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From Jeff Jacobs at CT Now/Hartford Courant: Quinnipiac: Becoming A Giant: AD Jack McDonald’s Vision Is Turning Into Reality

“I’m the luckiest AD on the planet. Our programs, the medical school, the law school, Now, people use the words ‘up and coming.’ It is one of the hottest schools, athletically, academically, career-wise in the region. And today, today is a great step.”

St. Patrick’s Day would be a great Sunday for McDonald. After the “Irish Eyes are Miling” run in Cheshire, he would watch the fans storm Lender Court in celebration. Three hours later, the fans went crazy as the Bobcats pulled the goalie in the closing moments, tied the final game of ECAC quarterfinal series against Cornell at 2 and won it 3-2 with 5:52 left in double overtime on a goal by Kevin Bui.

Also out of Connecticut: Carl Adamec says, “Planting NCAA seeds takes some guesswork

You don’t need a degree from ESPNU to be a bracketologist.

Some knowledge is required, yes, but it’s the love of the game that qualifies you. So please join us. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Your guess is as good as anyone’s, including ESPN’s.

The 64 women’s basketball teams that will take part in the NCAA tournament will be announced Monday at 7 p.m. There are a lot of things we know and a lot of things we don’t. But trying to figure it out is where all the fun comes in.

Charlie discusses Things to look for Monday night – ESPN’s NCAA Selection Special is at 7 ET; coverage continues on ESPNU at 8 ET

Even as the final bracket projection was put together this weekend, some of the questions that popped up throughout the season still lingered. How the selection committee answers them will go a long way toward determining what the NCAA tournament bracket looks like when it’s unveiled on Selection Monday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET, with continued coverage on ESPNU at 8 p.m. ET).

Here are the questions I’m most anxious to see answered Monday night.

The Rebkellian beknighted takes a shot at the Dancers using RPI

Full Court has a question (that might upset Bridgeport, CT folks): Will principles or profit guide NCAA bracketing?

it would be a surprise to nearly everyone involved in women’s basketball if the top four seeds are not Baylor, Notre Dame, Connecticut and Stanford in pretty much that order, as they have been the consensus top four for most, if not all, of the season.

That doesn’t mean, however, that there won’t be a very big question mark surrounding the bracketing of the four heavyweights. Because while most assume that UConn will be holding court in the Bridgeport, Conn., Regional, just as they have played at or near their home floor in the early and regional rounds for the past several years, it will take a major piece of legerdemain for the Selection Committee to get them there this year.

Also at Full Court, Paul White: Mid-Majors hold to script, for the most part

Players on NCAA Tournament bubble teams can breathe a bit easier after this week’s conclusion of the mid-major postseason tournaments.

Losses by St. Joseph’s (Atlantic 10), Green Bay (Horizon) and Delaware (Colonial Athletic) – as well as perhaps even Quinnipiac (Northeast) – in conference tournament finals would have provided NCAA Tournament bids to teams that would not have gotten in otherwise. All favorites prevailed, though, so bubble team supporters don’t have to chew on those fingernails quite so viciously in advance of Monday’s Selection Show.

Speaking of Mid-Majors, Lady Swish gives Hampton their due: Four–ward progress – Hampton does it again

David Six keeps insisting that when the 2012-13 Hampton Lady Pirates first assembled last fall, they weren’t very good.

Sure didn’t take ’em long to catch on. Or catch fire. Or leave the rest of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in their wake once again.

In a never-in-doubt MEAC title game, the Lady Pirates smoked Howard 59-38 Saturday at the Norfolk Scope to complete a perfect conference schedule – 16-0 regular season; 3-0 tournament – claim their fourth straight conference crown and book yet another ticket to the NCAA Tournament. 

“I’m not going to say where we should be seeded, but I don’t think we’re a 15 or 16 seed,” said Six, who along with many others felt Hampton was underseeded at 16 last season. “I haven’t seen all the other teams play, but we’ve got some quality wins. I certainly don’t think we’re a 15, 16. I think 13 is fair.

Matt Sussman at Hustle Belt says,“Watch out for Central Michigan”:

CMU always had potential. They had a litany of good nonconference wins, perhaps the best collection in all of the MAC. They just had one too many conference losses which forced them into the quarterfinals instead of the semis. Then they got to work; a 33-point victory over Bowling Green, a second win against Toledo and now this masterpiece over the Zips.

Richard Kent at Swish Appeal has Five teams to watch in the 2013 NCAA Tournament

As we ponder and wonder what’s going to happen tonight and consider the future of the tournament, a little flashback:

2007: The NCAA Selection Committee: Opening the Vault and Looking Inside

Every year the (now) “Tuesday Night Quarterbacking” that follows Division I’s “Selection Monday” becomes a passionate exercise in “what ifs” and “how comes.” Depending on a coach’s relationship to those fortunate 64 teams, discussions can be fraught with emotion or wrapped in an almost scientific detachment. Most years one can guarantee the focus of people’s dissatisfaction will either be on the teams selected or on the make up of the brackets.

But last year, in a sort of basketball “perfect storm,” the ire was aimed at both. What followed was a firestorm (and some mocking) in the press and barbed comments from coaches about who got in, who got left out, why so many tops seeds were put in one region, why a top seed should play on a lower seed’s de facto home court, and on and on.

“It got a lot of attention,” reflected Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson, in perhaps the understatement of the season.

2009: NCAA TOURNAMENT HOSTING: Hidden Hurdles and Helpful Hints

As college basketball moves into its season of review and reflection, doubtless there will be many discussions about the 2009  Division Itournament and the logistics of seeding, the needs of hosting, the restrictions of television and the current economic reality.

But as the women’s game seeks to strike the balance between a competitively balanced tournament and a well-attended one, we would be remiss to not examine the successes and challenges faced by the host institutions themselves. What lessons were learned and how might they be applied to games and tournaments across the Divisions?

Full Court’s John McGraw and Trevor Goodson are in Frankfort, Kentucky where Defense gets it done in NAIA Elite 8

Most of the time when teams fail to put points on the board in basketball, the outcome is considered ugly.  This was not the case as the top eight teams in the NAIA squared off for a chance to go the prestigious “Fab Four”, the NAIA version of the Final Four.  No team managed more than 63 points which happened when Cumberland (TN) barely edged Lubbock Christian (TX) 63-61.   Earlier in the day Westminster (UT) and Westmont (CA) combined for 75 (39-36) points in what was the lowest scoring game in NAIA tournament history.  These were great games though, games that any basketball junkie would have enjoyed because the defense on display was a close to perfect as possible. 

In other W news, Jayda talk with Sue Bird about her knee surgery

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Swoopes, 40, as passionate as ever – Despite Shock’s 1-9 record, legend looks for best way she can help Tulsa, teammates

You might be wondering how this could be fun for Sheryl Swoopes. She has won everything there is to win in women’s basketball, and so returning for another WNBA season at age 40 had nothing to do with pursuing an ultimate triumph that had eluded her.

Sure, she felt she’d deserved more of a chance to exit the WNBA on her own terms. Yet as the calendar turned to 2011, she was no longer burning with a desire to prove something. In fact, it was as if the call came from the Tulsa Shock after Swoopes already had made some peace with the idea that sometimes you cross a finish line that has no tape to break or crowd to cheer for you.

Swoopes doesn’t act like a woman desperately chasing the sun and trying to keep it from setting. Yet …

Mechelle also chatted Thursday:

kevin (macon ga): Jeff Jacobs had an interesting article about Candace Parker. He suggested she might reach a point where we think of her as similar to oft-injured Fred Lynn rather than similar to dominant Wilt Chamberlain (two other players who won ROY and MVP the same season in their sport). Is it possible she’s headed towards being a case of potential lost to injuries?
Mechelle Voepel: One of things to remember, of course, is part of the time Candace Parker was out in the WNBA wasn’t because of an injury, but because she was on maternity leave … which obviously is not a factor in men’s sports. It seems like there’s been a lot of speculation about Parker that strikes me as a bit too alarmist – she’s still only 25 (birthday was in April). And while there is understandable concern about the time she’s missed and what it portends for her future, I’m not sticking her with the Fred Lynn tag by any means yet.

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On Margo

from Jeff Jacobs at the Hartford Courant: Margo Dydek’s Many Friends Mourning

Bill Tavares remembers chatting courtside before a game with the public relations person from another WNBA team when she suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, my God!”

Tavares, the Sun’s media relations manager, thought something had gone horribly wrong. Instead, there was one of the other team’s players — usually surly, always with a scowl — rolling on the floor, roaring with laughter. Next to her, on her back stretching, sharing the joke, was a 7-foot-2 giant of a woman.

“The PR person for the other team was in awe,” Tavares said. “She said, ‘I have never seen [that player] smile. I didn’t know she could.’

“Afterward, I told Margo. Margo just smiled and said, ‘She is a very nice person but she doesn’t trust too many people. You just need to get to know her.'”

That is the essence of Malgorzata Dydek, who died Friday at age 37 in Brisbane, Australia.

Margo didn’t just meet the world. She got to know it.

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Others weigh in…

Jayda has a look at the 2011 Draft but admits:

Who are we kidding? This is going to be all about Gonzaga PG Courtney Vandersloot and Georgia Tech wing Alex Montgomery with a little Storm news mixed in. The pair of Washingtonians represented the state well, getting selected third and 10th overall in the WNBA draft on Monday.

Mel checks in with his musings on the WNBA’s Draft Day

Watching two major entities working side-by-side Monday afternoon with the WNBA draft being held at the worldwide television headquarters of ESPN was tantamount to witnessing two major banking firms going through a major.

Hartford Courant sports columnist Jeff Jacobs focusing on Maya Moore noted as an aside, “It was hard to know exactly where the WNBA stopped and ESPN started.”

Considering how downsized draft day had been the last two seasons when the event returned to NBA Entertainment studios in Secaucus, N.J., just across the Hudson River from New York, the arrangement worked out better for the most part for all parties concerned.

Where did I see someone comment, “ESPN cares more about the WNBA than the WNBA does.”

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