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’cause it’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeeeeear… Take a deep breath, y’all, shut the door and pull up a chair ’cause you’ve got a lot of reading to do!

First things first: WNIT!!
Saturday, April 2  |  3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT
CBS Sports Network – Thad Anderson (play-by-play) and Chiney Ogwumike (analyst)

The finals are set and it pits two programs who’ve got something to prove (to the selection committee): South Dakota v. Florida Gulf Coast University.

The Coyotes earned a birth by throughly handling Oregon, 88-54.

DakotaDome’s long goodbye as a basketball facility will now officially be talked about for a very long time. The old gal just doesn’t want to give up on roundball just yet. USD will now play the winner of Michigan vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday accompanied by a crowd expected to be bigger than Wednesday’s.

“Even when we were just warming up at 60 minutes (before the game), the people were filling in,” said Kelly Stewart, who was one of six Coyotes who hit double-figures. “Then every time we came out of the locker room there was more people. And finally, when we were about to do the starting lineups, I looked up and I got a huge smile on my face. Everyone was smiling.”

The Eagles took on Michigan in from of a record crowd, and came away with the 71-61 win.

“It was a great defensive effort against a great offensive team,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “Now we’re excited to get to play for the WNIT Championship. The crowd was exceptional tonight. It was a huge advantage for us to have it here with that type of atmosphere. I’m sure it’s the type of game that these players will remember for a long time.”

FYI: WNIT NOTES

-Minnesota’s Rachel Banham scored 48 points on March 16 to lead the Gophers to an 87-80 win over Milwaukee in Round 1. That set a Postseason WNIT record for most points in a game, surpassing Tamika Whitmore of Memphis (45 against Arkansas State, 1999). 

-Sharnae Lamar of Northern Iowa dished out 15 assists to set a single-game WNIT record in the team’s 64-58 victory over Drake, 64-58. 

-The 2016 title game between South Dakota and Florida Gulf Coast is the second time since 1998 that two mid-major programs have played for the Postseason crown. In 2004, Creighton beat UNLV for the title.

-Before 2016, there have been 13 mid-major teams to reach the Postseason WNIT championship game. The six mid-major champions are Creighton (2004), Missouri State (2005), Wyoming (2007), South Florida (2009), Toledo (2011) and Drexel (2013).

About that stuff happening in Indianapolis: FREE Women’s Final Four Activities

General:

Indianapolis set to be center of women’s basketball world

All of the women’s basketball world will descend on Indianapolis this weekend in a celebration of the sport.

For the first time in NCAA history the Division I, II and III women’s titles will be decided on the same court.

“We can’t wait for the 2016 championship games in Indianapolis,” NCAA vice president for women’s basketball Anucha Browne said.

Celebrating 35 Years of NCAA Women’s Basketball

Beth Mowins to replace Dave O’Brien as announcer in Final Four, first-time all-female crew for ESPN at event

Women’s basketball | Final Four: Three first-timers crash party with UConn

Meet the Women’s Final Four

Audio: ‘Around the Rim’: Final Four preview

Audio: Kara Lawson with SI’s Richard Deitsch

Audio: Sue Bird talks about the low pay for women’s professional basketball in the United States on this edition of our Keeping Score with Rick Horrow audio podcast

Audio: HBO and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons is joined by Diana Taurasi to discuss her WNBA return from Russia, UConn’s dominance (6:00), the stupidity of lowering the rims (13:00), GSW’s selflessness (16:30), playing pickup with Westbrook and Draymond (21:00), and the struggling Lakers and D’Angelo Russell (30:00).

Audio: Special Dishin & Swishin Podcast: “Ambassador” Tamika Catchings welcomes the WBB world to Indy

Audio: Dishin & Swishin 3/31/16 Podcast: Doug Bruno is back to break down the 2016 Final Four

Women’s NCAA tournament: Four keys to the Final Four

Women’s Final Four: Can Anyone Stop UConn?

At Women’s Final Four, male-coached teams not a bad thing

These Are The Last Three Teams That Have A Chance To Beat UConn

SNYDER: UConn overshadows parity among other women’s basketball teams

VanDerveer: UConn’s rule isn’t bad for the sport — but next year it could be

Jeff Jacobs: In Women’s Final Four, It’s The Men Who Beat The Odds

Jeff Jacobs: Think UConn’s Geno Auriemma Is A Rock? You Should Meet His Wife

Pac-12 Feature: From ground floor to Final Four

My turn: JUST CATCH UP

Washington:

How UW’s and OSU’s Final Four run is a breakthrough for Pac-12 women’s basketball

Pac-12 Feature: From ground floor to Final Four

7 things to know about Washington Huskies (Syracuse women’s basketball Final Four foe)

Meet the Final Four-bound UW Huskies women’s basketball team

Washington’s jump shooter doesn’t jump

HUSKIES WOMEN: Masters of the Unexpected

Four knee surgeries later, UW’s Walton unfazed by doubts

Mike Neighbors: From Blockbuster To The Final Four

Oregon State

Five questions for Beavers-Huskies

Washington and Oregon State new faces in Final Four

New to following Oregon State women’s basketball? Here’s a crash course on the Beavers

Oregon State Beavers women’s basketball blending intensity, playfulness during Final Four run

Final Four newcomer Oregon State scrappy on defense

Watch: Gary Andersen and Pat Casey on Oregon State

OSU dreams big, embraces Final Four berth

Watch: Oregon State women’s basketball Final Four appearance called ‘incredibly miraculous’

Can Oregon State Shock The World?

Rueck’s Beavers have big fans in OSU’s 1963 Final Four team

OSU has unfinished business in Final Four

Aki Hill and the bliss of the Final Four

Open tryouts to the Final Four: Oregon State’s dramatic rise

Syracuse:

Syracuse’s Hillsman, Read preparing carefully for Washington

Syracuse women’s basketball guard Alexis Peterson brims with confidence

Keep shooting: Syracuse women’s basketball senior Brianna Butler does what she’s told

Turning point for Syracuse women’s basketball this season began with a loss

Kayla Alexander: Syracuse Orange Nation on Cloud Nine

Syracuse women’s basketball center Briana Day: Bigger foes aren’t going to push me around

Go Orange! Syracuse men’s, women’s basketball teams head to Final Four

Connecticut:

Is UConn’s sustained dominance bad for women’s basketball?

UConn may be the greatest college basketball dynasty ever

Geno Auriemma: Having to defend success ‘makes no sense’

Geno: Ignore UConn Women If You Want, ‘But Don’t Demean Those Who Appreciate It’ –

Why the dominance of the U-Conn. women’s team should be embraced

UConn’s opponents need to step up their game

Jeff Otterbein: UConn Women Simply The Best, Just Watch And Learn To Live With It

Here are a few additional assignments for sports columnist

Fans appreciate greatness, even when the games aren’t close

Fans don’t agree with columnist who says Huskies are killing the game

UConn Women’s Basketball Team Confronts Consequences Of Being ‘Too Good’

UConn too good? Quit the whining, beat ’em!

Respect the Women!

Be Great. Don’t Apologize.

UConn women don’t find winning boring

UConn women should be respected

UConn can join a pair of 4-peat pioneers in women’s basketball

Connecticut poised to make history again

UConn making something hard look easy

Huskies closer to place no team has ever been

Freshmen provide Huskies with needed backup help

UConn freshmen stepping up in NCAA Tournament

Samuelson’s family is UConn women’s basketball’s family, too

Women’s basketball: Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart leads a star-studded Final Four

Other basketball news:

Rachel for threeeeee: Banham edges Smith in 3-point championship

Brava: Jennifer Azzi comes out as gay, announces marriage to her USF assistant coach

“I, too, lived a long time not being 100 percent honest,” Azzi said. “Kind of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell kinda of thing. And it’s so stupid. I don’t know why we do that, but we do that. I’m a college coach. Is it going to hurt me with recruiting? What are people going to think? And you are constantly worrying about those things.

Supporters laud Jennifer Azzi for her bravery – but you can read the fear…

New women’s basketball coach Kenny Brooks raves about recruiting potential at Virginia Tech

Jonathan Tsipis’ plan to grow Badgers women’s basketball attendance starts with being visible –

New UW women’s basketball coach wants to keep state’s best players

Tsipis tasked with turning tide for women’s hoops

Wisconsin Women’s Basketball: Tsipis’ energy stands out during initial meeting with team

Bradbury named UNM women basketball head coach

KSU Women’s Basketball Coach Agnus Berenato

Kim Rosamond named Tennessee Tech women’s basketball head coach

Finally poached: UCF announces Katie Abrahamson-Henderson as head coach of women’s basketball

Former UConn players apply Auriemma lessons as coaches

Bye: Jatarie White to transfer from USC women’s basketball program

Bye: Two leave Duke women’s basketball team

WNBA:

Updownup-down… honestly, I think the NBA should raise their rim. It’s ridiculous how easy it is for the giants who play the game to score…

Army brass supports Minato in WNBA bid

Jennifer Gish: The next goal for UAlbany’s Shereesha Richards — the WNBA

Lindsay Whalen Joins Timberwolves’ Broadcast Booth

Deep Diving WNBA Data — Griner’s Paint Defense

WNBA Award Accuracy by Win Shares

Girls Sports Month: Candace Parker on what drives her, dunking and being a mom

WNBA Reveals New Apparel Items Celebrating Landmark 20th Season

The Legend of Lauren Jackson

Cool: Boomers And Fire GMs Head To WNBA Again

Following on from a successful visit last year to work alongside management at the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, the off-court leaders at the Deakin Melbourne Boomers and JCU Townsville Fire will again embrace a fact-finding mission in Los Angeles and Phoenix this June, this time taking in eight sporting events in 10 nights.

WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw “hitting game-winning shots” on and off the court

In case you missed it: Blake Griffin’s ‘Broad City’ appearance included a discussion about the WNBA

OT, but not really: Nike responds to U.S. national team jersey controversy

The sportswear behemoth that has outfitted the national team program for decades has been hit especially hard on two issues.

First, with the women’s jerseys, the low-cut neckline has been called unnecessarily sexualizing by some fans, and simply inconvenient anatomically for others whose body shapes aren’t the same as the widely used industry standard.

Second, with the men’s jerseys, you can’t buy one emblazoned with the three stars that represent the World Cups won by the women’s team. There are plenty of men who support Jill Ellis’ reigning champions just as much as they support Jurgen Klinsmann’s collection of question marks.

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It feels like the Sugar Bears have been knocking on the door of the NCAA tourney for a while now ( five straight losses in the Southland Conference Tournament dating back to 2011) Finally, it opened. The Bearkats did. not. make.it. easy. Truly a valiant effort by the #7 seed who was playing its fourth game in as many days. Central Arkansas pulled away in the fourth for a 69-62 win.

“I’m so proud and happy for this team,” said Central Arkansas head coach Sandra Rushing, who had 8 NCAA appearances in 10 seasons at Delta State in Division II, but is taking a team to the Division I tournament for the first time. “They have worked extremely hard all year long, refused to lose, and found a way to win.”

Coach Yolett McCuin‘s Jacksonville team had been tugging on the Eagles’ tail feathers all season. They lost by 19 in their first meeting. Their second meeting was a 4pt win for FGCU. The third time? Jacksonville stormed back in the fourth to notch the 2pt win, claim the Atlantic Sun tournament and clinch its first NCAA tournament berth.

“When the game started to get away from us in the third quarter and they started to pull away, my thought was ‘if we’re going to lose, we’re going to lose with the people who got us 21 wins,’” Jacksonville coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. “We’ve had games this year where I’ve done that to prepare us for this situation.”

Congrats to coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick and her players at UNC-Asheville. Longtime WBH readers know of the rebirth of the UNC-A program under this year’s Big South COY. The Bulldogs faced down Liberty through two overtimes to earn the 64-62.

“The legacy is complete,” said Love, the senior who was part of the 2-28 team in Kirkpatrick’s first year. “We beat the beast. But what a game they played. What a hard-fought win by us. I’m so happy for this team.”

Added Khaila Webb, ‘Nobody believed in us except for us. We were picked to finish eighth, but we knew we could do it. I’m just so proud of everyone on this team.”

Well, lookee! Kellie Harper‘s Missouri State Bears became the first 3 seed to win the MVC. Oh, and their going back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. They took down top-seed Northern Iowa with authority, 71-58.

“Every run they made, we had an answer,” Harper said. “We scored right away, usually got a couple of baskets, and put them right back in the same spot. Sometimes we don’t always make it pretty, but we find a way to be successful.”

What a run for Robert Morris and (trying to retire) coach.

Coach Sal Buscaglia has a sign in his office that says simply: “Believe”.

Even when his Robert Morris team was in the midst of a losing streak in January, the Colonials never lost hope. Now they’re headed back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.

“I told them believe in our system and we’ll take you to the promise land,” Buscaglia said after Robert Morris beat Sacred Heart 56-51 on Sunday to win the NEC Conference Tournament championship. “We started winning games toward the end.”

With Sunday’s win, Buscaglia will have one last chance to get a first NCAA Tournament victory.

Green Bay made sure the Horizon status quo stayed status quo. The Phoenix used a clampdown defense to stifle Milwaukee and earn a 16th trip the NCAA tourney.

You know what I don’t want to be right now?  An NCAA Selection Committee member. Charlie offers up the Three biggest bracket questions heading into Selection Monday

1. The bubble

So much of the bubble movement took place a week ago as the power-five conferences were playing their conference tournaments, but this Sunday provided that last bit of intrigue and what is now a big question for the committee: Florida Gulf Coast.

The Eagles, unbeaten in league play and the Atlantic Sun’s No. 1 seed, lost in their tournament final to second-seeded Jacksonville. Most years that would have been it for FGCU. Most years the No. 71 RPI team from the 29th-rated conference would not even be up for discussion.

This isn’t most years.

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So, yeah, many of the conference tournaments have started, but I honestly didn’t think I’d have to worry about the first rounds…

“DOH!” says the Ohio Valley. Murray State straight up stuns #1 Tennessee-Martin. How big an upset? The Pacers are 11-16 (7-9) and the Skyhawks are 21-8 (14-2). The Skyhawks just played Murray State to close out the season and beat them by 21. SIEU must be thinkin’ “We don’t screw up, we get into the NCAA.” Of course, Belmont might be thinkin’ the exact same thing.

Fly, Eagles, fly: FGCU leads mid-major rankings into the postseason

If mid-major teams often play with the freedom of nothing to lose in the NCAA tournament, perhaps it’s because they already survived the part of the season when there was everything to lose. With NCAA at-large bids rarely a certainty, a season’s worth of good work can vanish within a few bad minutes in a conference tournament. But with automatic bids soon up for grabs, here is a final look at the rankings.

Wow, being a Clemson Tiger these days must be disheartening. 0-for in conference play.

You stay (Boyle), you go (Butts). This could be a busy list.

Oh, this could get ugly right quick: FIU women’s basketball coach suspended after alleged sexual misconduct

Crap: Theriot Will not Return for HuskersTheriot’s career had great moments, but also disappointment

The Nebraska women’s basketball team returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis this week for the Big Ten Conference Tournament, site of one of the great moments in the career of Rachel Theriot.

In 2014, Theriot helped lead the Huskers to the Big Ten Tournament championship, the program’s first title in their new league. Theriot was tournament MVP.

Theriot won’t be able to play in Thursday’s game against Rutgers. The senior point guard had surgery on her foot on Monday. That ends a career filled with lots of great games, but also disappointment, as her junior and senior seasons were each cut short because of injury.

So, I’m pleased that coach Dave Magarity is part of the WBCA’s “COY Region/Nominee” process. But, I’d like to mention that Army (26-2, 17-1) has had a (rather recent) tradition of winning. Bucknell, now 23-6, (17-1), not so much…

“It feels good to get a piece of a championship,” said fourth-year Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell. “This team has been through so much, and for it to result in a banner in the rafters is very rewarding. I’ve been told Army is one of the better teams in the history of the Patriot League, so for us to match them at 17-1 is an incredible accomplishment.”

Bucknell’s run through the league schedule started with an eight-game winning streak, including a victory over Army West Point. The Bison’s lone loss came to the Black Knights and has been followed by their current nine-game winning streak that they will take into the postseason. The streak is tied for the longest in program history.

Woot! to the NCAA’s “Team of the Week:”

Fresh off of claiming the school’s third Conference USA regular season title in program history (2008, 2012 and 2016), the UTEP Miners continue to impress as the calendar turns to March. UTEP clinched the title on Feb. 27 when they outlasted Charlotte, 94-91, in double overtime in front of a roaring 4,012 fans at the Don Haskins Center.

UTEP, 25-2 overall and 16-1 in Conference USA play, matched school and league records for single-season Conference USA victories this year. The Miners also concluded the home portion of their schedule at a flawless 16-0, marking the second undefeated home campaign (14-0) in program history.

Speaking of the Miners: UTEP star Turner overcomes struggle and thrives

Growing up in the hardscrabble parts of Dallas, Turner spent some nights on a floor in an apartment with six of her siblings, some at houses of various coaches looking out for her. Some days she ate better than others. Those days, she didn’t pass out in a gym. Some days she did pass out in the gym. Going to practice hungry was common.

Turner learned the rules of the street.

“I saw shootings, killings,” Turner said. “You hear shots and you get down on the ground, protect yourself. I saw lots of drugs, weed, cocaine, prostitution. Not a lot of girls I went to school with went on to college. I wanted to break that cycle; I didn’t want that to be my story.”

But there’s another part to this: Turner isn’t running from anything.

Speaking of players overcoming:

This year has not been what anyone expects of Iowa State, least of all the Cyclones themselves. This is a proud and distinguished program that’s used to the postseason; Iowa State has gone to the NCAA tournament 16 of the past 19 seasons, including the past nine years in a row.

But the Cyclones finished the regular season Tuesday at 13-16 overall after an 82-57 loss to West Virginia.

So why did it still seem like such an uplifting night in Ames, Iowa?

Because Iowa State guard Seanna Johnson was back on the court, after a very emotionally difficult past 10 days in what’s been a challenging season for the Cyclones. Johnson had missed the previous two games while at home in Minnesota with her family after her father, Curtis Johnson, suffered a stroke on Feb. 20.

Speaking of really good players: Courtney Williams worked hard to become one of game’s top players

You’ve heard the story before, countless times. It’s about the high school standout who comes to college and becomes perplexed and frustrated that what once came pretty easily had become challenging.

Common as the scenario is, it’s still a major hurdle to clear for every player who encounters it. But if she does, it’s a process she never forgets.

South Florida senior guard Courtney Williams can attest to this. She has become one of the top players in college, and is looking forward to a professional career. But she had to go through that “what I am doing wrong?” phase at one point, too.

Ladies, start your engines! UConn ready to raise the bar even higher in postseason

The undefeated Huskies are like a standout Broadway troupe that has been doing the same show for a while. They have all their lines memorized and know every mark they must hit. So how, when you’ve been essentially nailing it again and again, do you still find another gear?

That’s really the “secret” of championship teams, isn’t it? Even when they appear to be at their best, there’s somewhere else to climb.

“Back in the day, we used to say, there’s regular-season Shea Ralph, and there’s tournament Shea,” Auriemma said of the former Huskies star and current UConn assistant coach who was the most outstanding player of the 2000 Women’s Final Four. “And those are two different things. And we like to think that our team is the same way.

Ya-da-UConn “undefeated” Ya-da-UConn “national champions” Ya-da… NOT UConn?      Johnson County women’s basketball team shooting for perfect season: Defending NJCAA Division II champs are 30-0 entering postseason

The Johnson County Community College women’s basketball program earned its bona fides long ago and its second national championship last season. The Cavaliers are accustomed to winning.

So when coach Ben Conrad says: “It is surprising we haven’t gotten beat. That’s not normal,” it’s apparent something is up.

JCCC begins postseason play Tuesday with a 30-0 record, the first time the Cavaliers have finished the regular season undefeated. All but two of those wins have come by double digits. Most of those double-digit wins have been margins rarely seen outside of video games.

Looking ahead, Charlie says: NCAA’s final reveal holds small clues for Selection Monday

Mechelle, who’s been writing up a storm, notes: Bubble teams look to make big noise during Championship Week

In the five major conferences — which accounted for five automatic and 27 at-large NCAA berths last year — there are some bubble guppies and bubble sharks. The guppies don’t have much NCAA tournament history, while the sharks do — but as the “bubble” part of their description suggests, both are in precarious positions in regard to this year’s tournament.

Let’s take a quick look around the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC as they get set to face off for conference supremacy and automatic tickets to the Big Dance.

Check out the ‘Around the Rim’: Championship Week Preview podcast with Chiney and LaChina

During the first half, the two are joined by Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn to discuss if UConn’s recent slow starts should be concerning, SMU coach Rhonda Rompola’s retirement and her comments on “players’ entitlement” and front-runners for the national coach of the year award.

In the second half of the show, the duo chat with espnW’s bracketology expert Charlie Creme who breaks down the significance of the upcoming conference tournaments and sheds light on which teams could make a case for a tournament bid this weekend.

Connecticut’s WNBA Team Is More (and Less) Tied to UConn Than You Might Think

…as UConn continues its skyward trajectory under head coach Geno Auriemma, the Sun look toward the 2016 season — the WNBA’s 20th — facing an uphill climb, and a clear goal to strengthen its place in the state’s women’s basketball market after a run of disappointing seasons.

The best way to do that? Win.

“For us, it’s going to come down to: how do we legitimize ourselves?” said Chris Sienko, the Sun’s vice president and general manager. “People know who we are. We’ve done great things. We have to win a championship. I think that’s when people start putting us in the same conversation with UConn.”

Hello, Prez! Atlanta Dream names Theresa Wenzel new president

WATN? Jessica Davenport: A Global Basketball Journey Close To Home

One Last Time: Q&A with WNBA star, Olympian and author Tamika Catchings

In her new book, “Catch A Star: Shining through Adversity to Become a Champion,” co-written by Ken Petersen, she details her life as the daughter of professional basketball player Harvey Catchings, how she adapted to her hearing impairment as a child, how she sought refuge in sports and how the joys and sorrows molded her into the person she is today. At the recent USA Basketball national team training camp in Storrs, Connecticut, Catchings spoke to espnW about the book and why she wrote it.

Thanks for the story, Sally: Going on offense vs. Down syndrome: Most people saw limits for Frankie Antonelli. Parents Frank and Debbie saw potential.

They had counted with an unthinking confidence on having healthy kids, maybe even a team roster’s worth. She played basketball at North Carolina State before becoming a sportscaster, and he hit .400 for the Columbia University baseball team before making a career in elite sports management, and they hoped to add some quality little strivers to the general population. Their first child was an easy birth, and they were so confident of their second that she played nine holes of golf the day he was born. Then he came out scrunched up with the cord around his neck, and holes in his heart.

The doctors spoke in dead-end terms, even the ones who tried to be positive. Though it was 1997 and not the Victorian Age, one said, “Don’t let anybody tell you to institutionalize him.” Statistics showed most Down syndrome children would not see 50.

He won’t develop properly, they said, or play games like other children. “I can’t tell you how many times I heard the words can’t and won’t,” Debbie says. Defeatist words. They seemed to apply as much to her, as to him. You can’t have a career with a disabled child. You won’t be able to work.

But the Antonellis were athletes, and athletes don’t deal in can’t and won’t. They deal in can, and will.

Eighteen years later, Frankie Antonelli is a junior in high school with sparkling eyes, and a well-defined V shape from fitness training. “Hi, I’m Frankie, I’m a celebrity,” he says, wise-guy-like as he introduces himself to a reporter. With a motor-speech impediment that doesn’t dull his meaning, he proceeds to argue with some spirit that he’s the best basketball player in the Antonelli Driveway Series.

Video: Coordinator of Pac-12 women’s basketball officiating Violet Palmer reflects on a pioneering career

Congrats to Brenda VanLengen, winner of the 2016 WBCA Mel Greenberg Media Award.

On a dabnabbit, but congrats note, WHB fave Jim Massie is closing up shop at the Columbus Dispatch. Hopefully he’s at the top of the Mel list next year.

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On cue, the LIU moves to 4-5 in the NEC with a win over Fairleigh Dickinson, 65-62.

In their first meeting, Bucknell hosted Army and beat’em by 10. In the West Point rematch, the Black Knights pulled away in the fourth for a 5-point win. With both teams at 8-1 in the conference, there’s no margin for error in the race to the Patriot League title.

Okay, then. With their first victory in 11 tries against Stetson, Jacksonville moves to 6-0 in the A-Sun and is tied with Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun. Guess who the Dolphins get to play on the 4th…in Naples? And host on the 10th…in Jacksonville.

Looking to keep everyone in the Horizon honest, Northern Kentucky takes down the Penguins, 88-77. A little sting to the win: former YSU guard, Shar’Rae Davis who finished the half with a total of 12 points off the bench. She was one of three players who didn’t receive scholarship renewals in 2014,

*no jinx, no jinx* UNC Asheville is now 9-2 in the Big South.

*WHB talked cr@p about us. Let’s show her!* Rutgers starts ugly but finishes strong against Nebraska, earning a 66-55 win.

*continued jinx?* UT Rio Grande lost – but it was to WAC top dog, New Mexico State.

The Miners are still perfect in C-USA play (9-0), but after Marshall, Western Kentucky (8-1) (who lost to MTSU) looms, Feb. 6th. MTSU (7-2), which has had some “stuff” going on this year, lost to UTEP 84-73 earlier this season, but doesn’t get a rematch.

Fresno State (ummm… shout out to the Bee: ““I just feel like we know how to come back,” senior co-captain Toni Smith said in a phone interview after the game.) and Colorado State have unblemished Mountain West records – will that last until March 1st, when they get to face off against each other?

Squeak! Ohio moved to 9-0 in the MAC with a one-point win over Ball State, 68-67.

Hmmmm… the Bulldogs are struggling, yes, but I’m sure San Francisco is enjoying beating Gonzaga.

On a day when USF honored its 1996 Sweet 16 team, the 2015-16 San Francisco women’s basketball team made a place for themselves in program history as well. The Dons scored the first bucket of the game and never trailed to earn a big 71-52 win over the Bulldogs at War Memorial Gym at the Sobrato Center on Saturday afternoon.

The victory was their first win over the 11-time WCC defending champions since a West Coast Conference tournament win on March 2, 2006. The 19-point deficit is also the largest loss of the season for Gonzaga, who lost to Stanford 65-48 on Nov. 15 during non-conference action.

Gotta love in-state games: Bobcats knock off Lady Griz

A year ago this month, the Montana State women’s basketball team crumbled and lost its composure in a 62-48 loss to Montana that sent the Bobcats to 1-4 in conference, searching for answers.

A year later, it seems like the Bobcats of head coach Tricia Binford have all the right ones.

Ooooooooh, De-bbie: Eastern Kentucky over Morehead State, 100-93; Eastern Washington over Sacramento State, 100-83.

What to look for Sunday:

#12 Kentucky at Florida – will the Wildcats bounce back, or with the Gators camp.

St. John’s at #23 DePaul. The Blue Demons have been up and down… and the Red Storm has been knocking at the door of the polls.

UNC at NC State. A missing coach adds intrigue to the 101st edition of this in-state rivalry.

St. Louis at George Washington. The Billikens (7-1) are SO much better.… but the Colonials are undefeated (8-0) in conference….

Alabama at Tennessee. One would thing the Tide would be just what the doctor ordered for the Vols…. but remember, they gave TAMU a scare.

#13 Mississippi State at Arkansas. The Razorbacks have been snacking on ranked teams. How focused will the Bulldogs be after their big win over Tennessee?

#2 South Carolina at Texas A&M (ESPN2). It’s never fun to play against the 12th man.

It’s likely that #14 Louisville will stay hot against Wake Forest... so I can’t help but look ahead to Feb 7th when they face Notre Dame.

BTW, in Division II news:

McKendree University men’s basketball coach Harry Statham posted his 1,098th career victory Thursday night, matching Pat Summitt’s mark for the most at a four-year school.

Statham is in his 50th season at the Division II college. He guided the Bearcats past Wisconsin-Parkside 92-85 on the court named in his honor.

The 78-year-old Statham has a career record of 1,098-474. He can top Summitt’s record Saturday when McKendree hosts Lewis. (Didn’t)

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Under an enormous amount of scrutiny – both by the Secret Service and by grumpy Committee bashers – the #8 Tigers and #9 Phoenix put together a nice game. Princeton dominated the boards and nailed their free throws to secure their first NCAA tourney win.

Courtney Banghart had seen it once too often. It was not much more than a year ago and one more time than she could stomach watching Annie Tarakchian, then a sophomore, catch the ball in good position near the basket, hold the ball over her head and look to pass without ever showing the slightest inclination to propel a strong frame to the basket.

“Annie is about the most gentle soul on this earth, and she’s really kind,” Banghart said. “Those two, gentle and kind, are not great inside the lines. Inside the lines for the first year and a half at Princeton she was gentle and kind.”

So when Tarakchian was passive one too many times in practice before a key road trip to Harvard and Dartmouth a season ago, Princeton already in a hole in the Ivy League race by then, Banghart whistled proceedings to a halt and delivered a simple rebuke. 

It wasn’t just the Tigers who were roaring.

If you recall, Susie McConnell-Serio’s team opened the season rather inauspiciously. That’s all forgotten as #10 Pitt Panthers produced a HUGE win for the program as they upset #7 Chattanooga, 51-40.

“Walking up to hal court at the end of the game I said to him, ‘This is bittersweet,’ because I have so much respect for him,” she said. “I think he is one of the best coaches in the game, and I’m so happy that he’s still coaching because he just has so much to offer to his players.

“So as happy as I am for our team and our program, it was hard to look at him as I was shaking his hand.”

It’s fly like an Eagle time, as #7 FGCU defeats #10 Oklahoma State, 75-67. They move into the second round for the first time in program history.

Smesko said the men’s team’s run two years ago has been “fantastic” bringing recognition for the school, located on the outskirts of Fort Myers, in southwest Florida.

“We’ve been right on the precipice for a long time,” Smesko said. “We know our next game is going to be against one of the very best teams in the country.”

#13 Liberty has been a hard-nosed program for a while – as #4 North Carolina quickly re-discovered – but the Tar Heels pulled out the win.

 Latifah Coleman and Allisha Gray weren’t going to let Sylvia Hatchell’s return to the NCAA Tournament end so soon.

Gray scored 17 points and Coleman had 15 to lead North Carolina past Liberty 71-65 on Saturday in the first round of the Greensboro Region.

The fourth-seeded Tar Heels (25-8) shot 49 percent, led by 14 and withstood the Flames’ late push to give their Hall of Fame coach a victory in her return to the NCAA Tournament after a year away to fight leukemia.

“This whole week, I have been so stressed out,” Hatchell said. “It’s a good stressed because I’m so excited about the tournament.”

Taking lessons from their football team, #15 Boise State was not intimidated by #2 Tennessee – even on their home court. In the end, the Vols escaped the Broncos.

The Lady Vols were clinging to a 63-58 lead after Boise State’s Camille Redmon made the front end of a one-and-one with 2:51 remaining. But Redmon missed her second free throw, and Tennessee’s Ariel Massengale sank a 3-pointer 13 seconds later to spark a game-clinching 8-0 run.

“I’m satisfied we got the W, but we could do much better,” Graves said. “Our one-on-one defense has got to be tight right now. This is crunch time.”

Coach Trakh can be proud of the effort of his #16 New Mexico State team against host, and #1 seed, Maryland. The Terps ruled the Aggies, 75-57.

Maryland center Brionna Jones could only giggle at the comparison.

“Like PT boats attacking a battleship,” New Mexico State coach Mark Trakh said in describing the destruction the 6-foot-3 Jones inflicted on his shorter, slighter players as top-seeded Maryland won its NCAA tournament opener Saturday.

All season, the Terps have won by continually switching guises. As if to prove that versatility, they beat New Mexico State with a bruising inside attack in the first half and a barrage of jumpers in the second.

#12 James Madison and #5 Ohio State gave us the Debbie Antonelli Special, with the Buckeyes emerging victorious, 90-80.

The Buckeyes — who started three freshmen and bring sophomore Shayla Cooper off the bench — shot 58 percent in the second half and scored on seven consecutive possessions down the stretch.

“Obviously, when you get to this time of the year (and) you have kids who have experienced it, that can be beneficial,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “But I also think for kids who haven’t, then have that youthful energy and that passion to be a part of it. … That can take you a long way.”

#12 Quinnipiac and #5 Oklahoma gave us the second DAS, combining for 97 points in the first half and 99 in the second. Sooners scored more, so they win and move into the next round.

When the Sooners were 5-5 in non-conference play earlier this season, it was tough imagining them making the NCAA Tourament, much less imagining them winning a game in it. But after finishing in second place in the Big 12, Oklahoma came ready to play in the NCAA Tournament. Their 111 points against Quinnipiac showed that despite their lack of experience you should never count out a Sherri Coale coached basketball team.

Sun Belt champ Arkansas-Little Rock battled #6 Texas A&M wire-to-wire, then the #11 seed made good on the upset, 69-60, earning coach Joe Foley his 700th win.

“Tops right now,” he said. “Top game. It’s unbelievable, playing against a friend, playing in the NCAA tournament. It was fun. And to play as well as we did. We played great, and we deserved it.”

Taylor Gault scored a season-high 25 points, Kiera Clark added a career-best 22 and 11th-seed UALR beat sixth-seeded Texas A&M in an opening-round game Saturday.

“The thought I had was to shoot and drive and do whatever I knew I could do best for my team,” Gault said.

#3 Louisville tamed #14 BYU, but the game may be remembered for this action by the Cardinals’ Mariya Moore than the actual score.

Meanwhile, Louisville’s inside presence out-muscled the Cougars from the opening tip. The Cardinals outscored BYU 44-30 in the paint, and added 11 second-chance points on 33 rebounds to net the win.

Barely two minutes into the second half, Louisville’s Mariya Moore drew a technical foul — and the ire of both coaches — leveling BYU’s Morrison with a hard push off a screen.

BYU leading scorer Lexi Eaton responded to the physical play of the game with an elbow of her own two minutes later, a move that went uncalled by the officials — though she did receive a foul on a push on the same play.

#2 Florida State was in their comfort zone, and easily handled #15 Alabama State, 91-49.

“This experience is huge for our program,” Alabama State coach Freda Freeman-Jackson said. “It’s been a while since we have actually had an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament. We only have one true senior that actually played (Saturday). We’re extremely young.”

Alabama State was composed early but wore out, committing 32 turnovers against a stifling Seminoles defense.

#14 Ohio spotted #3 Arizona State 16 points in the first half, but the MAC played the PAC even in the second. Nice re-focuser for the Sun Devils.

Junior guard Elisha Davis increased the lead on the next possession, getting a steal and making the layup. In a 54-second span, ASU had gone on a 7-0 run.

ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said the spurt was a result of ASU’s defense.

“When our defense is turning people over and we’re getting easy buckets in transition, that’s when we’re at our best,” she said.

Ohio coach Bob Boldon gave credit to that aspect of ASU’s game.

“They took us out of everything we wanted to do,” he said. “That really contributed to us getting frustrated on the offensive side.”

Speaking of “re-focusers” #16 Cal State Northridge sure as heck provided that for Stanford as what seemed like a blowout-in-the-making turned into a dogfight. Cardinal escaped, 73-60.

How many hard lessons is this year’s Stanford women’s basketball team going to have to learn?

The Cardinal have already learned that beating Connecticut doesn’t mean you can’t lose to Chattanooga, that knocking off Oregon State doesn’t mean you can beat Oregon, that winning Pac-12 titles isn’t a default status, that changing your entire offense and turning it into a well-oiled machine isn’t going to happen overnight.

And that hosting an NCAA tournament game isn’t the same as winning it. At least not if you don’t play well.

Stanford figured that last one out just in time Saturday.

Courtney Williams did what she does, as host #6 USF dispatched #11 LSU:

South Florida made the most of its first home NCAA postseason game.

Courtney Williams had 17 points and 12 rebounds, Alisia Jenkins added 15 points and No. 6 seed South Florida beat 11th-seed LSU 73-64 in an NCAA tournament first-round game Saturday night.

The announced crowd of 5,560 erupted as the final seconds ticked off.

“I took a moment and went out there (on the court) and was like `wow,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “This is what we’ve wanted and worked for.”

The Old Big East fans were having serious flashbacks in Storrs as they watched #8 Rutgers and #9 Seton Hall go after it in OBE style. 

“What a great game,” Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. “We played hard. I thought that Seton Hall did an outstanding job as well and just played extremely hard. We’re glad to have gotten that game under our belts.”

One year after staging a double-overtime thriller in the third round of the WNIT, Rutgers and Seton Hall turned in another memorable affair. For the second straight year in the postseason — and for the 34th time in 41 meetings all-time — the Scarlet Knights prevailed.

The #16 Terriers knew what they were getting into when they drew the #1 Huskies for their first-round match. But the game, did prompt a nice story in the NY Times about St. Francis guard Sarah Benedetti :For a St. Francis Player, UConn, Long an Inspiration, Turns Rival

When Sarah Benedetti moved to Canton, Conn., as a fifth grader in 2004, she almost immediately started rooting for the University of Connecticut’s basketball teams. That year, UConn became the first Division I university to win the national titles in men’s and women’s basketball.

Benedetti began attending Huskies games with her family and teammates. She idolized the UConn stars Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore. She was so obsessed with the sport that she arrived at Canton High School at 6 a.m. each day to shoot for an hour before classes started. Her father, Sergio, rebounded the ball for her.

Now a senior at St. Francis of Brooklyn, Benedetti competed Saturday night against her former favorite team.

Benedetti did well.

They were smiling from the moment they took the floor, especially when UConn’s starters were being introduced. This was their moment. And Benedetti, with a large cheering section on the day that her old high school lost its bid for a Class S state championship, did her best, making three three-pointers in a first half in which the team’s hole progressively grew deeper. She scored 13 points.

Said coach Thurston post-game:

“This was an incredible experience for our program. This team is the first time that St. Francis has sent a team to the NCAA Tournament on either the men’s or women’s side. Coach Auriemma is a gentlemen. He said nice things about our team and that means a lot to these girls. I told the girls if we played anyone else, we would have beat them, but it would take the defending National Champions to knock us out.”

On the Saturday games: Charlie:

1. ACC flies high: In two days, the ACC went from filling one eighth of the field to representing one quarter of it. While other teams are disappearing, everyone from the ACC remains present and accounted for. No one in the conference has lost, and the league is 8-0 after another four-win day Saturday. Pittsburgh, Florida State, North Carolina and Louisville all cruised into the second round. The Tar Heels had to withstand a late push by Liberty, but otherwise, the games were not only wins but also comfortable ones.

Even Pittsburgh, a No. 10 seed, thoroughly controlled Chattanooga from start to finish in handing the Lady Mocs their eighth straight tournament loss. For the second straight year, Chattanooga had a 25-game win streak snapped in the first round of the tournament. Panthers freshman Stasha Carey’s 16 points and 13 rebounds were just the second double-double in Pittsburgh NCAA tournament history.

Now hurry up and turn on the TV!

12:00 #4 Duke vs #5 Mississippi State, ESPN 2
12:00 #3 Iowa vs #11 Miami, ESPN 2

2:30 #2 Kentucky vs #7 Dayton, ESPN 2
2:30 #2 Baylor vs #10 Arkansas, ESPN 2

7:00 #3 Oregon State vs #11 Gonzaga, ESPN 2
7:00 #1 South Carolina vs #8 Syracuse, ESPN

9:00 #4 Cal vs #5 Texas, ESPN 2
9:00 #1 Notre Dame vs #9 DePaul, ESPN

Oh, and thanks, pilight, for keeping official track of this:

Note that this does not include the men’s play-in games. This is round of 64 vs round of 64. 

UPSET is any lower seed winning 

BIG UPSET happens when an upset involves teams more than four seeds apart 

CLOSE means a game was decided by single digits or in overtime 

BLOWOUT means a game was decided by 20 or more points 

80-90-100 is the number of teams scoring that many points

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Missed this one from March 5th: Not the Knicks – Success Runs Deeper Than All the 3-Pointers

 About an hour before the start of an afternoon practice last week, Kaneisha Atwater shot dozens of 3-pointers as a wall-mounted computer called the Noah Instant calculated the trajectory of each attempt.

The Noah, as the machine is known around Alico Arena, has become a rudimentary part of life for the women’s basketball team at Florida Gulf Coast University. The Eagles love to shoot 3-pointers — few teams in the country make more — and they spend hours trying to perfect the craft.

And this on the Tigers: Like Kentucky Men, Princeton Women Close In on Perfection

Courtney Banghart, the women’s basketball coach at Princeton, believes one pivotal defeat has put the Tigers on the cusp of a historic regular season.

That loss, 80-64 at home to Penn, came in the regular-season finale last year and denied Princeton a fifth consecutive Ivy League title. Afterward, Banghart acknowledged, “The moment was a little big for my youngsters.”

Still, she thinks the Tigers grew immensely from that setback, which became a rallying point.

Apparently CBSports will be broadcasting the 5pm game. I’ll be taking Amtrak down to Philly for my first trip to the Palestra.

On the opposite side of the coin – really bad decisions have really bad consequences: SWAC suspends 15 over fight

Texas Southern imposed its own penalty on the women’s basketball team, withdrawing from the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament that begins Wednesday.

That move Monday night came hours before the conference handed out suspensions for 15 players involved in the bench-clearing fight between the Lady Tigers and Southern on Saturday night. It’s believed to be one of the biggest number of suspensions in NCAA women’s basketball history.

Job openings at

Kansas: Bonnie Henrickson fired after 11 seasons

Utah: Utah fires women’s basketball coach after two injury-riddled losing seasons

Austin Peay: Austin Peay State University Lady Govs Basketball Coach Carrie Daniels contract not renewed

Cool! N.D. CLASS B GIRLS BASKETBALL: Mother coaches daughter, Minot Ryan to state championship

Kindred came out firing on Saturday night.

Still, it couldn’t be sustained against the well-oiled machine that is the Minot Ryan girls basketball team.

The Lions made their move late in the first half, eventually securing their third consecutive Class B state championship with a 68-52 victory at the Minot State Dome.

Ryan (26-1) joins Bottineau as the only programs to win three straight.

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after a week of travel, teaching and tummy upsetness.

So, are you intrigued that #6 Stanford didn’t easily put away the Longhorns?

What about how #5 Notre Dame handled Penn?

LaTech stayed even with LSU in the second — it was the first half that did them in. The Techsters are still 0-for.

Wow, Liberty is still 0-for, too.

Looks to be a long season in Arizona.

Marist finally got a win — and it was a nice one over Bowling Green.

UMass followed their incredibly surprising win over Rutgers (RU fans are not happy) with a takedown of Hartford.

Hmmm… Southern Miss took down the high flying’ FGCU Eagles.

Still perfect on the season: Wyoming, Missouri, Va Tech (via OT), SMU, BYU, San Diego, Baylor, Winthrop, Indiana, East Carolina, Colorado, Purdue, Maine (!), Tulane, Oklahoma State, UTEP, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville (Walz is the winningest Card), Northwestern, Iowa State and Nebraska, Tennessee and Connecticut.

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McGraw is dealing with some bad injuries.

A different kind of injury: Two Georgia women’s basketball players suspended three games

From Arizona: New wrinkle to camp: etiquette class (wonder if the men’s team gets it, too)

From Oregon: What does Scott have? Youth.

Out of Nebraska: Is this a first? NU women now the target of the Big Ten

Out of Wisconsin: Don’t get mad, get even: Badgers women’s basketball: UW coach Bobbie Kelsey irked by Badgers’ snub

This has got to have been awkward: Burns returns to SDSU for Hall induction

From Florida: Yes you can play: FGCU’s Kaneisha Atwater granted eligibility by NCAA

From Oklahoma: Ellenberg leads experienced No. 11 Oklahoma

From Utah: Michelle Plouffe emerging from a long shadow — could surpass fellow Canadian Kim Smith as the best player in Utah history  but her team is dealing with injuries.

From Illinois: Women’s basketball looking to address concerns in exhibition game

From Indiana: Purdue Lineup not set in stone

From HoopFeed: Rebecca Lobo and Stephanie White discuss the upcoming NCAA women’s basketball season

Full Court has a couple of previews:

2013-14 ACC women’s basketball preview: Notre Dame will challenge Duke and Maryland for title

2013-14 PAC 12 women’s basketball preview: Cardinal picked to win conference; others threaten

Been waiting for this: Ex-women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis sues Oakland U.

Time for some good news: Doctors Offer Optimistic Update For Coach Hatchell

More good news: Sutton-Brown to Enter Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame

WATN? Fredonia State names Hill-MacDonald as interim head coach

WATN? 2: Figgs Accepts Engineering Position At Toyota

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draftees have a better chance to surprise this year.

Mechelle says the WNBA draft hinges on the No. 4 pick

Last September when the WNBA draft lottery was held, Washington president/managing partner Sheila Johnson couldn’t hide the look of frozen horror when the Mystics got the No. 4 pick. Fourth was the “tough-luck” spot in a draft where there were perceived to be three prizes.

Washington’s woes were not Mike Thibault’s worry that day. He was still coach of Connecticut and focused on the playoffs. But almost seven months later, the No. 4 pick doesn’t look as bleak as it did last fall, and now it’s Thibault’s choice to make.

Remember when Swish Appeal set up their 13 to Watch? Now Nate offers up A preliminary draft board for the 2013 WNBA Draft

Last year, I posted an essay about the evaluation of draft prospects in terms of minimizing risk, drawing from principles outlined in the widely-read book Moneyball. Since then, I’ve set out to see if there are tangible ways to weigh a prospect’s value by their level of risk relative to past prospects based upon a set of red flags and similarity ratings. The following is a partial draft board based what I’ve been able to put together.

From the Des Moines Register: Iowa State’s Prins, Poppens bullish on WNBA teams’ interest

From the Daily Princetonian: Rasheed looks to go pro after Princeton

From the Bleacher Report: WNBA Draft Order 2013: Teams in Best Position to Acquire Elite Talent

Here’s the espnW’s first-round mock draft

Full Court offers up their WNBA 2013 draft preview: One, two, three, and then…

Some interesting dribs and drabs on the college season:

From Zach Neiner at Penn State: Breaking the stigma of women’s basketball

In December 2011, I sat in the Ernie Davis dining hall at Syracuse University with a friend watching, for a moment, Syracuse battle West Virginia in an empty Carrier Dome.

We made jokes about the game, itself, and attendance. Before this school year, I carried the same stigma as most do toward women’s basketball.

“Women’s basketball?” we thought. “What’s that? It’s certainly no men’s basketball.”

A lot has changed since that day.

For more than six months, I have covered women’s basketball, quickly learning to admire the beauty, the athleticism and the competition of the game. And how can one not?

From Fort Myers: FGCU ready to move on after disappointing end to season

Sharing the same facilities every day at a small school, the Florida Gulf Coast Universitymen’s and women’s basketball teams also share a close bond.

So it’s not that the women weren’t happy when the men, whom they consider brothers, made a historic run in the NCAA tournament last month. It’s just that seeing the program achieve unprecedented success was bittersweet after the women’s own promising season ended in disappointment.

From the AP’s Gary Graves: Louisville expects to grow from title-game loss

Add Lee Michaelson: For Louisville, season may be over but the magic lives on

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…’cause Temple stunned Charlotte, 48-47. The Owls (14-17), are in the semi’s of the A10 and will face Fordham (and Marah Strickland.). Let’s say that again: Fordham is in the semis. It’s time for a review of McManus’ piece on Fordham coach Gaitley

 It’s been a long time since Fordham had a women’s basketball team to be proud of. Anne O’Connell remembers. She was on the school’s last team that really stood out, reaching the postseason all four years when she played as Anne Gregory. She was grabbing her 2,000th career rebound in her final game when she fouled out on an over-the-back call. She made the AIAW record books with 1,999, and waited for the wins to return to Rose Hill gymnasium again.

It was a long wait.

“They’ve honored my team enough,” said O’Connell, who graduated in 1980. “And I love what they’ve done for our team over the years, but they need a new team to honor.”

On the other side of their bracket, Dayton will face off against St. Joe’s who, equal records aside, easily dispatched Duquesne.

In the Big South, the finals feature Liberty, of course, against upstart Longwood.

Longwood women’s basketball coach Bill Reinson quipped that because his team hasn’t won many games the last few years, his players have grown comfortable playing from behind.

And sure enough, when Radford rallied to take a lead late in the teams’ Big South tournament semifinals clash Saturday,the Lancers kept their composure and reclaimed control of the game down the stretch for a 54-51 win inside The HTC Center.

The top four seeds are through to the semi’s in the Southern: Chattanooga v. Appalachian State and Davidson v. Elon.

Ping-ity-ping ping: Tennessee Tech is feeling like they might be on the outside, especially since Tennessee Martin did it againthis time in OT.

It was going to end.

Trailing by a point with 10 seconds left in the OVC championship game, the UT Martin women’s basketball team was fouling desperately. Control of the game had slipped and was fading fast.

Only it didn’t end. Tennessee Tech made its first free throw but missed the second, and the one thing opponents cannot give these Skyhawks is an extra opportunity.

The Sky Hawks gets the OVC’s automatic bid with their 87-80 win, and Tech will have to wait the Committee’s decision.

More pinging: Top-seed Florida Gulf Coast raced to an impressive lead over Stetson behind a career game by Joyce Iamstrong ( pts). But, defense, timely & gusty offense, and closing the game on an 11-2 run added up to the Hatters stunning the Eagles. Great job by coach Lynn Bria, who led her team to a program record 24 wins this season.

Stetson fully embraced the underdog role in ruining FGCU’s bid at a repeat NCAA tournament appearance. The Hatters knew everyone picked them to lose their sixth straight to FGCU, but that only fueled them more.

“I remember telling (teammate Victoria McGowan) after the second time we lost to them (this season) that maybe it’s a sign,” Stetson senior Shanasa Sanders said. “We were saving our best for last. The third time’s the charm. We stuck together today and got the win.”

That’s the fourth straight trip to the dance for Princeton. Will another New Jersey team come knocking on Banghart’s door?

Dynasty.

There’s just no other way to put it.

Turning it on in the second half, the Princeton University women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive Ivy League championship tonight, turning back Brown
80-51.

The title was its 11th and fifth in the past eight seasons.

And more pinging: Purdue, via Mingo, shut down Hooper and the #21 Huskers. The Boilermakers are in the Big 10 finals and face Michigan State, who stifled, and then stunned, #8 Penn State, 54-46. Writes Graham: Both teams have a will and a way

Letters of welcome from schoolchildren line the hallway outside the locker rooms at the Sears Centre Arena, each Big Ten team in town for the conference tournament allotted a dozen or so such missives.

One letter to Purdue offered these words of encouragement.

“I really hope you win,” the handwritten message began. “Even if you don’t win, at least you know you tried. You’ll probably win if you try.”

Score one for the optimism of innocents.

Check out how this impacts the Bracketology.

Western Kentucky comes back from a 12pt deficit and has moved in to the semis of the Sun Belt. They are joined by FIU, AR-Little Rock and MTSU.

Gonzaga rolled over BYU, and now will face San Diego in the WCC finals. Their victory over St. Mary’s gave Toreros coach Cindy Fisher her 200th win.

Lucky Iona — the prize for taking down Sienna: they move into the MAAC finals and face Marist. The last time these two teams met, the Red Foxes won by 23.

In the SEC, writes Mechelle:  Texas A&M knocks off top seed – Aggies’ defense and rebounding spoil Spani’s career day, ends Lady Vols’ run

Tennessee had the No. 1 seed, acquired with gutsy play throughout its injury-plagued SEC season. They Lady Vols had the crowd support, with their contingent of orange-clad fans dwarfing the maroon group for Texas A&M. And they had Taber Spani having a career game, as she was trying to help Tennessee continue on the path to a fourth consecutive SEC tournament title.

What Tennessee didn’t have enough of, though, were two things that have long been a staple of the Orange Crush: defense and rebounding. The deficit in those areas cost the Lady Vols a chance at another title.

Nice photos from Kelly at Full Court. She also adds “SEC’s fresh faces raise the bar on defense (part 2)” which, somewhat prescient, has Graves (29 minutes, 4pts) and Walker (40 minutes, 18pts) at the top.

The first half of the Georigia-Kentucky game was beyond ugly. It got no better for the Bulldogs, but improved a tad for the Wildcats, so they’re in the SEC finals.

For the first time since 2003, the champion of the SEC women’s basketball tournament will come from someplace other than the state of Tennessee. And it took Gary Blair’s second win over Tennessee in his long career as a head coach to ensure it.

The fourth-seeded Aggies started Saturday’s semifinals with a 66-62 victory over No. 1 seed Tennessee. Then second-seeded Kentucky beat No. 3 seed Georgia 60-38. That sets up a championship matchup Sunday (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 6 p.m. ET) between a program that hasn’t won this title since 1982 — Kentucky beat Tennessee that year in the final — and one that has never been SEC tourney champ.

In the ACC, Thomas couldn’t save the Terps from losing a 14pt lead. And, writes Fagan, UNC’s Latifah Coleman answers the call

When North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell sent backup guard Latifah Coleman to the scorer’s table with 6 minutes, 16 seconds left in Saturday’s game against Maryland, she did so with one bit of advice: “Be a leader.”

The 5-foot-9 sophomore entered the ACC tournament semifinal with a season average of 3.4 points per game. She had played only a couple of minutes in Friday’s quarterfinal win over Boston College. And in the first half on Saturday, Coleman had gone 0 for 1 from the floor with two turnovers in just seven minutes. So it’s not unreasonable to think that when Hatchell told Coleman to “be a leader” and sent the young guard into the biggest game of her life, the coach was hoping only for a few minutes of mistake-free ball — and maybe some really good defense.

Duke got by Florida State, so it will be a dark blue/light blue tussle for the Championship.

So much for Pac-12 prognosticators. #14 UCLA raced to a early lead, and #8 Cal never had a chance to get back in the game: Bruins over Bears. Writes Michelle:

No one has been a bigger cheerleader for the power of the Pac-12 Conference this season than UCLA coach Cori Close.

She has preached the gospel wherever she has gone, talked up her conference mates in front of plenty of microphones and cajoled people to see the world the way that she does.

But sometimes words aren’t quite enough. So on Saturday night in KeyArena, the Bruins took action.

Stanford’s win over Colorado was no cakewalk, neither.

“It had the intensity of a (NCAA) tournament game,” Chiney Ogwumike said after her 25-point, 19-rebound performance. But she sank just 9-of-24 field goal attempts.

Seems they’re enjoying playing in Seattle:

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is in the Emerald City this week, observing the new setting for his postseason women’s basketball tournament. He likes what he sees.

“This is certainly a big step forward,” Scott said.

After a dismal few years in Los Angeles, where tournament attendance lagged from its previous home in San Jose, Calif., things are picking up.

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maybe I’m old fashioned, but I find the Swish Appeal formatting confusing…but there’s lots of good stuff, so check it out.

2013 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament: Preview, predictions, schedule and games to watch for

Joanne P. McCallie’s journal: Preparing for the 2013 ACC Tournament

2013 Pac-12 tournament: Stanford’s path to reclaiming title will be tougher than usual

2013 Atlantic Sun tournament: FGCU looks to repeat as champions

From student-athletes:

Sarah Hansen’s journal: Studying for North Florida, and Sarah Hansen on FGCU’s win in A-Sun tournament

Lindsey Moore’s journal: Huskers ready for Iowa

Brittany Kennedy’s journal: Ready for N. Florida

Brianna Sanders’ journal: Excited for B1G tourney

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Saw the mom, birded through a (mini) blizzard, got to see my first King Eider, had my email hacked (so sorry, everyone! fingers crossed you’ve learned not to open goofy stuff like that), and oh, there was some basketball played.

In no apparent order:

Yada-yada-yada, Princeton wins and wins.

Lookee! Penn had a nice win over Harvard, 77-72, and followed it up with a win over Dartmouth.

Neither Arizona nor Arizona State are having much fun this season.

Cal’s having fun. So is Stanford. Too bad the PAC 12 regular season doesn’t end with a match up between these two.

I warned Navy that Army was stalking them, but did they listen? Noooooo.

As it should be, the Michigan/Michigan State rematch was much closer and decided by one point.

Rolling: Marist, Chattanooga, Quinnipiac, Boston U, Green Bay, Toledo, FGCU, Gonzaga, Seattle U, Albany, Charlotte (they’ve beaten Stetson, Davidson (Aleksandravicius  – wheee!), FGCU.. and don’t face Dayton in the regular season?), St. Joe’s (though it wasn’t easy), Delaware, San Diego State, Tennessee, Hampton, Texas Southern (they play Southern Feb 28th), Dayton (by the hair of their chinny chin chin), Baylor.

Baylor wears down turnover-prone UConn, UConn women’s basketball falls short against No. 1 Baylor 76-70, and from Mechelle: Griner gets best of Dolson, UConn

It wasn’t quite the mano-a-mano battle in a tight-spotlight focus that perhaps it could have been. Still, Baylor center Brittney Griner and her UConn counterpart, Stefanie Dolson, were quite an intriguing show Monday.

The No. 1-ranked team and defending NCAA champion solidified its standing as Baylor won 76-70 in the game that women’s basketball fans have been looking forward to all season. For the most part, it lived up to expectations.

Not so fast! Creighton took down Wichita State, NKU took down Stetson, Arkansas Little Rock took down Middle Tennessee State, New Mexico State took down Utah State in a Debbie Antonelli special: 106-94.

Hello. That’s Hawai’i winning again. It took overtime, but they beat Pacific, 74-71, to claim a share of top place in the Big West.

Hello, again: St. Francis (NY): winning.

I’m going to add #19 Florida State to the “which one is gonna show up” group of Iowa and Iowa State (what with #24 ISU losing to WVa and Iowa defeating #18 Purdue.). They defeat #14 North Carolina, 80-73.

In a battle of ugly, Clemson over Va. Tech.

It has to be asked: Is head coach Paul Westhead to blame for Oregon women’s basketball’s losing season?

Congrats to Angel, who set the Kansas assist mark during their win over #22 Oklahoma. From Mechelle:

We see these scripts so often, especially in women’s basketball, where the ACL regularly plays the role of dastardly villain. Senior guard Angel Goodrich has been through two ACL injuries at Kansas: one that pre-empted what would have been her freshman season, and another that cut short her actual rookie year.

Yet here she was Sunday playing in her 100th game for the Jayhawks, finishing with 10 assists — the exact number she needed to break the KU women’s career record. Goodrich now has 687 assists, surpassing Lisa Braddy, who was at KU from 1986-90.

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Not an easy year for Semeka Randall’s Ohio team: they’re 0-10 in the MAC.

On the flip side, it’s the Great Danes of Albany at 11-0 in the Am. East. BU is trying to keep pace (10-1). Of course, it’s more about pride than the conference tournament, since they won’t be invited. Why? They’re moving to the Patriot League next year.

Speaking of the Patriot League: The Leopards made it a game, but Navy prevailed in OT, 60-42. Coaching at any Service Academy ain’t easy, but coach Pemper has done a nice job since arriving in -08.

FGCU (12-0 A-Sun) is still soaring. This time, their victim was USC Upstate, 72-49. Interesting commentary by David Moulton: Time for the A-Sun to set in FGCU athletics history

Six years ago, the Atlantic Sun conference was FGCU‘s savior. They were there when no one wanted the university.

FGCU has done well by the A-Sun and vice versa.

For example, just this year FGCU had the best volleyball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer teams in the conference with both soccer squads winning titles and earning NCAA berths. Both basketball teams are in first place with the women having not lost an A-Sun game in two years. The softball team is the defending conference champion and both the softball and baseball teams are pre-season favorites this year. Throw on top of that a Top 50 swimming/diving program and Florida Gulf Coast University is arguably the best athletic program in the A-Sun.

Which would be great if the Atlantic Sun conference wasn’t dying.

The Fightin’ Camels of Campbell (8-5) are trying to keep the Big South close by taking down conference top dog Winthrop (9-3), 84-69.

Cynthia’s Texas Southern is still winning. They now stand at 10-1 in the SWAC. Clearly, the runaway COY in the conference. They’ll face Southern, their best competition, on the 28th. The Jaguars (10-2) got surprised by Arkansas Little Rock (4-8), 59-50.

It was all Chambers for K-State (34,12,4), but she couldn’t overcome Iowa State’ Poppens and Christofferson.

That’s why sometimes a dunk is not just two points: it gets your teammates up and motivated: Baylor wipes the floor with Texas, 75-48. (Speaking of Baylor: Baylor women’s basketball transfer Destiny Brown enrolls at University of Delaware.)

Fresno State had a chance to claim the top spot in the Mountain West, but San Diego State  said, “No thank you, that spot is still ours.

Davidson (11-1) kept pace with Chattanooga (13-1) in the Southern by taking down Appalachian State, 56-49. The Mocs dismissed Elon, 63-40.

Again, it’s a long journey to recovery, but IUPUI is now 7-3 in the Summit. Of course, they have to face the Jackrabbits next, who may be looking for revenge. SDSU thumped Oakland, 83-48.

And again, I’m just sayin’: St. Francis (NY) wins again.

I’m sorry “I saw you,” Sam Houston: the Bearkats go down to their Southland conference challengers, 52-48.

It took OT, and 26pts from Smith, but St. John’s is still clinging to the NCAA tourney bubble — which is nice, since they’re a host.

Northern Colorado is on a roll, with back-to-back wins over the Montanas. They’re now a half game out of the top spot in the Big Sky.

Green Bay continues to be the class of the Horizon, dispatching Milwaukee, 64-49.

Couple of huge upsets: Bradley, (10-12, 4-7 in the MV) shocked Wichita State (16-7, 10-1). In fact, it wasn’t even close: the Braves by 20. #2 and #3 in the conference met, and the Redbirds of Illinois State took it to Creighton in the second half, capturing the 66-60 win.

Middle Tennessee (18-6, 13-2 Sun Belt) may have overlooked Troy (5-18, 2-12). IN Murfreesboro, the Trojans took the Blue Raiders to OT, and didn’t fade. MTSU goes down, 74-70.

It took 3OTs, but Arkansas finally got the win over Alabama, 91-80.

In the battle of the Tu’s, Tulsa used a strong second half to send the Green Wave to a loss.

The two top dogs met in the MAC (West & East), and Toledo topped Ball State, 68-64, but only after blowing a 20pt lead. The Cardinals will have a change for revenge on last day of conference play, March 6 @ Toledo.

Whyte did everything she could to keep Arizona in the game (26, 7, 8) but she couldn’t stop Cal from getting their 9th win in a row.

Charlotte gave St. Joe’s their first conference loss, and now there are four one-loss teams lurking behind Dayton. Actually, three, ’cause Dayton beat Fordham. But, unlike previous years, it wasn’t a cakewalk.

After the Lions roared away from Michigan State, the Big 10 is a bunch of teams looking up at Penn State – Purdue, Nebraska, Michigan and Illinois.

Fittingly, Delle Donne breaks Dawn Evans’ CAA scoring record against JMU. I’m sure she’s happier that Delaware got the win, 71-64. Oh, and the Hens’ pre-game trick shot was pretty cool, too.

In a battle of two teams who may have coaches feeling the heat, NC State raced away from Clemson, 79-45.

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No, I’m not talking about Baylor’s 17pt win over Oklahoma (or BG setting the all-time block record), or Notre Dame’s 45pt win over Providence (or Diggins’ 2000th point, joining Morgan, Gaither and Riley), or UConn’s 36 pt win over Cincinnati, or Oklahoma State’s 13pt win over Kansas, or Iowa State’s four point win over… well, actually, that was fun, in that they came back from 9 down in the first to beat West Virginia.

No, I’m talking about Stetson walking in to Naples and getting stomped by FGCU, 74-55. Yah, there’s bad blood between the programs, but don’t stir the pot if you can’t bring the needed ingredients, I say.

“It’s obviously a very big win for us,” said FGCU coach Karl Smesko, acknowledging Stetson as a top rival despite FGCU’s sizable advantage in the series. “Stetson’s not going to lose very many games in conference, so you’ve got to win your games at home against them.”

The Hatters will get a chance to even the score on February 23rd.

American squeezed by Army. They’re  joined by Navy atop the Patriot League, making the conference name seem quite appropriate.

It was all Enemkpali, as Texas got its first Big 12 win.

Ball State moved to 5-1 in the MAC, but at 6-0, Central Michigan may be the class of the league. We’ll see how they handle Bowling Green on the 3rd. Their rematch against Toledo (which they won, AT Toledo) is on the 24th. The Rockets had to do everything they could to escape MAC-winless NIU, 44-42.

In the Southern, Davidson powered past Elon in the second half, to move to 8-1 in conference play — .5 behind the Mocs, who defeated Appalachian State, 59-55. That rematch, the Wildcats lost at home the first game, will happen on Feb. 25th AT Chattanooga.

Green Bay dismissed Valpo, moving to 5-0 in the Horizon.

Quinnipiac held Fairleigh Dickinson to 13 in the second half, on their way to a 66-39 win. The Bobcats are now 7-0 in the NEC, and have their best start in program history.

After opening the season with three losses, and suffering their first conference loss, Seattle U recovered against Texas State and moved to 8-1 in the WAC. Utah State (7-2 in the Conference) is up next.

Nebraska-Omaha gave the Wabbits a wun for the munny, but South Dakota State held on for the 10pt win and the 7-1 Summit record.

St. Joe’s keeps up with Dayton, Duquesne and Fordham, and now  sits at 4-0 in the A-10.

‘Ware the Bengals: Idaho State took down conference top dog Montana State, 63-55. That made Montana, relieved 61-53 winners over winless Weber State, quite happy.

Albany is proving they’re the American East’s Big Dog.

Nice, nice win for San Francisco and coach Azzi: 65-56 over BYU, avenging their 80-58 loss in the WAC opener.

Coop’s Texas Southern keeps winning. This time, it was Alabama A&M on the losing end.

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while work has been kickin’ butt?

A whole lotta Griner and Baylor kickin’ Big 12 butt.

Oklahoma is continuing to win, despite injuries, and continuing to make Aston’s welcome to the Big 12 miserable.

TCU ain’t enjoying the Big 12 much, neither.

Texas Tech getting a nice, and somewhat surprising win, over #23 Kansas — unless, of course, KU ain’t all that, or TTU is something more than that.

Sacred Heart got a little of it’s swagger back, and handed St. Francis (PA) its first NEC loss.

Those Stetson Hatters are now 7-0 in the A-Sun (school record 10 wins in a row). They meet up fellow 7-0ers, FGCU, on January 26th, in Florida. Looks to be fun game.

It’s been a tough year so far, but the Bonnies can still beat UMass.

The Big South is kinda feisty. Winthrop took down Presbyterian. Liberty beat the Fightin’ Camels, and face Conference leader Longwood (who came back from 17 down to get a victory) next.

With a squeaker over New Hampshire, the Terriers have moved to 6-0 in the America East. They face 5-0 Albany next.

I’m not reading too much in to it, but it looks like the youngsters at Villanova have gotten some seasoning — they’re 4-0 in Big East play.

I’m still not reading too much in to it, but St. Francis (NY) won another game. Yes, wins in the past have been that rare that I notice. Credit new coach John Thurston.

Central Michigan stomped all over Northern Illinois, and is now 4-0 in the MAC. Akron got surprised by Western Michigan, but Toledo took care of Buffalo.

Looks like coach Michelle Clark-Heard learned a lot at Louisville:  The Hilltoppers are now 8-1 in the Sun Belt. They’ll meet fellow 8-1ers MTSU in a couple of games, January 27th AT Murfreesboro..

Hampton had a nice second half over Morgan State, and is now 4-0 in the MEAC.

In the Battle of the Big Sky, Tricia’s Montana State took down Robin’s Montana, 58-49.

Gonzaga has put together three straight wins since its lost against the Gaels of St. Mary.

Nice win for IUPUI and coach Parkinson (remember when they were a hot-coaching mess?) as they handed the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State their first Summit Conference loss, 57-56.

In the battle of the birds, the Phoenix took down the Penguins, and Green Bay is now 4-0 in the Horizon.

Boink: The Shockers moved to 4-0 in the MVC, after they gave Creighton their first Conference loss, 67-45.

Hmmm… that’s Seattle U at 7-0 in the WAC. Not looking too far ahead, but… they’ll go up against Utah State (currently 5-2) on Feb 2.

Chattanooga gave Davidson just enough hope to keep the game interesting, but exited with the win, 60-56, taking them to 6-1 in the Southern. That helps them keep pace with Samford and Elon.

In the past two days, two Elon University basketball players had something special happen to them on the hardwood in Alumni Gym.

One of them started most of their first two seasons. Then after suffering an injury two games into their junior season and missing the rest of the year, their playing time lessened, all the way to playing just 42 minutes in ten games this season.

Another one played two games of their sophomore season before tearing their ACL and missing over a year of basketball before returning to action this week.

Both played efficient minutes in their respective teams’ most recent games, helping to spark their teams to victory.

Marist may not be making national noise, but their still winning in the MAC. They held Canisius to 9 points in the first half.

Win or lose, Ohio State still has the Dispatch’s Jim Massie’s fine writing to fall back on. He reflects on the Buckeye’s struggles: Ohio State wants to add to success

As the Big Ten losses mounted, the Ohio State women’s basketball team had to develop the kind of tunnel vision that spelunkers need while exploring a cave as confining as a coffin.

At 0-4 in the conference, the only direction the Buckeyes could move was forward. And even after Ohio State trounced Indiana 68-45 on Thursday to end its losing streak, the single-mindedness couldn’t change.

While Nate considered Three things we learned about Stanford from the Battle of the Bay, Chiney made sure UCLA didn’t get any ideas, and led Stanford to a Bruin-stomping, 75-49. Writes Michelle:

Maybe playing Stanford on Friday night was a little like stepping in front of a freight train.

The Cardinal stared at the business end of a three-game home losing streak, something that hadn’t happened since way back in the 1986-87 season when Tara VanDerveer was a second-year Cardinal coach and parachute pants were all the rage.

Tomorrow, undefeated Duke goes to Connecticut to play the Huskies. At DWHoops, Rob Clough has a preview:

UConn’s top priority will be disconnecting Chelsea Gray from the rest of the team. They’ll face-guard her in an effort to get her to give up the ball or never get it in the first place. They’ll flood passing lanes in an effort to pick off passes made under duress. They’ll let her take contested jump shots all she wants, especially if Gray hesitates before shooting. If you hesitate before taking a shot against UConn, then they’ve already won.

As for UConn, Hartley was better against Louisville, but rolled her ankle (again) against Syracuse.

At Mel’s blog, Mike Siroky has his SEC Report: New Uniform for Bone – Still an SEC Star

Kelsey Bone is used to coming out parties.

Maybe all children born on New Year’s Eve arrive with great expectations.

She is back in the SEC after once playing at South Carolina and earning Newcomer of the Year honors with nine double-doubles. She transferred to Texas A&M and sat out the required year, but stayed busy. Last season, as a sophomore, she was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and a member of the conference all-tournament team.

A good, but hard read, from Lady Swish: You’re Old Dominion’s Sara Jones, and here’s what that means

The doctor didn’t believe that the cancer had come back.

“For that to be so,” he explained to Sara Jones, “it would have to have eaten through the bone.”

Somehow, it did.

For the third time, Sara Jones had cancer. For the third time Sara Jones, 40 years old, has cancer. Metastatic cancer, and metastatic — the cancer has spread to other parts of the body — is one of those words —malignant, chemotherapy, tumor — that it hurts to say. Especially when you think you’ve beaten cancer not once, but twice. Remember, you weren’t supposed to even have it in the first place. That’s what the doctor said not once, but twice.

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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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The Mocs go down to Elon – as the Phoenix fought back to take the game to overtime, and then motored to the 70-60 win.

And it’s not my fault ’cause Stetson seemed to avoid the WHB curse, moving to 4-0 in the A-Sun with their victory over Jacksonville.

Since their win over LSU, Florida Gulf Coast is on a roll — they too are at 4-0 in the A-Sun.

The Skyhawks are enjoying Conference play (pre-Conference, notsomuch)

College soon-to-bes get some love from espnW: 25 Power Rankings: Week 4

The espnW 25 Power Rankings welcomed one new face to the top 10 in Week 4, and the teams at the top continued to dig in their heels.

With coach Kevin Keirnan missing the game and Washington recruit Kelsey Plum racking up 30 points, No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) still managed to pull off a 70-52 victory over La Jolla Country Day (Calif.), which was ranked No. 19 earlier this season.

No. 2 Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) stepped on the gas when it felt heat from highly regarded Oakland (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and posted a 63-46 win to extend its winning streak to 39 games.

And speaking of winning streaks, No. 3 Duncanville (Texas) is at 54 games and counting.

 

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While the rest of the ranked teams (UCLA-recovering nicely from that Cal-Northridge oops, TAMU, Tennessee, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Cal) were dispatching their overmatched opponents by various ridiculous margins, two “undefeated” and ranked teams were tested: Georgia by the mighty Illini (6-5) and #25 Arkansas by the fierce Coppin State (4-7). One escaped, the other didn’t. What up with your scheduling, Dawgs and Hogs? (And yah, there are no upsets in women’s basketball, just inaccurately ranked teams, right? Which explains what happened to #20 Texas at the hands of Iowa, right?)

Is the Stanford/UConn game on yet? (UConn’s Geno Auriemma, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer expect lots of offenseStanford-UConn: More Than A Fairy Tale,

While you’re waiting, check out Mel’s blog on early Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year candidates. (I’ll say, as a Lib fan of “a certain age and longevity, I’ve been following the Hilltoppers since Shea Mahoney. Flashback, much?)

Then wander over to Swish Appeal and check out The state of the WNBA: 2012 edition

Hmmm… maybe the third year’s the charm for Caldwell. Her LSU team goes down to FGCU.

Will Spidey make the Tourney? Bilney! They might!

How tough is it in Sooner-land? The volleyball players are coming to the rescue.

From at Amy Farnum the NCAA.com: Forging the path – Kansas star Goodrich looks to inspire other Native Americans

Kansas senior point guard Angel Goodrich may be known for her vision on the court in women’s basketball circles, but it is her perseverance that may be her greatest strength.

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people pay more attention to your first game.

#8 Ohio State got silenced by #9 Florida, 70-65 (even though the Gators did try to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.) Enjoy it while you can, Florida: Baylor is up next.

The bigger upset was #13 Marist taking down #4 Georgia, 76-70. Kudos to the Red Foxes for not folding after losing the lead late in the second half. Even more kudos to coach Giorgis for getting the win (his third 13 over 4) with a team many thought was vulnerable. Writes Graham: Brian Giorgis makes Marist magic happen

#6 Nebraska gave #11 Kansas the early 8-point lead and never could catch up. Jayhawk Angel Goodrich notched 20pts and 5 rebounds.

San Diego kept it close, but in the end, Nikki Caldwell and LSU earned a 64-56 win – mostly in part to the return of LaSondra Barrett.

There were some serious near misses for the higher ranked teams: Dem #14 Creighton Blue Jays gave #3 St. John’s all they could handle, and then some (even the ESPN headline writer thought they’d pulled off the upset: Creighton wins at buzzer  (Dated line Sunday, 7:40pm, EST). But no, it was a coast-to-coast layup by (who else) Jeanette Pohlen… I mean, Nadirah McKenith that rescued the Johnnies, 69-67.

#12 Fresno State shot poorly, and yet still had a chance to take down #5 Georgetown. The Hoyas pulled it out, 61-56, but you’ve got to wonder how far they can go without more Sugar.

A last second layup got #12 FGCU into overtime, but the #5 Bonnies regrouped and gutted out a 72-65 win.

Put it in the books: the first Tourney win for the #3 Delaware program, and the player people were waiting to see didn’t disappoint: 39pts, 11 rebounds against # 14 UALR. Oh, and she took some time to do some writing: Expect a large Delle Donne contingent.

Nice, solid effort by #8 Cal’s “newbies to the Tourney”, as they took down a stubborn #9 Iowa, 84-74. Writes Matt Fortuna: Brittany Boyd delivers for Bears

#10 Middle Tennessee didn’t have enough in the tank to deal with #7 Vanderbilt: ‘dores win, 60-46.

#4 Georgia Tech freshman Wallace left nothing to chance, and her Yellow Jackets stung #13 Sacred Heart, 76-50.

#6 Oklahoma enjoyed every inch of home court, tattooing Michigan, 88-67.

#4 Penn State outscored a stubborn #13 UTEP team in the second by 8 — and that was the margin of victory.

The #1s took similar paths: crush their opponents in the first half, cruise in the second half. Side note: Sims did not start and Kim says “She knows why.” Ummm, hello folks, it’s the TOURNAMENT. Keep yourselves together.

Duke didn’t need Williams (24 minutes, 4/10, 3rebounds) to defeat Samford 82-47, but I’m sure they will soon.

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Tournament Has a Different Feel for Lady Vols

Another women’s N.C.A.A. basketball tournament approaches and Tennessee is seeking to hang a ninth championship banner in the rafters. But the usual postseason excitement is tinged with somber uncertainty, given that this year’s tournament might be more about departure than arrival.

Don’t forget to check out Kim’s Daily News page for tons of links. Some that stood out for me:

Albany: Coach Abe has a winning way
BYU: Knee failed 3 times, but Haley Steed had heart
Eastern Michigan: Eagles head toward NCAA tournament
Florida Gulf Coast, St. Bonaventure: Three will be key for Eagles, Bonnies in NCAA Tournament game
Fresno State: Bulldogs women’s basketball team can hear ghost of Michael Jordan
Middle Tennessee State: Lady Raiders unfazed by stage
Navy: Latest Navy Women’s Basketball NCAA Tournament Diary
Penn State: Washington Hasn’t Lost Sight of Portland’s Success on Court
St. Bonaventure: St. Bonaventure living the good life as FGCU awaits
UTEP: ‘Hard work pays off’: UTEP assistant draws on experience
UW Green Bay: Green Bay Way makes mid-major one of country’s top women’s programs

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Top NCAA women’s seeds could be tested on road

Putting together the NCAA bracket is one giant jigsaw puzzle. The selection committee tries to make every piece fit using a certain list of procedures and principles.

This year, the group was in a bind because many of the host schools for the opening two rounds were going to be seeded in the lower half of the bracket. Only three of the top 16 teams in the tournament were sites for the first two rounds, leaving many of the higher seeds left to potentially play on opposing floors.

The committee spent hours trying to avoid that situation. They actually had three brackets working at once, but in the end it was impossible to make it work.

From fellow-APer Tim Reynolds: Florida Gulf Coast’s long-awaited NCAA trip awaits

More 3-pointers made than any team in the country. One of only four teams ranked among the nation’s top 15 in both points scored and points allowed per game. Owners of the third-longest current winning streak in women’s basketball, along with the fifth-best record in the nation.

Yes, Florida Gulf Coast’s resume is catchy.

Forgive the Eagles if they’re not impressed.

Florida Gulf Coast—which is headed to NCAA tournament in its first season of eligibility, five years after playing in the Division II championship game and then transitioning to the top level of college sports—isn’t that keen about keeping up on all its numbers, even though many of those stats have the Eagles in line with the nation’s elite.

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When looking at the 1/16s and 2/15s, it’s amazing to see how many regular season conference winners aren’t involved. Random first round games I’m looking forward to:

Georgetown v. Fresno State: Can’t wait to see the Bulldog on Bulldog battle. The Cali-dogs have been more consistent than the Eastcoast-dogs, and they’re seriously threatening from beyond the three-point line.

Nebraska v. Kansas: Nebraska’s been up and down. I’ll be intrigued to see which Husker team shows up a Kansas team that hasn’t been to the Tourney since 2000.

Delaware v. UALR: Who doesn’t want to watch a first round match-up that doesn’t feature a member of the “Big 6” conferences? CAA v. Sun Belt. Let’s go!

BYU-DePaul: Coach Bruno has done a great job cobbling together a team out of spare parts. BYU is trying help out its new conference.

Tennessee-Tennessee-Martin: Coach Summitt goes up against her high scoring alma mater.

Cal-Iowa: It’s an important game for a program that wants to show that Stanford ain’t it for the Pac-12.

St. Bonaventure-FGCU: Two “Cinderella” stories. Again, two non-6ers clashing. How will the Bonnies handle the Eagles’ flurry of threes?

Georgia-Marist – This isn’t coach Giorgis’ best team, but they’re also going up a rather confusing Georgia team. Interesting match-up.

Louisville-Michigan StateTwo teams with talent but confusing results. They’ve both fought hard to get to the Tournament.

West Virginia-Texas: Considering how much I picked on Texas, they’ll probably make a run at the Final Four.

South Carolina-Eastern Michigan: EMU’s point guard Tavelyn James played for USA Basketball, the first MAC player to be selected.  How will legendary USA point guard Dawn Staley plan against her?

Green Bay-Iowa State: Watching the selection show last night, my non-follower of wbball friend (who’s gotten vaguely interested now that the Huskers are makin’ noise) said: “Wait, 30-1 and they get a 7-seed?!?!” This’ll be Green Bay’s chance to show folks they were underrated.

LSU-San Diego State: Shhhh! There’s a baby in the house! (I feel a drinking game coming on!) Because of her time at UCLA, Caldwell is  familiar with Beth Burns’ team and their feisty guards.

Princeton-Kansas State: Tigers first AP ranking followed by the highest seed in the Tourney? My grandpa would have been proud. Take down a Big 6 team? Wow.

Queenie has her own unique take on the First Round Dance Cards.

At Swish Appeal, 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Links: Reactions From Around SB Nation

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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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attention from Graham for their long, steady evolution into an A-Sun power: FGCU eyes first NCAA tournament – Eagles a 3-point launching, turnover-forcing group just on the outskirts of the Top 25

For a guy who hasn’t gone anywhere, Karl Smesko has come a long way.

As a result, Florida Gulf Coast is going places.

A decade ago, Smesko was the coach of what he thought would be an NAIA program, one that had yet to play its first game. He worked out of a makeshift office in a trailer he shared with other members of the fledgling athletic department. His first individual workouts took place on the asphalt of an outdoor court, constructing a team even as the school in Fort Myers, Fla., constructed a building in which it could play.

Yet his team won by 17 points the first time it took the court. The next night, it won by 46 points. It lost just once that first season, rolling to a 30-1 record against the likes of Indiana Tech, Cardinal Stritch University and Flagler College.

Like a lot of coaches winning in the most distant reaches of college basketball, Smesko moved on to bigger and better things. Unlike almost any of his peers, he didn’t actually move to do so, save for relocating to a better office.

Longtime readers of the WHB are familiar with the Eagles’ story, but it’s great to have them get wider exposure. Focusing on the non-big six conferences is an essential part of building the game from the bottom, middle and top.  I’m looking forward to ESPN’s stories of program redemption (Fresno State, 10-0 WAC), program (re?) emergence (Boston University, 13-1, Am. East), program building (UTEP, 13-0 C-USA), and program fortitude (Middle Tennessee 14-0, Sun Belt).

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Happened to a few fer-0s.

Key parts have been missing for both teams (coach and star player), but in a game of almost equal and opposite halves, it was Toledo who topped Bowling Green, sending the Phoenix to their first MAC conference loss.

Good match up in the MEAC between Florida A&M (10-1) and Howard (10-2). The Bison emerged victorious, sending the Rattlers to their first conference loss, 68-61.

Here the game Debbie and Beth would have loved: Eastern Illinois (11-1) v. Tennessee-Martin (11-1). Skyhawks had a big lead in the first, Panthers roar back, then Skyhawks explode for 16 in OT to hand EIU their first loss in the OVC, 94-86.

Dayton was thiiiiiiiiis close to the upset, but #25 St. Bonaventure, and Megan Van Tatenhove, didn’t let entering the top 25 distract them, and got the win, 56-55. (Aren’t pre-season polls interesting?)

Boston University easily dismissed Stony Brook, and the Terriers are now 12-0 in the America East. (Might be nice to see a story on’em…hint, hint)

FGCU’s record in the A-Sun is still pristine (and the regular season title is clinched), as is Fresno State’s in the WAC.

After their 20-pt. win over Holy Cross, American U is 10-0 in the Patriot. (Another team that might be worth a story — tracing the transition from McFerrin, who built the program, to now 4th year coach Matt Corkery)

Princeton (84-56) carved up the Crimson, 84-56, making them odds on favorites in the Ivy. From coach B: Three 1,000 point scorers in one season – proud is an understatement.

There was no surprising Baylor this time, thankyouverymuch. A sold out house listened, then watched the Bears crush the Aggies, 71-48. (Blair gets a lot of chuckles: “Sometimes the key to beating Baylor is the key itself. Lock Griner in the bathroom, don’t let her out” ) I am wondering, though, if there’s some kind of message hidden in Griner’s 40 minutes and Sims’ 38.

Looks like the Camels were spitting mad and took it out on Big South Big(ish) Dog High Point, 89-68.

Bombs away! 18 three pointers? That must have been some YUM fun! (Unless, of course, you were a Syracuse fan.)

Yah, it took two OTs, but Liberty is now 10-1 in the Big South.

‘Ware the Sugar Bears of Central Arkansas! They hog tied McNeese State 64-53, and are now 10-1 in the Southland.

Can you get a double double-double? #9 Green Bay need every single one of Wojita’s 30 points, 20 rebounds, 8 steals and 5 assists and 4 blocks (They’re still tallying the total number of programs, hot dogs and sodas she sold.) to escape the much improved Wright State, 64-59.

No, Vermont is not the team of Pilypaitis and Kotsopoulos, but you still gotta pay attention to them and their history. Which is why it’s important to note that New Hampshire beat them, 58-48. Another great story in the Am. East.

The Mountaineers have climbed to 14-1 in the Southern.

The Jackrabbits hopped over the Kangaroos, 79-73, and now South Dakota State sits at 12-1 in the Summit. It would have been fun to hear the play-by-play folks handle the names of the top scorers from both teams: Sunnarborg and Nezianya.

San Diego State had to come back from a couple down to secure the 77-64 win over UNLV and move to 8-1 in the MWC.

Am I right in remembering that San Diego has been a tad fodder-esque over the years? Not so much this year: they’re 9-3 in the WCC.

At 9-1 in the A-10, the Owls are now quietly stalking the Bonnies.

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Yes, they were missing Thomas, but still…Maryland losing to Va Tech? At home? Gotta be the upset of the season. (Hmmm, maybe there’s an anti-WHB curse goin’ on — I poke Kansas, I poke Va Tech… and look what happens!) DC BasketCases keep their reaction short and (not so) sweet.

If you though the Terps’ 19 TOs were bad, look at Auburn: 30 against Kentucky, and the loss.

Vandy regrets dropping out of the polls and took it out on #15 Georgia, 68-48.

No problems for Baylor as they took care of Oklahoma and (oh, oh) Griner hit a… three!?! (That’s just not fair.) Oh, and how cool is this? At the New York Times Krista Pirtle of The Lariat at Baylor University will file reports about the top-ranked Baylor Lady Bears throughout the season for The Quad.

Hofstra put up a great fight in the first half, and was tied with Delaware going into the break. Then EDD took over: 41pts, 15 rebs, 5 assists, and the Pride fell, 84-66.

It took overtime, but the Illini got their first Big 10 win: 71-62 over Michigan State.

The Tribe finally win a close one: William & Mary 83, ODU 80. Oh, and it’s their first win against ODU in 53 tries. (Great photo.)

Whoa! The Penguins (3-5 Horizon) took down Detroit (5-3 Horizon), 80-67.

FGCU beat up on the Mercer Bears, 92-55.

Bookends in the C-USA: UTEP goes to 7-0 in conference play (and coach Adams gets her 300th win) and sends Southern Miss to 0-7.

Looks like this isn’t the Vikings’ year — perhaps it’s the Bobcats’? Montana State 70, Portland State 50.

Six of Arizona’s seven losses are in the PAC-12.

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a pause to ponder who to watch in (or out) of your neighborhood:

America East: Hartford sits atop the standings, but watch out for BU. And, might we have to learn New Hampshire’s mascot?

The Musketeers no longer rule the A-10. Perhaps Dayton will fly to the top, but at the moment it’s the Bonnies and Dukes who have the upper hand. Don’t ignore the Spiders…

It’s the Terps at 11-0 who are looking down at the rest of the ACC. Will the Tar Heels be able to right the ship during conference play? And while I don’t want to be too cavalier about the Cavalier’s 10-2 record, though their January 2nd game against Duke may give us a truer assessment of their mettle.

This is fun to type: The Hatters top the A-Sun. My gut says they won’t rule the FGCU Eagles.  Makes the NCST/FGCU game tomorrow worth keeping an eye on.

Yah, Mechelle says the Big 12 always offers an upset — but I’m not betting against Baylor running the table. Are the Red Raiders riding under the radar?

The Big East currently holds six ranked teams… but fess up, aren’t you really focusing on the two Irish/Huskies tilts? (Jan 7th and Feb 27th.)

Bloggin’ coach Tricia Binford…

Since I have been asked the question daily why we have two weeks between our North Dakota and Illinois games I thought I could just tell you all on my blog.

Scheduling preseason games is one of the most challenging tasks we have here at Montana State. That’s why I gave the task to Amy!

Scheduling away games is easy as EVERYONE wants a home game. Home games, however for a remote, and winterland tropicana, NOT SO EASY. If I was a California school I would be jumping at our offer to come play us. How many times do your players get to make snow angels or have a snowball fight.

…has her Montana State Bobcats (no, I’m NOT calling them the Lady ‘cats) high in the Big Sky. Of course, the sturdy Vikings of Portland State (though they’ve stumbled out of the gate a bit) are lurking.

Okay. Maybe typing this makes me happier: The Chanticleers rank above the Fighting Camels in the Big South (formerly the land where Liberty ruled). Oh, and since I know you’re wondering what, exactly, is a Chanticleer (no, it’s not these guys), click here to find out. Scanning the list, methinks the Big South has the best collection of nicknames….

Speaking of interesting collections, how about the handful of teams sitting at the top of the Big Ten? Yah, 13-0 Ohio State, but followed by Nebraska? Michigan? Northwestern (ouch)?

The Big West is a bit of a hot mess, to be honest. I can’t imagine working with the UC budgets is helping any of the programs thrive.

The big story out of the Colonial is Delaware, of course, but don’t sleep on the Hofstra Pride. They host the noteworthy Princeton Tigers at the Mack 4pm, Jan 29th. Hmmm… pondering a road trip.

C-USA is under construction next year, what with the realignment roundabout, but it looks like the Miners, Green Wave, Blazers and Tigers will go out with a bang.

There are only four teams listed amongst the Independents, and it looks like Nebraska-Omaha (aka, UNOs) and Joan Bonavicini’s Seattle U will fight for the top spot.

The Great West covers a lot of territory (New Jersey to Texas to North Dakota to Utah to Illinois) but not quite sure their talent level is that expansive.

I’m not saying that the 10-0 (and #10) Phoenix of Green Bay won’t rule the Horizon League, but c’mon! The Penguins are 6-4! (Call it the Ornithological Bias.) (Dang, 6-5.)

The Ivy League title seems destined to go to the Tigers, but are the Quakers shakin‘?

The Fairfield Stags of the MAAC stand at 7-3 (of course, they play UConn next. Oops.) followed by the Rider Broncs. The Red Foxes are at 5-5, but they might bite.

The MAC has been ruled by Bowling Green — they currently have the same record as the Miami (OH). Will coach Fantanarosa‘s Red Hawks topple coach Miller’s Falcons?

Looks like Hampton will pirate their way through the MEAC, but Bison are always unpredictable (check out the coach cam!).

In the Missouri Valley it’s the Bradley Braves (who lost to the Hatters), but I wonder if Missouri State and Northern Iowa will surge ahead of them once conference games come in to play.

The Mountain West is another conference in flux, but right now all eyes are on Kathy Olivier’s (ooo – did we catch this watn? Nikki Blue is assisting.) UNLV Rebels.

Usually I expect to see St. Francis (PA) Red Flash dominating the Northeast. Not this year — it’s Sacred Heart (CT). Interesting: the Pioneers play the Bonnies Jan 3nd.

Let’s let the Ohio Valley quietly sort itself out in conference play, shall we?

Yah, this will last: Pac-12 rankings have Colorado (11-0) in the top spot, followed by Arizona (who face UNLV tomorrow). Stanford clings to the #3 spot.

It’s all smushed up in the Patriot League, though American holds the #1 spot.

Yup, time for conference play in the SEC: You’ve got #6 Kentucky, #25 Vanderbilt, Arkansas, #17 Georgia and South Carolina. At 7-3, #7 Tennessee finds itself in 10th place.

Conference play is well underway in the Southern, but the top four teams (Furman, Appalachian State, Chattanooga and Davidson) have yet to play each other.

The Southland East (McNeese State) and West (Stephen F. Austin) are familiar. Looks like Central Arkansas might be the biggest threat to the Cowgirls.

As for the SWAC, please see Ohio Valley.

For the moment, I’ll say that for the Summit, see the SWAC. But it’s hard not to have a soft spot for the Jackrabbits.

Middle Tennessee is not the powerhouse it has been, but looks like they’ll still rule the Sun Belt (East). It will be interesting to see if Aston’s Mean Green North Texas team can challenge Denver.

In the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga’s gotten the (well deserved) press, but check out new-to-the conference BYU and its 11-2 record.

Last but not least, it looks like Spoon’s Techsters will have to hop to it to catch Fresno State.

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FGCU will become full-fledged member of NCAA Divison I today

“FORT MYERS 60, BETH-COOK 57.”

It was a peculiar sight for then-Florida Gulf Coast University junior third baseman Cheyenne Jenks when she first saw how ESPN labeled her school as the men’s basketball team made its first appearance on ESPN’s ticker the night of Nov. 12, 2007.

Then-men’s hoops coachDave Balza was hot. So was then-athletic director Carl McAloose, who had his sports information director clear things up with ESPN.

Sort of.

ESPN’s solution? “FL GLF CST.”

“That was infuriating,” McAloose said. “You finally get on the ticker and nobody knows what the heck they’re talking about.”

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the FGCU coach is craaaaan-ky! Change to 3-point distance has FGCU coach fuming

“I’m not somebody who really supports the change, for sure,” Smesko said. “Right now it’s done and there’s not much I can do about it. I hate to see them make a move that I think has more to do with following the men’s game or to get one line on the floor. If this was a good move, why didn’t we do it before now?

“I don’t know how it got started or by who, what the motivation was, but this is something they’re saying they’re doing so we can have one line on the court instead of two, and now that it’s happened, we’ve got to deal with it.”

Hey, I can understand his crankiness. Don’ have much tolerance for his ignorance (“I don’t know how it got started or by who”) of NCAA rule procedure. If he wants to be a NCAA D1 program, he should take the time to learn that there’s something called the Rules Committee, currently chaired by committee chair Leslie Claybrook, senior associate athletic director at Rice, that gets input from coaches and such, and they’ve been talking about the 3-point line for a while. From the 2010 report:

2. EXPERIMENTAL RULE FOR 2010‐11 SEASON
In a continued effort to examine the distance of the three‐point line, the committee proposed that during all exhibition games and 40‐minute game‐like scrimmages, the current men’s three point line of 20 feet, 9 inches, be used as the three‐point field goal distance. The current distance for the women’s three‐point line is 19 feet, 9 inches.

Data collected by the committee from all three divisions showed that more than 60 percent of three‐point shots are being taken from behind the men’s line with comparable shooting percentages. The experimental rule will allow the committee to augment data for future consideration, as well as analyze qualitative data from coaches.

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Monday, March 21

Syracuse 63, St. Bonaventure 50
Eastern Michigan 63, UNC Wilmington 54
Florida 73, Florida Gulf Coast 69
Oral Roberts 92, Tulane 86
Colorado 81, California 65
Wyoming 75, Oklahoma State 71

Up next: Third Round

Tuesday, March 22
Alabama at Toledo, 7 p.m. EST

Wednesday, March 23
Arkansas  at Oral Roberts, 8 p.m. EST
Southern Cal at BYU, 9 p.m. EST

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