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from Full Court:

Jim Clark: Notre Dame, UConn rule the Big East, and its last tournament as a major conference

I hate college football.

Greedy college presidents looking for football TV money have eviscerated the Big East, arguably the best basketball conference in the country over the last ten years. Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami wandered away in the last decade. Now the seven catholic institutions are seceding together. Rutgers is going to the Big 10 in 2014 (or sooner if they pay an exit fee), Louisville and Notre Dame are off to the ACC.

When “re-alignment” is over, UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida are all that will be left of the conference that has sent eight teams to the women’s NCAA Tournament the last two years. Nobody knows what that conference will be called. No one is quite sure what additional teams will be added and no one knows yet which conference will get the Big East automatic bid to the tournament. I’ll leave explanation of all the machinations still pending to the football writers.

Clay: NCAA seeds at stake in Big 12 tourney

It doesn’t matter to Baylor – but the Big 12 Tournament could make the path to the Sweet 16 a lot easier for teams that play well.

The Bears are going to be a top seed no matter what happens in their first-round game Friday against the winner of the Thursday’s Kansas State-Texas game. Even should one of the Big 12 bottomfeeders pull off an upset for the ages, it won’t affect Baylor’s chances of winning a national title at all – and it wouldn’t even help Kansas State or Texas unless the winner rode that momentum all the way to the conference title.

Paul Gackle at the SF Examiner says Cal, Stanford women’s basketball appear destined to meet this week in Pac-12 women’s tourney

James Kelley says, Arizona women’s basketball must dominate Pac-12 tournament to reach NCAA’s

Seattle’s Q13 has this story: Husky women’s basketball: Overcoming odds on and off court

The Husky women’s basketball team heads into the Pac-12 Conference Tournament after posting their best record since 2007.

And they’re ready, to say the least.

“I think it’s a real testament to the competitive character of our players that they didn’t accept that we had some limitations; therefore, couldn’t have success,” head coach Kevin McGuff said.

Marcus Fuller at the Pioneer Press wonders:  Gophers women’s basketball: Pam Borton’s secret deal a big deal for Big Ten tourney?

From the outside looking in, Pam Borton’s job status no longer appears tenuous, her team’s performance entering tournament season apparently no longer critical to the immediate future of Minnesota’s women’s basketball coach.

When Gophers athletics director Norwood Teague revealed last week that predecessor Joel Maturi had quietly given Borton a two-year contract extension last June, the women’s basketball coach no longer had to worry about a deal that would expire after next season. A new buyout clause was more university-friendly, but Borton needed a new deal to focus on rebuilding.

FC also has some player features.

Cal – Gennifer Brandon
Colorado – Chucky Jeffery
Maryland – Tianna Hawkins
Notre Dame – Natalie Achonwa
Penn State – Maggie Lucas

Time to revisit Vickie “Just Call Me Winner of the WBCA Mel Greenberg Award Media Award” Friedman’s look at the Mid-Majors:

We’re betting you’ve heard the name Elena Delle Donne.

But how about Naama Shafir, Jerica Coley or Victoria McGowan? You might not be as familiar with their credentials, but the Toledo offensive machine, the explosive Florida International guard and the Stetson floor general (who set an impressive Division I mark last season) have plenty of them.

Learn move below, along with info on several other monster resumes in a list we’ve compiled of this year’s best players from the non-BCS conferences.

Graham focuses on EDD: Elena shines in and out of spotlight – We rarely see Delle Donne play, but her story and game are as good as it gets

Most of the country didn’t experience Elena Delle Donne’s final regular-season home game.

There wasn’t a national television audience for the Colonial Athletic Association game between Delaware and Georgia State as there was when Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame played Connecticut on Monday night.

What transpired wasn’t likely to become part of any national conversation, as it did when Baylor’s Brittney Griner went for 50 points in her regular-season home finale the same night as the triple-overtime thriller in South Bend.

Basketball operates on a smaller scale in the second-smallest state.

Beth, Debbie and the Nell-ster discuss the upcoming NCAA tournament on their podcast.

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Texas senior Cokie Reed and junior Chelsea Bass retire from basketball

On the opposite side of the spectrum, looks like Duke commit Becca Greenwell took a little inspiration from the FGCU Eagles — making 17 three-pointers in a game. Oh, and so did a high school team: Michigan girls basketball squad sets new state record with incredible 22 made 3-pointers)

How’s Kim doing at her new gig in Michigan? It’s still early, but consider this: Women’s basketball ranked for first time since 2002

Their in-state rivals won their first Big 10 game of the season.

It ain’t easy being a Buckeye these days: They took Purdue to three OTs but,  their Valiant effort ends in defeat

It ain’t easy being a Ute, neither: Cold-shooting Utah loses to No. 23 Colorado

Make that “Hatters 6-0 in the A-Sun.”

Ditto with the 3-happy Eagles.

Got a little WATN? for ya: Usha Gilmore Named New Women’s Basketball Coach

And here’s a little, “You Stay Put” for ya: Silver Stars head coach accepts contract extension

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First win for Arkansas — ever — in Knoxville against the Vols. It took OT, and Stricklen is going to be kickin’ herself for a while. But I know that my friends Candy and Teddy are jumping up and down (even though T is an enormous Pat/Vols fan.). For Charlie, the Vols are still a #2.

First Big Ten win of the season for Indiana, as the seniors go out on a good, but tense (the win rested on the shoulder of a 44% FT shooter. Sound familiar?), night with a 2pt win over Wisconsin. The photos remind me of what Navratilova said about herself compared to, say the #100 ranked player: Winning is easy. Coming back, game after game, when you’re losing? That’s hard.

A first for Senior Night and Ohio State’s program: Prahalis scores a record 42 and makes sure the Gophers don’t even SNIFF an upset.

It’s been a season of firsts for Nikki Caldwell as first-year coach at LSU. The Tigers beat Vandy and earned their 20th win of the season.

A first-class stomping of Nebraska by the surging Spartans: 73-53.

First time I’ve said this: Shockers get shocked by Redbirds, 68-62.

Not really a first, but up there in terms of accomplishment: 6,532 in attendance at UTEP to witness the Miners’ earn the C-USA regular season title.

No firsts involved, just noting that EUI got surprised by Morehead State, and SIEU beat Eastern Kentucky, so the OVC got a tad tighter.

FIU (W flashback: Nagy’s alma) and MTSU of the Sun Belt and FGCU of the A-Sun all won. (Which is a mini-one/won pun, which is a blogger’s version of a 1st, which is what you get when you participate in the inanity!)

First time I can blame Sue for  jinxing a team (or did they jinx themselves?): CS Northridge (10-4) goes down to UC Santa Barbara, 61-44.

First time I’ve paid attention to the Northeastern Huskies of Boston because, well, they’ve kinda stunk it up since forever. They earned their third-straight victory for the first time since the 2009-10 season after taking down Old Dominion, 78-66. The Northeastern coach is Daynia LaForce-Mann, a former Georgetown player with strong coaching roots in New York (LIU, St. John’s).

Wright State continues to grow: they’re 11-4 in the Horizon.

Ditto with the Toreros: San Diego (11-4 WCC) takes down St. Mary’s (10-5), 74-59. Get your tickets for the conference tourney, y’all!

Okay, so maybe there’s no separation: UCLA 53, Arizona State, 38. Hey, did you see this WATN? Natalie Nakase: Ex-UCLA player 1st female coach in Japanese men’s basketball league

Colorado looked good (or was it the Cards looking bad?) in the first half… then they got stampeded by the champeens.

Yah, SC and UK should have been on the 3.

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and gives the Buckeye’s the blues.

By earning a share of their first Big 10 title since 2004, I don’t know that Coquese Washington has quite exorcised the ghost of Rene-past — and she may never win over a certain core group of PSU fans — but for those of us who’ve followed Co’s journey, it is a wonderful moment. Writes Mechelle:

It might be trite to say Penn State needed this, but it’s still true. The school, buried under so much harsh publicity in the last three months, needed it. The program, which hadn’t won a Big Ten championship since 2004, needed it. The players, who this season lost two of their first three league games (both at home), needed it. And coach Coquese Washington, who took over at Penn State in 2007 hoping to give the program a completely fresh outlook and atmosphere, needed it.

You also can say that Washington and the players didn’t just need it, they deserved it and earned it.

“It” is the Big Ten regular-season title, which No. 17 Penn State has at least a share of now after an 84-66 victory over No. 11 Ohio State on Monday.

Kentucky righted the ship after three losses, keeping Vandy at arms length through out the game, and secured the 70-61 win.

The Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana got a win…. but dang, it wasn’t in the Sun Belt, so their still 0-fer in the conference.

Both Hampton and Florida A&M won, keeping the MEAC very, very interesting.

Hmmm… what’s going on with High Point? They started so strong, and now are 9-5 in the Big South.

Say what? The Blackbirds (9-7) of Long Island were all over the Pioneers of Sacred Heart (13-3), 74-68.

Happy Beth and Debbie moment: Double OT and the Red Flash pull out the win over Central Connecticut, 86-83.

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Big Monday triple header preview. Hoopfeed’s Cheryl Coward and David Siegel and Ohio State/Penn State co-game-caller Stephanie White. Lots of talk about the tourney brackets/hosts/seeding.

Debbie says ‘ware the Terps, was somewhat physic re: St. John’s, and sets up how Texas might make the Tourney

Cheryl warns Green Bay and Delaware may hit a wall.

Beth wonders about the wonders of the RPI and its impact.

Steph talks Big 10 conundrums.

My input: Thanks to Cheryl for mentioning the “other” conference undefeateds.

Love the idea of having the regular season conference winners to get the automatic bid, and then have the conference tourney winners be “dancer-wannabes under Committee consideration.”

About “protecting” the top seeds and rewarding them… Not sure what they’re imagining the answer to be: For instance, Kingston is a host site because they are willing (and able) to take the financial risk and the other “deserving” sites don’t have the cojones, or practical requirements, to host. If you want to remove all restrictions on who can host what (and are willing to handle the howls), then legislation needs to be offered by colleges and universities to support that.

Logistics says you have to give a site at least a year to prep (’cause it’s a complicated process). But perhaps you say, for instance, the top 16 of the 2012 end of the year polls get first dibs to host the 2014 tourney. Then, the NCAA needs to do everything they can to pressure the ADs of those schools into accepting the hosting challenge.

But, don’t get stuck on Kingston. Look at next year’s hosts and respond to THEM: Baylor, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Duke, Gonzaga, Iowa, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Ohio State, Stanford, St. John’s, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

Kinda looks like the NCAA has already made the neccesary moves.

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for most of the ranked teams: Stanford, Tennessee, Kentucky, Miami, Delaware, Purdue and Gonzaga.

It took UNC double OT to escape Virginia, while Vanderbilt couldn’t escape South Carolina — is it time to take a better look at the Gamecocks (and scrutinize Vandy’s OOC schedule)?

I’m not going to talk about the VaTech/BC game. (Sigh. Remember when they were programs to be reckoned with?)

Not talking about the Stony Brook/Binghamton game either.

So, yes, let’s learn New Hampshires’s mascot: the Wildcats took down the Hartford Hawks, 64-45.

With their win over Drexel, Hofstra moves to 2-0 in the CAA.

The Gophers move to 2-0 in the Big Ten with their win over Northwestern.

Wonder if there will be an end of the season rematch: Memphis (11-3) by two over Tulane (11-3).

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From Chris Solari at the Lansing State Journal: Keane rock solid for Spartans – Kalisha Keane plays with fierce exuberance and rarely gets rattled. Even when off-court matters weigh heavily on her mind.

Tonight against Ohio State, the Spartans can clinch the program’s first outright title. And by Keane’s side, as the fans celebrate a special senior class, will be her parents – supportive survivors who she’s quietly helped through a series of serious medical ailments and who’ve been a driving force in her carpe diem attitude.

“I think earlier in her career, maybe some of that might transcend onto the court. But now I feel like you can see that maturity come,” MSU coach Suzy Merchant said. “And between the lines, that’s where she belongs. And that’s where her family wants her to be. No matter what’s going on around her, that’s her outlet and she plays with a great passion.”

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(if you ignore the results of the last match up) between #9 UCLA and #3 Stanford. Says Michelle Smith at Left Coast Hoops:

The Bruins, who have the best record in school history through 23 games, have a chance to stake their claim to a share of the Pac-10 title with a win over Stanford. But this is one of the toughest finishes in the conference, with the Bay Area schools, followed on the road at the Arizonas and then hosting two of the hottest teams in the league. Since the loss at Stanford, UCLA has won six games, five by a margin of 10 points or less.

Full Court has their take on the Big Ten chaos (Yah, I’m a day late and a dollar short — but they DID get the winner of the PSU/Ohio State game right).

Bob Corwin also has a nice piece on Rick Insell and his Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.

In Part IV of our series, we take a look at Middle Tennessee, a mid-major program with a long history of success. But when two-time All-American Alysha Clark (5-10, C) graduated from the Blue Raider fold at the end of last season, it was hard to believe that Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Insell would come up with a similar player in his very next freshman class. Most would have expected to undergo several years of rebuilding after Clark’s departure, but that was before Insell found Ebony Rowe (generously listed at 6-1, C) out of Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky. The Blue Raiders are currently 21-5 overall and clinched the Sun Belt title last weekend after dropping just one conference game to date (11-1). Of course, there’s more to the Blue Raider picture than just Rowe—outstanding coaching being a major part of that equation—but Rowe has done more than her part in contributing to the continued success at Middle Tennessee.

Speaking of “mid” Majors, Q’s got his eye on some hidden gems: 2011 WNBA Draft Prospects: Major, Mid-Major, Independent & NAIA Players To Watch

…at the beginning of the season, we posted a list of Top 13 WNBA draft prospects and five additional high-profile prospects in order to prepare for our own draft analysis. And as mentioned then, the list was by no means exhaustive and we’ve been keeping an eye out for additional players all season. With contributing writers from coast to coast, we’ve seen a number of strong prospects collectively and have come up with a list of 8 more players that have caught our eye including two lesser-known players who could end up in the WNBA Draft combine.

For now we’re neither ranking nor suggesting how high players might be drafted (or even whether they will be), instead just trying to take stock of the landscape of the talented players we’ve seen before doing a more extensive analysis later.

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Whoa, Ohio State.

I remember sitting next to  a coach during Duke’s furious comeback against UConn in 2004 — the one where Foley nailed a three for the win. As the meltdown was happening, I asked him, “As a coach, how do you feel watching this huge lead disappear?” “Awful,” he responded, “because I’ve been there and sometimes there’s just nothing you can do to stop it.”

I’m thinking Buckeyes’ coach Jim Foster is feeling like that after Ohio State lost to Northwestern (spoiling Prahalis’ triple-double).

Haven’t checked the polls yet but if Penn State doesn’t get some love after their defeat of #22 Iowa, the fix is in.

Rutgers welcomed Syracuse to the ranks of the top 25 by giving them a defeat.

Maryland stormed, Baylor blew, Michigan State whipped and UCLA handled.

DOH! The WHB curse zapped UNC-Wilmington as they got surprised by Georgia State (3-8 in the CAA).

Speaking of the CAA, Delaware is enjoying the return of Delle Donne. Drexel? Not so much.

Sticking with our theme, with their win over ODU, JMU moves into sole possession of the CAA’s top spot.

You know, the Badgers are 8-3 in Big 10 play. Just sayin’…

The WHB didn’t manage to jinx Houston, who are now 9-0 in C-USA. Mechelle? Graham? Get on this!

On Saturday, Toledo moved to 9-1 in the MAC.

Oklahoma took that old saw (Free throws are just that: FREE!) to heart and escaped Iowa State with a win.

UConn had a little romp over DePaul.

It took overtime, but Xavier is now 10-0 in the A-1o.

Yup, that’s Temple taking down Duquesne and staying undefeated in the A-10.

Danielle Adams helped A&M escape the battle in Texas.

Those poor Penguins. The #17 Phoenix jumped out to a 26-0 lead and never looked back.

Oral Roberts is 12-0 in the Summit.

Oakland (9-3/Summit) squeaked by IUPUI (1-10/Summit).

Stanford stomped Arizona by 30.

UCLA took down USC.

Oregon and Washington didn’t need OT to score a total of  186 pts, but the Ducks came out on the short end.

Calling them paper-Mountaineers is a little like chanting “Over-rated” — it disrespects your teams’ effort (in this case, Pittsburgh) in taking down the #15 team in the country. In front of West Virgina’s third largest crowd in program history.

Portland State came up with a big with over Northern Colorado (8-2/Big Sky).

Penn lost another heart breaker, this time to Harvard in double overtime.

Notre Dame did not have an easy time with South Florida, but they emerged victorious.

South Dakota got revenge over rival North Dakota, 69-53.

Liberty is now 8-1 in the Big South, but it was a close one against High Point (4-5/B. South).

Marquette’s play has improved, and a buzzer-beating three helped them take down St. John’s, 55-52.

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Jim Massie writes: It’s make or break time for OSU

The predicament facing the Ohio State women’s basketball team is as startling as finding a Siberian tiger lurking in the stairwell between the locker room and the practice gym.

The six-time defending Big Ten champion Buckeyes (13-8, 4-5) are in seventh place in the conference standings and have looked nothing like the alpha team that they were touted to be after opening the season with seven straight wins.

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From Graham: Borseth’s major progress at Michigan

When Michigan wanted to become one of the major players in the Big Ten in the spring of 2007, it turned to a coach who had only weeks before earned the respect of no less than Geno Auriemma for leading a great mid-major program into Hartford, Conn., and walking off the court with a halftime lead against Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

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lot of running and clubbing and cruising and romping and mauling and ripping and whipping and season high-ing.

DCBC watched the Tiger Taming and C&R tracked the Cardinal.

Some escaped, in spite of a serious case of fumble fingers (28 TOs!). Some escaped in OT.

Some proved they were Monty Python fans (“I’m not dead yet!”)

As for “other” teams:

Coach Stockon’s Green Wave ran their C-USA record to 4-0 with a 30-pt victory over Marshall. (Did anyone catch Tulane on TV last week? FUN team to watch!)

Wonder if they need to watch out for Houston, who’s also 4-0.

She’s baaaaaak! Drey Mingo goes double-double on Northwestern, securing a (101st for Versyp) Purdue win.

A big win for Penn State (83-62) puts them at 4-1 in the Big 10 (and yes, it’s weird that Illinois’ Penn had a double-double) (And yes, Lucas snapped Mazzante’s record of freshman threes.)

Swish! Drexel uses a last-second three to topple William & Mary 59-58.

Are the Lady Bears (Mo) becoming relevant again? They’re 5-1 in the MVC.

Don’t look now, but Army is 3-0 in Patriot League play (and have won five straight).

Marist rules the MAAC. So what’s new?

Middle Tennessee still rules the Sun Belt — but it was close against Arkansas State.

Old Dominion over Delaware. That’s #599 for Wendy Larry. (Oh, and the ODU SID peeps do a great job keeping up with their alums. Check out Former Lady Monarch’s Pen is as Mighty as Her Jump Shot and Nancy Lieberman’s Historic Debut.)

Coach Boyle is at a loss, and so are her Cal Bears.

Didja catch Coop’s UNC-Wilmington team squeeze out a win over Hofstra? (They’re now 4-1 in the CAA.)

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Get smarter about the Big 12 with the Oklahoman’s guide:

5 Players to Watch

→Danielle Adams, Texas A&M: Adams is a unique talent. Is she a guard? A wing player? A post? Or all of the above? Thick and sturdy at 6-foot-1, she can score from anywhere on the floor.

Meanwhile, one of the Mitten State teams gets some attention from Mick McCabe at the Free Press: Defense produces Michigan women’s basketball’s best Big Ten start since 1999-2000

Borseth is realistic after his team’s 2-0 start in the Big Ten and consecutive victories over three ranked opponents for the first time in program history entering tonight’s game at Purdue.

“This is a tough league,” he said. “When you look too far ahead you’re going to get bit, so we’re just kind of going day to day at this point. We’re just trying to keep our heads above water, fight for everything we have.”

Up in the northwest, Jayda is looking Around the Pac-10: Avoiding the bottom

Well, someone is going to get a conference win this weekend as the Oregon and Washington schools clash in the second week of Pac-10 play. Up first is Oregon State (7-6, 0-2 Pac-10) for Washington (5-6, 0-2). The surprising Beavers lost to the athletic Arizona schools by a combined five points last week.

Speaking of last year’s “daily disaster” story Beavers, from Brooks Hatch at the Gazette-Times: Oregon State is defensive by nature and by design

The philosophy is relatively straightforward.

“Limit possessions, force tough shots … the same things every defense tries to do, make your opponents do something they are not used to or comfortable with,” and rebound like crazy, Rueck said Tuesday in detailing the nuts and bolts of a defense that’s allowing just 52.9 points per game and holding opponents to a .360 percentage on all shots and .296 on 3-pointers.

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From Mike Carmin at the Journal Online: Early upsets bad for Big Ten’s women’s basketball image

In the world of Big Ten women’s basketball, the universe is upside down.

Check the standings.Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin are 2-0. Those programs have a total of one conference championship. Meanwhile, Iowa, Purdue and Ohio State — winners of 29 league titles — are a combined 0-5.

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is off to their best start in program history.

The other Mitten State team earned its third win over a ranked team, as Michigan took down Iowa IN Iowa City. *edited: apologies to Cyclone fans. But, hey, it prompted an email. Thanks, Dave!*

#24 Arkansas is no longer undefeated, falling to Florida, 64-53.

Perhaps the WHB curse is real? Wisconsin defeated Penn State, 77-62. (Pokey Badgers slow Lady Lions)

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The Silent Majority Poll

A few weeks ago, we debuted our ranking of the top teams outside the BSC Conferences (ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Pac-10, Big East, Big 12). Now that the season’s started, we’re back for Round Two.

I also like their post-prediction, “Ummm, we can explain” lines.

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No keeping down Kachine Alexander – 5-foot-9 senior guard is the best inch-for-inch rebounder in the country

“She’s so physically strong, I just enjoy watching her be able to just jump over somebody who is 4 or 5 inches taller than her and go up and grab it,” Iowa junior guard Kamille Wahlin said of her teammate. “I think she has an unbelievable ability to jump and go up and get a rebound. She has a kind of a gift that can’t be taught; it’s natural and she uses her gift to the best of her ability.

“Her type of athleticism is a lot of fun to watch.”

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Theairra Taylor out for season

For a little levity, here’s Graham’s always entertaining twitters (I’m linking, but while these are on the front page of .com, they don’t seem to be part of the WHoopsTwits nor Graham’s Twit feed. Clearly, I need an Twit with some expertise.)

GH: Talking to Iowa G Kamille Wahlin about media attention. “I know last year, I was never talking to you.” Think I just got called bandwagon.

GH: And I’m guilty. I’ll even take the middle seat on that bandwagon, behind the guy who insists on reclining. Really like the Hawkeyes.

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From Milton Kent: ‘Super Six’ Conferences Announce Women’s Basketball Series

The six Bowl Championship Series conferences, which happen to be the dominant leagues in women’s basketball, announced Wednesday a two year challenge series of games pitting 12 teams against each other.

The “Super Six” series begins this year and continues next year with two teams each from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Southeastern Conference and the Pac-10 competing during next month. One team from each league will host a game while the other league team will travel, with the matchups to be determined on the basis of perceived competitive balance.

Depending on the quality of the teams, could be a great way to develop twixt-conference rivalries.

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