NCAA women’s tournament and posits: Here’s what could happen in NCAA women’s tournament

As Colorado State women welcome fresh start in WNIT, Graham and Charlie debate: Are Conference Tournaments Good for the Women’s Game?

Ramona Shelburne offers up New glory days for Cooper-Dyke, USC

Charlie Springer at the Card Game explains: Louisville women’s basketball team latest to pay a price

Scott Wolf at the Los Angeles Daily News adds: USC women’s basketball eager for first NCAA Tourament game since 2006

Ruey Yen at the California Golden Blogs says A 7 seed for Cal Women’s Basketball means it’s off to Waco, TX to face Fordham and likely Baylor

Though West Virginia women are not happy with NCAA draw, the Mountaineers could have career season in 2013-14

From the AP’s Stephen Hawkins, Young Baylor still No. 2 NCAA seed, Big 12 champs

Everything seems pretty much the same for perennial national power Baylor, with another Big 12 title and a No. 2 seed in hand headed into the NCAA women’s tournament.

But this is a much different group than the Lady Bears had two years ago for an undefeated national championship and was an overwhelming favorite to repeat last season before an unexpected regional final loss to Louisville.

Patricia Babcock McGraw says the DePaul women ready to go against Oklahoma

While traveling to North Carolina last March to watch DePaul play in the NCAA Tournament, Megan Rogowski’s family from Prospect Heights rolled in some sightseeing and college visits.

“My parents and my little brother and sister visited Duke and North Carolina and North Carolina State,” said Rogowski, a star at Hersey and now the best 3-point shooter in the Big East Conference. “They had a lot of fun, and they’ll know what to expect for this year.”

Hopefully, the Rogowskis have more items on their “Tobacco Road must-see list” because Megan and DePaul are headed back this year.

In preparation: Offensive rebounds, turnovers primary focus for Lady Tigers – Lady Tigers have been working with scout team to fix mental errors

From Mark Carmin: Akron women’s basketball rides dynamic duo into Mackey Arena to face Purdue

Jodi Kest doesn’t remember giving Akron seniors Rachel Tecca and Hanna Luburgh the nickname “Bread and Butter.”

Tecca swears by it.

“That’s what coach Kest called us,” she said.

The 6-foot-1 forward, though, prefers “dynamic duo” when describing her and Luburgh’s exploits on the court for the Zips, who make their first NCAA tournament appearance Saturday against No. 17 Purdue at Mackey Arena.

“I’m Batman. She’s Robin. I’m Batman because I was here first and I’m taller,” Tecca said.

Ward Gossett notices that Former Chattanoogan Mike Bradbury has Wright State in new place

Wright State women’s basketball fans are celebrating, thanks in large part to former Chattanoogan Mike Bradbury.

Before Bradbury arrived, Wright State had enjoyed only one winning womeon’s season. Since he got to Dayton five years ago, the Raiders have had three 20-win seasons and this year added the school’s first Horizon League championship and its initial invitation to the NCAA women’s tournament.

“It’s been a good week. In my professional career this is probably the highlight,” said Bradbury, a late-1980s basketball player and sprinter at East Ridge High School before moving on to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Jennifer Gish from the Times Union: U Albany women plan March Madness surprise – In third straight trip to tournament, Danes aim to get first victory

“The third time’s a charm,” said the team’s leading scorer, sophomore Shereesha Richards. “So you never know. This might be the year we get an upset.”

Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said the team has seen the game film of last year’s NCAA Tournament loss a couple of times, and now knows the importance of boxing out, especially in free-throw situations, and making critical layups.

She says West Virginia is a “super-athletic” team. That’s very much like North Carolina, which beat UAlbany 59-54 in the first round last year after trailing the Great Danes for much of the game.

The UConn Women’s Staff Moves Quickly To Scout Prairie View because the UConn Women’s Path To National Title Begins With Prairie View

Chloe Pavlech blogs on selection Monday: The Terps are Ready to Dance.

Iowa State’s Jadda Buckley is Excited to be Playing at Home

Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell writes Anything’s Possible in Postseason.

Chiney warns A Hungry Team Can Be Dangerous

Shelly Stallsmith previews Penn State vs. Wichita State; Maryland vs. Army in NCAA women’s basketball openers

Gene Wang writes Maryland women’s basketball will host Army in NCAA tournament first round

“I never will take the NCAA tournament for granted,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “Like I told our team today, when you miss out on an opportunity to go, you’ll never take it for granted. We’ve had a few years, not too many, of those, so it’s truly an honor. These guys have put in a ton of hard work, and now we want to represent Maryland.”

Lisa Leslie is impressed by Saniya Chong’s spirit

Skylar explains What makes No. 2 Notre Dame so tough and Al Lesar writes Notre Dame’s Allen plays her own game

When she looks in the mirror, Lindsay Allen likes the face smiling back at her.

The Notre Dame women’s basketball team’s freshman point guard never tried to be the next Skylar Diggins.

Her only goal was to be the best possible Lindsay Allen.

“I have to make my own path; not worry about what (Diggins) did, what she accomplished,” said Allen. “Just play my game and play my role.”

It’s going to change (apparently) but Flag controversy blocks South Carolina home court advantage

The South Carolina women’s basketball team made history Monday night, earning its first ever number one seed in the NCAA basketball tournament.

The team will travel to Seattle over the weekend, where they’ll face Cal State Northridge in first round action.

A far cry from what some feel could have been.

Of the four number one seeds in this year’s NCAA Women’s basketball tournament, South Carolina will be the only top seed without a game in-state.

The Gamecocks were never in the running to host a regional game this season, in light of an NCAA boycott against South Carolina.

From Walt Moody at the Centre Daily: Third-seeded Lady Lions to face Wichita State in NCAA Tournament opener

You could call Penn State’s draw in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament a bit of a “shocker” in a couple of different ways Monday night.

Crowded around several flat screen televisions in the Founders Room at the Bryce Jordan, the Lady Lions saw they landed a No. 3 seed, a number that was somewhat of a surprise to most prognosticators and even to members of the team.

Well, yeah: Lady Vols eager to end their Final Four drought. Dan writes Lady Vols to be watchful for foul play in NCAA tournament

From Texas: Women’s Basketball Takes on Penn in the First Round

From Lady Moc Land

“This time of year, you’re going to play a good team, regardless of your seed, because all of the bad teams are at home,” UTC coach Jim Foster said. “I like the geography of where we’re going, and I think we’re going to have a good crowd in attendance.”

From Kentucky: Lady Tops enjoying title as NCAA looms

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team returned to Bowling Green on Sunday evening with weary eyes, but with smiles that hadn’t faded since Saturday night.

Yup, the Beavers go dancing for first time since 1996

When Scott Rueck took over the Oregon State women’s basketball program in late June of 2010, he was met by a large contingency of fans and supporters in the Loge of Reser Stadium.

The Beavers were coming off an 11-20 season that saw them go 2-16 in the Pac-10 Conference.

Players had left and Rueck would have to somehow cobble together a roster after holding open tryouts.

He never could have imagined another similar crowd a mere 45 months later.

Oh, and Freshman point guard Sydney Wiese leads Beavers’ resurgence and OSU realizes Middle Tennessee has plenty of NCAA experience

From Green Bay: Patience, persistence pay off for UWGB’s Zastrow

Sam Zastrow could have quit or moved on from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team.

She wasn’t getting many minutes and could have transferred to another school to get more. The former Algoma standout has been asked a lot over the years why she didn’t.

“I’ve always wanted to play here,” Zastrow said. “The fact that I wasn’t getting to play the first couple of years, I took that as a challenge. I’m like, ‘I’m not going to leave. I’m not going to let people bring me down.’

From the Salt Lake Tribune: BYU ‘happy to go dancing’ in NCAA tournament

Coach Jeff Judkins said the Cougars aren’t just happy to be in the tournament this year.

“As we talked about before [the bracket] came out, we are not here just to get to the tournament. We really want to play our best basketball and represent this university and this conference the best that we can.”

Over at SportsBlog: Tanisha Wright covers March Madness

What’s showing when? Coverage maps: Saturday & Sunday Who’s announcing when? 2014 NCAA women’s basketball tournament TV schedule on ESPN and ESPN2

You think you know who’s going to win? Play the Brackets.

In non-tourney NCAA news: TCU loses women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie to Big 12 rival Kansas State and the Topeka Journal writes: Mittie finds perfect fit with K-State women’s basketball program – New Wildcat coach likes facilities, team potential

And yup, it’s not really a surprise, but LaTech is looking for a new coach.

In W news: Ruth Riley’s Passion for Sports Meets Her Passion for Helping Children

Need a little Becky Hammon Coaching Fix?

Speaking of coaching: Seattle Storm Names Shaquala Williams Assistant Coach

From Nate: Swish Appeal’s preliminary 2014 WNBA Draft Board and Evaluating 2014 mid-major WNBA draft prospects: How do we adjust for strength of competition?

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So, where are they going? Here’s the bracket.

So, what’s the reaction?

Sue at “They’re Playing Basketball,” has some quick thoughts.

Charlie goes “Huh?” at the missing Cardinal: Stanford deserved No. 1 seed – South Carolina’s No. 1 seed is puzzling; Louisville getting a 3 not as surprising

The answer to this year’s biggest burning question is right at the top of the bracket: Connecticut was sent to Lincoln, much to the satisfaction of most of the women’s college basketball world.

But a lot of other questions weren’t so easy to answer:

Michelle’s talking bracket winners and losers.

Graham says Tennessee faces toughest regional

Mechelle tries to spoke some road bumps for the Irish and Huskies:

Connecticut and Notre Dame have a chance to finish this season undefeated. The two former conference rivals are No. 1 seeds in the women’s NCAA tournament and could meet for the championship April 8 in Nashville, Tenn.

Of course, both teams will try to keep the focus on what’s right in front of them, not what’s down the road. Here’s a look at their potential paths before a possible clash of the titans.

She also cranks out Perfect approach for UConn, ND

After winning the ACC tournament, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw dodged discussion of her Irish and Connecticut potentially meeting in the women’s Final Four again.

McGraw drolly noted that she didn’t think the selection committee would have Notre Dame and UConn meeting in the first round; thus, she wasn’t going to focus on the Huskies.

 Of course, the two undefeated teams in this year’s NCAA women’s tournament are in opposite halves of the bracket, with the potential for an epic national championship game April 8 in Nashville, Tenn.

There have been seven undefeated champions in women’s basketball in the NCAA era, which began in the 1981-82 season. Four of them were UConn teams: 1995, 2002, 2009 and 2010. The others were Texas (1986), Tennessee (1998) and Baylor (2012). 

Interestingly enough, though, the only other time there were two unbeaten teams entering NCAA women’s tournament play, they actually did meet in the opening round.

ESPN’s five talking heads are doing some some quick analysis of the bracket.

Photos: It’s amazing… no, humbling, to see all the teams in their uniforms/regalia celebrating during the announcements and then seeing the Army women in their uniforms.

Speaking of Army, from the NY Times’ Zach Schonbrun: In Army’s Second N.C.A.A. Bid, a Bittersweet Connection to the First

At West Point, there was elation just to be included among the 64 best in the country. On Monday morning, Magarity received a text message from Jamie Dixon, the coach at Pittsburgh, congratulating the Black Knights for reaching the N.C.A.A. tournament for the second time. The first was in 2006, when the team was led by the vibrant oung coach Maggie Dixon, Jamie’s sister. Less than a month after losing in the first round to Tennessee, Dixon died from complications of an enlarged heart. She was 28.

Magarity was the associate coach of that 2005-6 team. Dixon’s sudden loss was “absolutely devastating,” Magarity said. It made him question whether coaching was the right path.

From Doug: Huskies, Irish, Lady Vols, Gamecocks earn 1 seeds (poke, poke, Muffet?)

Even though UConn and Notre Dame didn’t play this season, the two teams know plenty about each other having met 12 times over the previous three seasons. Notre Dame isn’t intimidated by Connecticut; the Irish have won seven of the past nine meetings with the Huskies.

”It was very unusual to go through a whole season without playing them, we’re so used to it, three times every year,” McGraw said. ”We’ve gotten pretty good at beating them the last couple of years.”

Have you checked out “Around The Rim” with Nell & Fran?

Random thoughts from me:

  • W/L: How about Stetson? How do those players and that program not deserve a chance over ASU and/or LSU?
  • Congrats Coach Scott — your friends at George Fox must be beaming.
  • The Old Big East sent seven to the Dance.
  • First round games I have my eye on: Gonzaga/JMU (Yes, LadySwish, Hard not to be in awe of Kenny Brooks and this JMU team), St. Joe’s/Georgia, DePaul/Oklahoma, PSU/Wichita, FGCU/Oklahoma State, Chattanooga/Syracuse

Finally, don’t get all het up about Stanford – Nerd Nation is chillin’

The other Dancin’ is happening at the WNIT. The field:

2014 Postseason
WNIT Teams
a=Automatic Berth

American (Patriot)
a-Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
a-Auburn (SEC)
Ball State (MAC)
a-Belmont (Ohio Valley)
a-Bowling Green (MAC)
Butler (Big East)
a-Cal Poly (Big West)
a-CSU Bakersfield (WAC)
Central Michigan (MAC)
Charlotte (Conference USA)
Colorado (Pac-12)
a-Colorado State (MWC)
a-Creighton (Big East)
a-Delaware (Colonial)
Duquesne (Atlantic 10)
East Carolina (Conference USA)
a-Furman (Southern)
George Washington (Atlantic 10)
a-Green Bay (Horizon)
Harvard (Ivy)
Hawaii (Big West)
a-High Point (Big South)
Indiana (Big Ten)
a-Indiana State (Missouri Valley)
a-Iona (Metro Atlantic)
IUPUI (Summit)
a-Lamar (Southland)
Marquette (Big East)
a-Miami (FL) (ACC)
Michigan (Big Ten)
a-Minnesota (Big Ten)
Mississippi State (SEC)
Missouri (SEC)
Montana (Big Sky)
a-Mount St. Mary’s (NEC)
a-Navy (Patriot)
a-North Carolina A&T (MEAC)
Northwestern (Big Ten)
Old Dominion (Conference USA)
Oregon (Pac-12)
a-Pacific (WCC)
a-Princeton (Ivy)
Quinnipiac (MAAC)
Rutgers (American)
Saint Mary’s (WCC)
San Diego (WCC)
Seton Hall (Big East)
SMU (American)
a-South Dakota State (Summit)
a-South Florida (American)
a-Southern Miss (Conference USA)
a-Southern Utah (Big Sky)
a-St. Bonaventure (Atlantic 10)
a-Stetson (Atlantic Sun)
a-Stony Brook (America East)
a-TCU (Big 12)
a-Texas Southern (SWAC)
Tulane (Conference USA)
UTEP (Conference USA 0
VCU (Atlantic 10)
Villanova (Big East)
a-Washington (Pac-12)
Washington State (Pac-12)

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A last look at the biggest questions – NCAA tournament bracket will be unveiled on ESPN/WatchESPN at 7 ET Monday

Not a lot of “questions” coming out of yesterday’s fun final day for the 2014 regulars season.

OPA! Young (international) players brought it from both teams, but  senior Spanou really “filled it uuup”  against St. Francis (PA) to help lead Robert Morris to the NEC championship.

“It’s the perfect ending for our senior year,” Spanou said after being chosen the tournament MVP. “We wanted this since we came here as freshmen … I’m just really happy and really proud of the team. We overcome some tough stuff. We got the ring.”

Saddled with three fouls in the first half, Wright State’s Kim Demmings came out in the second half like a fearless house-afire. Teamed with Tay’ler Mingo, and a defense that forced steal after steal after steal (the Raiders forced 24) and did what they’d never done before: Win on Green Bay’s home court. Which also meant the go to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

“It feels good, it’s obviously a feeling we’ve never had, so I don’t know how the ride back’s going to after a win,” said Wright State coach Mike Bradbury. “Probably better than the loss.”

James Madison made quick work of the Blue Hens on their way to the CAA championship. Lady Swish called this coach Kenny Brooks’ best JMU team – even better than the Dawn Evans era. Looking forward to seeing what they can do in the tournament.

“Their rebounding and our turnovers killed us,” Delaware head coach Martin said. “We rushed a lot on offense, and that’s because we were anxious and in a hurry. But even more important than that were their second-chance opportunities. They rebound the ball so well. They always have. They’ve got a tremendously athletic team and they get to the boards quicker than anybody in the CAA, and we didn’t put a body on them like we were going to have to.”

Fierce defense (they held the Lumberjacks to 32% shooting) and an unusual partnership produced great results for the Demons:

Two years ago, Northwestern State was 6-23 and brought in co-head coaches Brooke and Scott Stoehr to try to turn around the program.

The husband and wife team needed just two years to see results.

Chelsea Rogers scored 16 points Sunday and Northwestern State pulled away in the second half for a 62-44 victory over Stephen F. Austin in the Southland Conference championship, earning the Demons’ first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2004.

 Their dominant win over Drake means Wichita State is goin’ dancin’ – and so is their coach, Jody Adams:

Her slick disco-like gyrations brought a scream of delight from the players. “I only do it after championships,” Adams said. “It’s got to be for something special.”

“It was better the way she did it last year,” Alex Harden said. “But at least we made her do it again this time.”

I called it, if I do say so myself. Great game between two fierce rivals and, as it should be, it took overtime to separate the two: FGCU edged Stetson by two to with the Atlantic Sun title and an automatic bid to the tourney:

We’re there,” Smesko said. “And we’re going to prepare to win. We’re not going there being happy with the fact that we got there. We plan on representing the A-Sun and FGCU really well.”

Both have the same record, and it would be nice if the Committee could find a way to honor the Hatters’ season instead of offering a token tip o’ the hat to some “Big” conference team.

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If they want a chance to go dancing, they have to win:

CAA: No surprise James Madison is in the Finals, but their opponent is (somewhat surprising): the Blue Hens.

Discussing UD’s youth, Martin said, “This team has come so far this season. We’re so young and I’m so proud of these kids as they’ve grown so much in the past few months. Nobody thought Delaware would be sitting in this position right now. We’ve climbed the mountain all year long of people not believing in us and now we have a job to finish.”

Southland: Northwestern State (Lady) Demons v. the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks. (Sounds like a CW show) The teams split the regular season, each winning at home by double digits.

Horizon: #1 Green Bay will face off against #2 Wright State.

NEC: Upstart Robert Morris and their star from Greece, Artemis Spanou, will try and overcome St. Francis (PA), who’ve had a less than .500 season, but made the finals after an epic triple-overtime win over Sacred Heart and a tight win over Mount St. Mary’s. Thank goodness there are a couple of days between games.

MVC: The Shockers have righted their ship —  if they sail by 5th seed Drake their season will continue. But don’t take the Bulldogs lightly – they rallied to take down top-seed Indiana State.

A-SUN: This seems to be the game of the day. 26-6, 16-2) Stetson faces off against (25-7, 17-1) FGCU.  Will the Eagles fans show?

As for those Dancers:

Ball State couldn’t sustain the magic, nor stop 5th years senior Rachel Tecca (30-12). So, after 40 years, it’s the Zips who earns their first MAC trip to the NCAAs.

“This group of seniors is very, very special,” said Kest, in her eighth season at the school. “They believed in us when we recruited them. It’s not easy to come into a program that has had some losing seasons and to take a chance on us. It’s easy to go to a school that already has been successful and already has fans.”

The Zips tied the program record for single-season victories, which was set in 2012-2013.

Prairie View A&M DID sustain the magic, upsetting SWAC #2 seed, Texas Southern, earning their fourth consecutive championship title and sending a 14-17 team onto the dance floor. 

Washington added 20 points in the winning effort, which capped a season-long turnaround after the Lady Panthers lost their first 11 games under first-year coach Dawn Brown.

“I just let them know that you can’t let Texas Southern take this moment from you,” Brown said she told her team. “Since 2011, this is what Prairie View A&M University does. You see our best basketball in March.”

The third time was almost the charm for Coppin State, but Hampton prevailed in the MEAC championship game — by three points.

“When I woke up this morning,” Hamilton said, “I said to myself, I had to be a point guard today. We needed everybody in order to win. I actually wanted to play a part in the championship.”

Hamilton’s fingerprints were all over the title game, with a game-high 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a couple of blocks.

“She was overdue,” HU coach David Six said. “Nikki’s a big-time player — first-team all-conference. She’s been in these situations before. I’m glad she’s on my team and she was able to make some clutch shots for us.”

Sun Belt: A lot has happened to the Hilltopper program since they sent Shea Mahoney to the New York Liberty – and some of it not good. Different story yesterday as Western Kentucky came back from 14 down against Arkansas State to earn a berth to the NCAA tournament. And the video of the coaches celebrating is worth a thousand words.

Middle Tennessee State left no doubt as to who rules the C-USA, rolling over Southern Mississippi. 84-55.

“I feel like Middle Tennessee is one of the top 20 programs in the country,” Blue Raiders coach Rick Insell said. “We’re not the best program in the country, but we’re in the top 20, and we’re there every year.

“We’re real proud of what our program stands for. The basketball gurus know about Middle Tennessee, and they know that Middle Tennessee is a tough, tough team.”

Patriot: Army entered the NCAA tournament on the shoulders of Kelsey Minato, who scored 31 points to lead the Black Knights over a resilient Holy Cross, 68-58.

 “We had the great equalizer,” Magarity said of his sophomore guard. “She’s an incredible player and as special a player as I’ve ever coached in my 32 years as a head coach.

Mountain West: Fresno State knocked off top seed Colorado State, 77-68, and earned its fourth consecutive conference championship.

“I think (tournament experience) does help a lot, especially when teams go on runs,” Farley said. “If you’re not experienced, you can get really frazzled in that type of situation. Us being more experienced, we learned to accept the runs and not freak out, if that makes sense. It definitely did help us today.”

Big West: It’s been 23 years, and this is only the second time the Cal State Northridge team has gone dancing, this time by virtue of their 15-point win over Cal Poly.

“Every day is a championship day for us,” Matadors coach Jason Flowers said. “The intensity never drops off, whether it’s a shootaround or weights or conditioning. These young women have prepared for this moment for the past two or three years. I was interested to see how they would respond to being on the big stage. They woke up this morning in great spirits, they were really relaxed and I just stayed out of their way and they worked their tails off.”

North Dakota left no doubt as to who was going to earn the Big Sky bid to the NCAA, handily beating Robin Selvig’s Montana, 72-55.

The win was historic for UND (22-9). The Green and White will play in the Big Dance for the first time in program history.

“Credit Montana, a very well-coached team that battled,” North Dakota coach Travis Brewster said. “But it’s an exciting experience for these players to get a chance to play in the NCAA tournament and to do it in front of our fans was awesome. It’s a pretty unique honor and takes a special group.”

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William Joel Dunn, 71, of Meriden died at home early Saturday, March 15, 2014. Born in New Haven on June 30, 1942, he was the son of the late Irving and Ethel Dunn. He is survived by his brother Saul Eli Dunn, sister Susan Dunn Starr, niece Beth Starr Lovell and her husband Michael and their son Aaron, nephew Jonathan Starr, cousins Elma T. Guttenberg, Miriam Galewitz, Charlotte Krosnick, Abigail Caplan, Priscilla Caplan, Ellen Barson and their families.

Known as Husky Bill on the Boneyard, he was a lifelong, dedicated UCONN husky fan who, with his brother, traveled to approximately one thousand men’s and women’s basketball games, including driving to and between championship games in New Orleans and San Antonio in 2004.

Unknown

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Okay, they get away with the name ONLY because they’re from Chickasha: Former player remembers last Lady Chicks state trip.

The last time a Lady Chicks basketball team went to state, none of the current squad, technically, existed.

It was 1995, the first internet search engine, Yahoo!, had just been invented; in that early spring time no one was aware of the fate facing the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, and the WNBA wasn’t even around. The feelings inside the Lady Chicks’ camp then are now being played out once again.

“None of these girls were born yet, I was a freshman in college; that really puts it in perspective,” head coach Christy Edelen said. “It’s an honor that doesn’t come around too often.”

On the move in the W: Sun Acquire Bentley; Lawson Reunited With Thibault In D.C.

The reshaping of the WNBA‘s Connecticut Sun began in a big way Wednesday with the trade of veteran guard Kara Lawson to the Washington Mystics.

The three-way deal with the Atlanta Dream brings Alex Bentley, the former Penn State guard, to the Sun.

The day began with Washington trading guard Matee Ajavon and its second-round pick, the 18th in the draft, to Atlanta for Bentley and a third-round pick (No. 32) in this year’s draft.

Also on the move: Mercury trade for Erin Phillips from the Indiana Fever

The Mercury announced a trade Tuesday, acquiring guard Erin Phillips from the Indiana Fever in exchange for forward Lynetta Kizer and a first-round draft pick.

Phillips, a six-year veteran with the Fever and Connecticut Sun, has averaged 6.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 152 games (67 starts), and won the 2012 WNBA championship as a member of the Fever.

The trades awaken Richard at WNBAlien: Grading the Trade: Phoenix filch Phillips from Fever for 1st and Grading the Trade: Three-way deal sends Lawson to D.C., Bentley to Connecticut, and confusion to Atlanta (with Matee Ajavon)

It’s Famous Fan Friday – Jackson backs the Swans

If this weekend’s Sydney Derby is a battle for NSW fans, then Australian basketball champion Lauren Jackson has already picked her side.

The Seattle Storm forward, who has been granted a season of leave from her WNBA commitments to recover from knee and ankle surgery, will be back home in Australia this year and will be supporting her beloved ‘Swannies’ throughout the 2014 season.

Speaking of LJ: Jackson, Taylor in Australia training squad

Still speaking of LJ: Australian Basketball Legend Lauren Jackson Joins Athlete Ally

“I respect all of my friends, family and teammates for the people they are. That’s why I feel it’s important to advocate for equality for the LGBT in sports and beyond. Joining Athlete Ally as an Ambassador is a way for me to publicly express this support, and I’m delighted to become a part of such an important cause,” Jackson said.  

Congrats: Katie Smith to Receive OHSAA Ethics and Integrity Award

Congrats: Indy Pride & More Team Up with Indiana Fever for Diversity Night – The trend of professional sports teams aligning with LGBT individuals and groups makes its way to Indianapolis.

WATN? Former WNBA player Edna Campbell headlines Rays of Hope Breast Cancer Survivors’ Day

From the Advertiser’s Al Karré: Former UL athlete deserves place of honor

In February, The Daily Advertiser, in celebration of Black History Month, ran a picture of former Ragin’ Cajun and WNBA basketball star Kim Perrot.

Now, during Women’s History Month, it is equally appropriate to honor her.

It has been a little more than 14 years since her passing, but in the hearts and minds of basketball fans, she continues to live on as a shining example of excellence at the highest level of sports.

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basketball world is still working hard for their Dancin’ Shoes.

Considering the start of their respective seasons, I would have thought Green Bay would be the one sitting home and Bowling Green would be packing for the tournament. Instead, Ball State stunned the #25 Phoenix with a stomping’ – 73-55. They’ll go up against Akron (another “surprise” winner, this time over Central Michigan, who’d lost POY-DPOY Bradford to a knee injury) for the MAC championship.

Horizon: Green Bay took care of UIC , and so they’ll host the Wright State Raiders, who clubbed the Penguins, 98-70, to decide who gets their ticket punched.

Hampton is rollin’ in the MEAC but they won’t be challenged by North Carolina A&T, because they fell to Coppin State, 57-55.

C-USA comes to Southern Miss v. MTSU. Getting there was harder than one might think for the #1  in conference, who faced upstart Florida International. But the Blue Raiders prevailed, 64-57. Southern Miss rode the hot hand of senior point guard Jamierra Faulkner (C-USA’s all-time leader in assists) to take down U-TEP, 84-70.

In the SWAC, Texas Southern (20-11, 15-3) needed OT (of course) to escape Jackson State (15-15, 12-6), 79-77. They won’t have to go up against their regular season challenger, Southern (20-8, 16-2), ’cause they were wiped out by upstart Prairie View A&M (13-17, 11-7), 72-43.

It took TRIPLE overtime, but Colorado State continued its fabulous Mountain West season by defeating Wyoming, 95-92. They’ll face traditional MW powerhouse Fresno State in the finals.

WAC: Still a chance for a Vandal (or two) in the Tourney for the second year in a row. Idaho, who’s 15-1 in the conference, came back from 6 down at the half over New Mexico State. In the final, they’ll face Seattle U., which has had a balanced season (16-15) which usually doesn’t mean Dancin’ would be an option. BUT, they defeated CSU Bakersfield, 84-79.

Big West: Cal Poly v. CS Northridge.

Sometimes the team that is supposed to win can still be the underdog. Sometimes Goliath is the better story.

It won’t qualify as a surprise if Cal State Northridge earns a place in the NCAA tournament bracket. The Matadors won the regular-season championship in the Big West, their first, and are the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament that concludes this weekend in Anaheim. They enter Friday’s semifinal against the lowest remaining seed (ESPN3, 3 p.m. ET) with Big West Player of the Year Ashlee Guay on their side, as well as the conference’s top defender, Camille Mahlknecht, and two more all-conference selections, Janae Sharpe and Cinnamon Lister.

They aren’t overwhelming favorites, not after edging a crowded field by a game in the regular season, but they are first in line to earn the one and only NCAA bid the league will get.

Patriot: Holy Cross v. Army.

Say what you want about history repeating itself but Saturday’s Patriot League championship matchup between Army and Holy Cross is about 2014 and not about the epic 2006 matchup that made late coach Maggie Dixon famous.

Dave Magarity was Army’s associate head coach that season. Magarity and the current Army team watched video of the 2006 title game this week in an idea that was part motivation, part history lesson. Members of that championship team have sent messages of support to the current players, and some will be on hand for the 6 p.m. contest.

Big Sky: Could there be a team from North Dakota in the Tournament? UND will go for their first shot at a D-I spot (UND appeared in 19 NCAA Division II national tournaments.). In their way: Montana, who came back from 13 down to defeat Southern Utah, 73-69. Last match-up tween these two teams, went Montana’s way, 52-49.

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Patriot: Army did what it had to against American, and, Inspired by Maggie’s spirit, Knights refused to lose

Sometimes things just happen the way they are supposed to in sports. There is not always an easy explanation for why, or how, but rather some other phenomenon — happenstance, fate, whatever.

So it was early in the week that Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons texted his Army counterpart Dave Magarity. The words floated off Gibbons’ phone, like a butterfly. “Maggie will be smiling if we both get to West Point,” it said.

Holy Cross then did what it had to do to join Army, keeping their program record of  conference tourneys by stopping (and stomping) Navy. Pretty impressive of the Crusaders and coach Gibson, considering the upheaval that launched their season.

Summit: Nothing like an in-state rivalry to stir things up. The Jackrabbits got stunned by South Dakota ( first tournament loss after 15 consecutive victories.). The Coyotes then built on their success by defeating Denver (who’d ended IUPUI’s season of resurgence — in OT, of course.), earning their first NCAA bid.

America East: Albany’s Great Danes made quick work of the Sea Wolves – getting revenge for that blemish on their conference record, and earning a trip to the Dance.

MAAC: The first half, Quinnipiac had the Red Foxes on the ropes. Second half, Marist recovered to win their 9th straight conference tourney championship:

“The thing is that they persevered,” Marist coach Brian Giorgis said. “We broke the game down into where we wanted to be. We didn’t panic. We took it at them and made big shots down the stretch, made great decisions down the stretch.”

WCC: Saint Mary’s fought in the semis, but there was no doubt as Gonzaga roared over BYU to another WCC title – their sixth in seven years.

During that 20-minute shooting slump, the Cougars were unable to get the ball inside to Hamson, the WCC Player of the Year.

“We couldn’t get the ball to her because of (Gonzaga’s) pressure,” Judkins said. “Jen had a great tournament. I wish we could have gotten her the ball more. I think we would have been a lot better off. … We kind of got on our heels and we didn’t attack like we should have.”

It’s streaky!! Sims got a little banged up, and the Mountaineers got a little stubborn, but Baylor managed to snag their fourth consecutive Big 12 title.

Next! Chattanooga wiped out Davidson to earn the Southern crown. Said coach Foster: “We’re a good team,” Foster said. “It’s about time we start showing folks just how good.”

Huge win for the Penn State Quakers. They handily defeated the Princeton Tigers to earn a seat in the NCAA tournament. The Ivy League is the only conference in the country that doesn’t have a postseason tournament to decide its champion.

“I’m not a fan of an Ivy tournament. The reason is we need to send our best teams,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said. “Imagine if Penn had lost to Dartmouth and we had lost to Brown and we’re not sending our best team. I feel confident Penn has earned it. They beat us on our home floor later in the season.”

Oh, and UConn won the inaugural American Conference title.

So, what about those pesky seedings?

From John Altavilla: Favorites Falling Adds Some Mystery To Seeding

However, ESPN‘s bracketologist, Charlie Creme, has been sticking by his guns, continuing to place UConn as the No. 1 to Louisville’s No. 2 in Kentucky.

For that to happen, however, the committee would essentially need to rank the Cardinals last among the No. 2 seeds, setting up a 1-8 scenario with UConn.

“How do I answer that question [about seeding] without being reprimanded,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “I’d lose my shirt, my per diem, everything.”

From Kevin Duffy: Fair or not, UConn may have to play regional at Louisville

The UConn women gashed their seventh top 10 opponent Monday night at The Sun, and in a week they very well could be named the No. 1 seed in the Louisville regional. As in, at the Yum! Center. As in, the reward for the group that just completed perhaps the best regular season ever could be a straight-up away game versus second-seeded Louisville in a hostile environment in the Elite Eight.

Tell me how that’s fair.

From Charlie: Louisville isn’t for UConn after all – Lincoln Regional makes much more sense for top-seeded Huskies

Connecticut has been an obvious No. 1 seed for some time. So the biggest question concerning the Huskies has been at which regional they will play their games.

Louisville or Lincoln? In the same region with rival Louisville, or farther away in Nebraska? Louisville has been my answer all season.

Until now.

What has prompted me to change my mind?

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After upsetting the Cardinal, USC looked like they had nothing left as they faced Oregon State. But, Coop helped them “raise the roof” and earn a trip to the dance.

If there was a title to the story of the Southern California women’s basketball team over the past decade, it might be: “Promise Lost.”

The talent, the potential, the parade of All-Americans that should have made this one of the premier programs on the West Coast, seemed to dissolve into a smoldering heap every single year.

There was the cruel succession of ACL injuries that cut short the careers of Jackie Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath, who were among the most elite recruits in the country when they committed to USC. There were inexplicable late-season losses to lower-division conference teams that would leave the Trojans’ résumé lacking when it came in front of the NCAA committee. There were coaching changes and personality conflicts and, to be very honest, a whole lot of underachievement.

But USC changed the narrative on Sunday night at KeyArena.

Scott Rueck will await the Committee to see if he’s managed to shift the Pac12 paradigm. As the Oregonian asks: If Scott Rueck leads Oregon State women to NCAA Tournament, how big of an accomplishment is it?

Speaking of the Committee, Charlie tries to work through their headache predict AND explain the brackets.

Fordham took any mystery out of the Committee’s hands by upsetting Dayton to claim the A-10 crown. This accomplishment is six years removed from their 0-for season and gives New Zealander Rooney what she missed by a sliver last year: An NCAA berth.

We’ve been watching this unfold over the season: High Point v. Winthrop. In the end, Dequesha McClanahan leads Winthrop to first-ever Big South title

“What a game and what a tournament. I’m very proud of our players, this program and very thankful to our administration and all of our loyal fans and supporters that were here and suffered without a championship for over 30 years,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook. “That’s what really makes it meaningful for them and our team.”

Yes, THAT Kevin Cook.

After an up and down season on and off the court, Nebraskan sophomore Rachel Theriot took control of the Huskers future and guided them to their first Big 10 conference title.

“It was a game where we couldn’t make a shot, but we found a way to win,” Husker coach Connie Yori said. “That says a lot about our mental toughness. We did a great job on the offensive glass. Every game doesn’t come down to playing pretty, but you find a way to win.”

No surprise, the Irish claimed their first AAC title – but were you a little surprised by how close the game was (at first)?

When is two points more than two points? When it’s a basket that sends a figurative bolt of electricity through a team and its fans. And that was exactly what Jewell Loyd’s alley-oop did in the second half of the ACC tournament title game.

The Fighting Irish are champions of their new league, and they will go into the NCAA tournament undefeated at 32-0. They execute offensively, are patient even when things aren’t clicking as well (which is rare, but happens), and are very dependable on defense.

But … they are also just really darn fun to watch.

Yes, a bit of a surprise, because of the upset of South Carolina, but Kentucky falling apart at the end? Not so surprising this season. Tennessee’s SEC title might give them a #1 seed, which would be (be honest) a surprise.

Tennessee adopted the motto of “Grind for Nine” at the beginning of this season, referencing the team’s blue-collar mentality as it pursues the program’s ninth national championship. The Lady Vols haven’t been to the Final Four since 2008, which is also the last year they won a national title. Back then, Pat Summitt coached the Lady Vols, before resigning in 2012 because of health reasons. Warlick, Summitt’s longtime assistant, became the team’s head coach.

The conference tournament title won Sunday was the first for Warlick as a head coach. As she accepted the trophy afterward, she said hello to her longtime mentor, who did not make the trip. “I want to say hi to Pat Summitt,” Warlick said to the crowd. “I know she is watching this broadcast.”

The crowd erupted in cheers.

Yes, most of us had Marist v. Iona penciled in to the MAAC finals. Quinnipiac decided to erase that prediction.

“(Quinnipiac) did a great job executing,” first-year Iona coach Billi Godsey said. “When it comes down to it, we didn’t do a terribly wonderful job of stopping them in the defensive end.”

BTW, there was news in the MAAC quarters as the Rider team scored its biggest win in years — maybe ever — with a 63-56 upset of Fairfield.

Interesting games coming up:

BYU women’s basketball: Cougars will meet “scary” Pacific in WCC semifinals Monday. Of course, the other WCC semi is classic rematch: Gonzaga v. St. Mary’s.

America East: Stony Brook continues to surge under coach Beth O’Boyle — and gets a second shot at Albany for their efforts. Can they pull off the upset – again?

Quakers v. Tigers: Penn (21-6, 11-2 Ivy) and Princeton (20-7, 11-2 Ivy) are both tied atop the Ivy standings and face each other in the season finale at Jadwin Gym on Tuesday (5:30 p.m.). The winner earns the outright Ivy League title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The loser has already clinched second place and therefore, an automatic berth in the WNIT.

Davidson will try and stop Chattanooga‘s quest for the Southern Conference title.

Same old, same old in the Patriot semis: Navy v Holy Cross, Army v. American, with a little extra oomph:

However, Gibbons readily admits the greatest motivation comes from preserving history as Holy Cross wants to prevent Navy from equaling its feat of capturing four consecutive Patriot League Tournament championships. The Crusaders set that standard from 1998 through 2001 under the direction of Gibbons.

“We certainly would like to stop them from tying our record,” Gibbons said. “We’re playing for a lot of alumni who were part of that great run.”

Yup, it’s UConn (with Stewart’s block earning a SportsCenter nod) agains the Cardinals. In the classic, “Careful what you wish for,” the New York Times notes that “Louisville Confronts Elephant in Its Room”

For all the strides the Louisville women have made in becoming a perennial basketball power, the climb to the top remains daunting. Connecticut, the Cardinals’ opponent in the final of the American Athletic Conference tournament Monday night, has won 14 straight against them.

Speaking of former Big East teams: It’s the Mountaineers hunting Bears in the Big 12 title game. Remember Sims’ 48 against West Virginia in January? And the rematch in March? (TV: Fox Sports 1?)

From the Boston Globe, some nice coverage of Barb Stevens at Bentley: Barbara Stevens has Bentley women’s basketball program point toward perfection

This is where it all happens, in Barbara Stevens’s warm and inviting office on the second floor of Bentley University’s Dana Center. A large bookshelf behind her neatly arranged desk in the far left corner of the room is adorned with trophies and nets cut down from Northeast-10 title games and framed photos of the teams she has coached in 28 seasons as the head coach of Bentley’s wildly successful women’s basketball program.

“I keep telling my players if they keep winning them, then I’ll keep putting them up,’’ Stevens jokingly remarked to an office visitor Thursday afternoon.

But this is where Bentley’s unrelenting pursuit of perfection is mapped out on a daily basis. It is where Stevens doggedly prepares through exhaustive film study and advanced scouting. And, as anyone will tell you, Stevens, 58, is nothing if not a evangelical minister of the coaching gospel, “Practice makes perfect.’’

Also from the Globe, there are a couple of back-and-forth stories: Bullying accusations continue against BU coach Kelly Greenberg.

I think we may have heard this coming a few years back: K-State women’s basketball coach Deb Patterson fired after 18 seasons

Happier news out of the Sunflower state: They stumbled, but didn’t fall: Wichita State’s women’s basketball wins second consecutive MVC title. The conference tourney looms.

Coale is guaranteed $1.01 million per season, but bonuses and fringe benefits will lift her annual compensation well beyond that figure. Lot of money for the coach of an 18-13 basketball team that enters the Big 12 Tournament this weekend in the league’s lower division.

But Coale isn’t paid just for basketball. She’s paid for her ambassador skills. She’s paid for her promotional and PR skills. Coale is a virtual spokesmodel for the university, be it talking to engineering alumni or youth groups or coaches all across the country or all of America itself, courtesy of Northwestern Mutual.

When Coale talks about the importance of sport in young girls’ lives, or the importance of education, or the importance of hard work to fulfill dreams, people listen. Some of those people are impressionable. Others are influential. Coale reaches them all. I’ve said it before; Coale’s next job won’t be coaching a basketball team, it will be vice president of the university.

A little W news:

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Tell that to Stanford, South Carolina, Penn State and Maryland.

Just sayin’….

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A Record of Courage May Add a New Mark – Harvard Women’s Basketball Coach Tied for Most Ivy League Wins

Coach Kathy Delaney and her Westwood High School girls basketball team returned from a road game in the mid-1970s to find their locker room occupied by a visiting boys squad. The girls, tired, sweaty and eager to retrieve their belongings, were told to wait.

Although Delaney had suggested to officials at Westwood, in Massachusetts, alternative space for visitors to dress, this was hardly the first time such a conflict had occurred. She made certain it was the last.

“Girls,” she announced to her startled teenagers, “we’re going in.”

She barged past the math teacher guarding the door, and chaos ensued.

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#2 Notre Dame is rollin’, rollin’, rollin‘ the ACC. regular and, most likely, post-season. And yes, it was nice for UNC to defeat Duke, but let’s remember who the Blue Devils had riding the bench. That being said, congrats to Coach Hatchell, presented the 2014 Kay Yow Champion Award (h/t Sheila).

#7 West Virginia is upsettin’, upsettin’, upsettin’ the Big 12 (as most of the teams are free-falling). From Nate:

Just a week ago, SB Nation’s West Virginia site The Smoking Musket had a post updescribing why the Mountaineers women’s basketball team wasn’t getting the respect they deserve in the national polls.

Well, the team handled business on the court on Sunday to fix that.

With a win over Baylor in Waco on Sunday, they’re now ranked #7/8 in the polls and right on pace for a #2 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament (barring something crazy like Duke winning theACC tournament happening). And the narrative of what makes this team a potential sleeper in the hunt for a final four spot has taken hold: veteran experience (sorry, Albert).

#1 UConn is stompin’, stompin’, stompin’ the AAC, with #3 Louisville hoverin’, hoverin‘ hoverin’ right behind. And, as always, “Thanks, Graham.” Cardinals, community embrace Shoni – Fans come from all corners for senior night, Native American Appreciation Night

Schimmel finished with nine points, again unable to crack the code against one of the only teams left to beat. Four times she tried in the past 14 months. Four times the shots didn’t fall.

What was remarkable was that 22,163 people cleared off their cars or waited out airlines after yet another blast of winter overnight in the Louisville area and then trudged over uncleared downtown sidewalks because they believe in her.

Native American fans. Louisville fans. Basketball fans.

Anyone who appreciates a good story, really.

“I know a lot of people were traveling, and a lot of people were coming here,” Schimmel said. “And so, you know, it’s great for them to travel across the country to watch a game that’s on TV. It’s very special to me because they are Native American, and they’re coming out to just watch us. For them to do that, it’s pretty cool.”

Boink! Stony Brook shocked the heck outta the Danes, 66-56. The Seawolves earned the second seed in the conference tourney, because UNH lost to Maine (I warned ya about ’em).

The Flyers are atop the A-10, but the conference tourney championship is no guarantee.

Wow, what a traffic jam in the Big 10!! But the story of the week was (thanks, Swish Appeal) Purdue’s senior day win over Nebraska includes surprise return of KK Houser.

Most assumed KK Houser had played her last game on Keady Court after she tore her ACL in East Lansing against Michigan State a month ago. Fortunately for KK she would play for the fans in Mackey one more time. KK came out and went through warm-ups and started the game Sunday alongside April Wilson, Liza Clemons and fellow seniors Dee Dee Williams and Courtney Moses. KK played the first 2:34. While KK was a bit of a defensive liability Purdue had a 2-0 lead when she checked out…KK Houser entered the game briefly at end before returning to the bench amid a standing ovation. In those last minutes she was able to pull down two rebounds.

JMU recovered from its “WTH?” loss to the College of Charleston, and it’s hard to imagine they’ll get much of a threat from the rest of the CAA folks.

Phoenix and Penguins and Raiders, “Oh, my!” That’s the Horizon.

Ah, the “don’t pigeon hole me” Ivy. It’s the Quakers, Tigers and Crimson. (Coach Delaney-Smith has tied the record for most wins by Ivy League coach.) From Mel:

The victory for Penn (19-6, 9-2 Ivy League) put this edition of the Quakers to second all-time in program history behind the 22 in 2000-01 that belonged to the first of two contingents that became Ivy champs.

Coach Mike McLaughlin’s bunch have stayed the course while losing critical parts of the roster, the most recent this past week when Katy Allen was lost the rest of the way after suffering a foot injury.

But Kathleen Roche, a 5-11 junior guard, stepped up big time, knocking down six three-pointers, one short of a Penn record, on the way to 20 points.

“It’s incredible how people step up and Keen works extra hard, she’s in the gym before all of us and it really showed tonight,” Baron said. “Even with Katy out, it really hurts us, but it just shows that other people like (freshman) Stephanie Cheyney (seven points off the bench) or others are willing to step up.”

Penn goes up against Princeton March 11th. Will a NCAA bid be on the line?

This is why I’m glad I’m not on the Selection Committee: Marist gets its revenge on Iona, and the MAAC is now all tied up. Let’s say they meet a third time, this time in the conference championship. What do you do with the loser? Oh, and from Kevin Armstrong at the NY Daily News: Hoosiers on the Hudson: How Brian Giorgis transformed little Marist into monster mid-major women’s basketball program.

Giorgis laughed; glasses clinked. A teetotaler known to down Diet Cokes as early as 5 a.m., Giorgis looked at the crowd. He outlined the demands of maintaining a top midmajor program, accruing a .778 winning percentage over the last 11 winters, winning 10 consecutive conference titles, collecting five NCAA Tournament victories and outdrawing 7 of 10 men’s teams in the MAAC. He spared the supporters the specifics of his side obsession, declining to mention the memorabilia shrine dedicated to Derek Jeter in his bedroom or the emails from eBay that ping on his phone when he gets outbid by a competitor. Balance, to Giorgis, is keeping a photo of himself holding a T-206 Honus Wagner card on the same office shelf with a glass slipper that a fan gifted him to celebrate a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 in 2007. He daydreams about claiming another.

“It’s been a nice fairy tale,” he said. 

The Mid-American is equally vexing, with Central Michigan and Bowling Green looking like the cream of the crop. The Chippewas overall record likely excludes them from the NCAAs, but what do you do with the Falcons if CMU wins? Oh, did you catch this at SlamOnline? Chip Shot – Crystal Bradford is creating a legacy at Central Michigan.

Crystal Bradford’s mother had a vision that her daughter would go to Central Michigan, a program that before last season hadn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 1984.

“My mom really wanted me to go here,” the Detroit native recalls. “I really didn’t want to. But she kept saying, ‘I had a vision,’ and ‘God’s got a plan for you.’” A bit dubious, but ready to create a legacy, CB turned down the likes of Louisville and Michigan State and traveled northwest to put Mt. Pleasant, MI, on the map.

After leading the Chippewas in points, rebounds, blocks and steals as a soph in 2012-13, she exploded onto the national scene in March when she hung 36 points, 14 rebounds and 7 steals on 2-seeded Oklahoma in the Tourney.

Hampton is top dog in the MEAC, but their final game is against second place North Carolina A&T. Can the Bulldogs sink the Pirates?

I take my eye off Wichita, get swamped by work, and what happens? They lose three straight. Suddenly the Missouri Valley crown is up for grabs, and the Sycamores are interested.

Hello? Colorado State rules the Mountain West? They got their revenge (at home) v. Fresno State. Can they end the season (at home) and get even with Wyoming? From the Mountain West Connection: 

A team that was picked to finish seventh in the preseason polls had completed a stunning one-year turnaround filled with record breaking performances en route to their first title in twelve years. The numerous records they set read much better in list form…

  • Most three pointers in a game (19)
  • First triple-double in Colorado State history (Ellen Nystrom)
  • Largest margin of victory since 2001 (60 points vs Air Force)
  • Second fewest points allowed (28 vs. Air Force)
  • First victory at The Pit in 16 years
  • First season with two 100-point games since 2001
  • Most Mountain West victories ever (14 and counting)
  • Third most free throws made (34)
  • Three players with double-doubles in one game in 35 years
  • Second-most assists in CSU history (14, Gritt Ryder)
  • Fourth longest home winning streak (12 and counting)

… I think you get the point. All of these accolades are even more astounding when you think of where this team was just a year ago. After a disappointing tenure under Coach Kristen Holt, Ryun Williams and an all-star cast of former head coaches were brought in to restore the Rams to their former glory days.

Doesn’t look like UT Martin will get much of a challenge in Ohio Valley (throwing salt over her shoulder).

Yah, Stanford is still the boss of the Pac-12, but anyone else detecting some fault lines in their throne? (Oh, and anyone want a job? Oregon won’t renew contract of coach Paul Westhead)

Sure, Navy took the conference title (first outright Patriot League regular season title in school history), but Army and American have taken their measure ain’t they ain’t afraid. Bring on the conference tournament!

The Mocs are unblemished in the Southern. The danger is looking ahead to the NCAA brackets. Take care of business, and then see what the Foster-led team can do against non-conference folks.

Honestly, the Southland is a bit of a hot mess. That last game between Central Arkansas v. Stephen F. Austin could set the tone for their conference tourney.

Speaking of hot messes — look no further than the Blue Raider-less Sun Belt.

It’s Gonzaga (10th straight conference title) or whoever can put together a great game in the WCC.

It looks like the WAC will give the NCAA tourney a Road Runner, a Vandal (first regular season title!) or an Antelope. It’s like choosing your favorite child!

ESPN gets into the swing of Conference Tourney Time:

SLIDESHOW: CONFERENCE FROSH OF THE YEAR

SLIDESHOW: LEAGUE COACHES OF THE YEAR

Full Court starts with their Bubble Wrap 2014: Who’s headed to the Big Dance? (Week 1)

They also offer up a 2014 SEC Tournament preview: More competitive than ever

The days of at least a semi-predictable SEC Tournament are long gone, and perhaps no more so than this season. This year, the conference was so competitive — not only at the very top, but all the way from top to bottom — that when the regular season finally wrapped up on Sunday, conference administrators were likely whipping out their sliderules to compute all the tie breakers.

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