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That’s the phrase that comes to mind as I scan yesterday’s results… so many good teams upset and, suddenly, the season crafted to reach the NCAA’s is done.

ODU (17-16, 10-8) continued its unexpected tun  in the C-USA, surprising UTEP (26-4, 16-2 C-USA) with a strong fourth quarter.

The Lady Monarchs, who began the season 1-6 against a rugged schedule, are a win from returning to the NCAAs for the first time since 2008. They have not made a conference tournament final since they lost to James Madison in the Colonial Athletic Association championship in 2010.

“We knew coming into this game it was going to be tough, and we had to own our identity, which was passion, rebounding and defense,” Barefoot said. “Our offense has been flowing and we’ve been feeling really good about that, too.

In the MAC, Buffalo is still dancing, this time courtesy of their 88-87 win over Akron.

For the first time in school history, the University at Buffalo women’s basketball team will play for a Mid-American Conference championship after upsetting 5th-seeded Akron, 88-87, in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament on Friday afternoon.

“I’m just so proud of this young team,” head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. “They’re resilient, I tell you. We’re getting better.  We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re going to enjoy this moment for sure.”

Troy, who loves to score, withstood a furious comeback in the fourth quarter by Arkansas State took down the top-seed in the Sun Belt, 96-89.

“I thought this was a great women’s basketball game today,” Troy head coach Chanda Rigby said.  “When I got the opportunity to come to Troy, one of the things I wanted to do was carry on my style of being sold out to try and make women’s basketball more exciting.”

Sam Houston (13-17, 7-11) knocked Stephen F. Austin (18-12, 12-6) out of the Southland, 78-70.

Sam Houston (13-17) was tenacious inside, outrebounding the Ladyjacks, 42-27, led by 13 from Angela Beadle, who was one of four Bearkats in double-digits with 15 points. She also added her 1,000th career rebound and has 1,003. The Kats shot 49 percent from the field, the fourth-best mark of the season.

“I am very excited for Beadle,” Sam Houston head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols said. “At the end of the game, we leaned in to each other and said, ‘way overdue.’ There are a lot of great things that this game means to us. First of all, it’s a big rivalry, and second of all, we were able to advance to the next round. These ladies work hard and I am ecstatic.”

Idaho State (18-14, 8-10) sent North Dakota (18-13, 13-5) packing, and now has a shot at an NCAA Tourney slot.

“It was a tough game for us,” UND coach Travis Brewster said. “Really have to credit Idaho State. They came out and took it to us right away. From start to finish, they did a good job of pushing the tempo.

“We came out flat and battled back. But they answered every time we had a run.”

A little Big West Heartbreak: UC Davis spoiled UC Riverside’s perfect run in conference play, 81-72.

For the first time in nearly three months, UC Riverside couldn’t find a way to get up. The shorthanded Highlanders have held off bigger and more physical opponents this season, players essentially willing themselves to make it to the buzzer before exhaustion took over.

A little Patriot Heartbreak: We won’t get the Finals we expected. Joe Logan’s Loyola team pulled off a HUGE upset, holding off a furious comeback attempt by Bucknell, 66-53.

“I give great credit to Coach (Joe) Logan, his staff and his players. They played great in all aspects of the game,” Roussell said. “We just didn’t have it tonight and they played very well. Marshall and Smith were fantastic and the rest of the team really fed off them.”

Bradley almost joined the list of upset-eers, but Northern Iowa escaped into the MVC semis with a one-point win.

As Lerma drove to the top of the lane, she found the outstretched arms of the Panthers’ Stephanie Davison in front of her.

Lamar slipped in from the left side and knocked the ball free to let the Panthers avoid becoming the first top seed to lose in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley tourney since 2009.

“She is one of the best defensive players in the league and she was on the all-defensive team for a reason. She has such quick hands,’’ Bradley coach Michael Brooks said. “We gave the ball to our player who had been making great plays for us. It was just a great defensive player making a great defensive play.’’

Yes, it was a battle, but the Chippewas overcame Eastern Michigan, and are now one win away from the Big Dance.

“I know I’m going to sound like a broken record, but this team, they’re coachable,” Guevara said. “I can’t say that sometimes the best players that we had in the past, you know, were like this and totally bought in.”

Someone new will rule the MEAC: North Carolina A&T over Hampton, 63-54.

The win was vindication for an Aggies (18-11) team who came into the 2016 tournament with three straight losses in the semis. The win also snapped the Aggies’ six-game losing streak to the Pirates. N.C. A&T will make their first championship game appearance in seven years as they face Coppin State approximately at 4 p.m., Saturday at Scope Arena. The Aggies will be after their third MEAC tournament title and their first in seven years. The Aggies are 2-4 in MEAC title games and 0-2 in MEAC titles games versus Coppin State with losses to the Eagles in 1991 and 2008.

“We talked Wednesday about us having advanced to the semifinals three years in a row and we didn’t want to make it a fourth year in a row where we didn’t win and get to the championship game. I thought we found a way to win in the fourth quarter. I’m so excited for our seniors.”

Dancin’: As it should have been – Albany and Maine tussled back-and-forth for the America East title. eventually, the Great Danes came away with the 1-point win and the invitation to Dance.

“Whew!” said Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson who, with her team trailing by five at halftime, made sure the Great Danes knew what they needed to do.

“I just said, ‘We’ve got to get the ball to Shereesha and we’ve got to get the ball to Imani (Tate),’” she said. “That’s what we did and they really went to work.”

On tap today:

MAC Final: Buffalo v. Central Michigan, 1PM

SWAC Final: Southern v. Alabama State, 3PM

WAC Final: UT Rio Grande Valley v. New Mexico State, 4PM

Big Sky Final: Idaho State v. Idaho, 3:05PM

CAA Final: Drexel v. James Madison, 4PM

Horizon Semis: Northern Kentucky v Green Bay, 4PM, Wright State v. Milwaukee, 6:30

Big South: Radford v. Liberty, 4pm, Presbyterian College v. UNC Asheville

Southland Semis: McNeese State v. Central Arkansas, Sam Houston State v. Northwestern State

MVC Semis: Northern Iowa v. Southern Illinois, Missouri State v. Drake

Podcast: ‘Around the Rim’: Tickets Have Been Punched

In coaching news:

FIU fires women’s basketball coach Chinn

Chinn’s dismissal comes after he admitted to university officials that he had violated NCAA bylaws regarding impermissible benefits provided to a student-athlete.

UNF, former women’s basketball coach settle Title IX lawsuit for $1.25 million

The University of North Florida and its former women’s basketball coach Mary Tappmeyer have announced a settlement in Tappmeyer’s sex discrimination and retaliation claims associated with her termination from UNF in March 2015.

UNF will pay Tappmeyer $1.25 million to settle her claims, according to attorneys representing Tappmeyer.

She left the program as the only women’s basketball coach UNF had ever known. 

Player news: Leading scorer Lauren Aldridge leaving Kansas women’s basketball program

Player news: WNBA or the Army? Decision could mean battlefield or hardcourt for former Huntington Beach star

A decision about Kelsey Minato’s future is coming.

She was recently named the Patriot League Player of the Year for the third consecutive season. Last week, Minato broke the league’s all-time scoring record. She has scored more points than any woman, or man, who has ever played in the Patriot League.

In April, the 5-foot-6 guard will try out for the Women’s National Basketball Association. If she is drafted into the league or signs as a free agent, Minato can delay her commitment to serve five years in the U.S. Army. Remember David Robinson, the NBA superstar from the Naval Academy? Robinson served two years of active duty before he was eligible to begin his professional basketball career.

Conference news: Ivy League adds men’s and women’s basketball tournaments beginning 2017

Game news: Women’s basketball format change leads to fewer free throws

Numbers news: Analyze this

The disparity between NBA data — even data across all male sports — and WNBA data is glaring. Data for the WNBA is relegated to basic information: points, rebounds, steals, assists, turnovers, blocks. While worthy of being noted, those are the most rudimentary numbers in our game.

Data helps drive conversations, strategy, decision making. But data on its own isn’t terribly interesting. It needs context. It needs a storyteller. Data helps tell the story of a player, a team, an entire career.

There’s a need to value data in the WNBA because there’s a need to value the stories of our league. Think about baseball, for example, or men’s basketball. Fans, players, executives and media value stats and information because it helps to tell a story that many are already invested in. And if they’re not already invested, then it gives them a reason to be. It helps GMs make decisions. It informs contract negotiations. It enables player development.

It sparks barroom debates to last a frigid and barren Russia winter.

More numbers: Why Sue Bird Is Leading The Charge For More Data In WNBA

Video: Watch: Swin Cash Stars in Brawny Ad #StrengthHasNoGender

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Prairie Chicken

Sharp Tailed Grouse

Now I get to read about the other kind of hens.

From Graham: Blue Hens head to first Sweet 16

All right, how much do you really love the game?

That’s the question Elena Delle Donne told her dad she thought some higher power had posed when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease during her second season playing basketball at the University of Delaware.

She was the high school star who became even more famous for walking away from the game than she had been as a 6-foot-5 kid doing things on a basketball court nobody had ever seen someone her size do before.

She was the lost soul who found what she was looking for in the touch of a sister and the embrace of a community. And who found her way back to a game she once swore she would never again play.

From the AP: No regrets for Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne

Whenever Delaware’s NCAA Tournament run ends, Elena Delle Donne will look back on her college career with no regrets.

“Honestly, I think the happy ending has already occurred,” Blue Hens coach Tina Martin said. “The happy ending is that Elena is happy.”

Delaware will now face the Wildcats and the AP’s Garry Graves says Kentucky ready for matchup with Delaware star

“She’s only a part of what they do because they have team chemistry,” Mitchell said of Delle Donne. “You make a big mistake if you put it solely on one player. She’s very important obviously to what they want to do because she’s so talented, but we’ll be really trying to make this more about our team and how we do what we do well. I think that’ll be very important to make our tempo a factor, our defensive pressure a factor.”

Yes, Michigan women’s basketball season ends in blowout 73-40 loss to Stanford, which allows Michelle to offers: Stanford shoots into Sweet 16 – Cardinal’s Tinkle is lights out with career-high five 3-pointers

When Joslyn Tinkle sat in front of the microphone after the game and said “I deserved that game,” it was not a statement of conceit or ego.

It was the result of a bug in her ear by a sage head coach, who had a bit of an epiphany on Monday when she realized that her players might be experiencing more pressure than pleasure.

Looking to the future, Elliott Almond at the Mercury News writes: Stanford anticipates physical matchup with Georgia

The Bulldogs are led by Jasmine Hassell, a 6-foot-2 All-SEC forward, and Jasmine James, a 5-9 senior guard. Georgia has the kind of balanced team that has been difficult on the Cardinal (33-2).

Bring it on, Stanford players said Wednesday.

“I like games that might not be called closely,” said guard Sara James, whose lockdown defense helped the Cardinal defeat Michigan on Tuesday night. “I like to be physical.

Their fellow conference-mates had a tough time against the stubborn Bulls, but the California Golden Bears are heading into Sweet 16

The Cal women’s basketball team nearly imploded against a physical and battle-tested South Florida squad in the NCAA tournament’s round of 32, but regained its composure just in time.

After a nightmarish finish to regulation, the Bears needed overtime before they could finally celebrate an 82-78 win at United Spirit Arena on Monday that advances Cal to the Sweet 16 for just the second time in school history.

Stephanie Hammon chronicles Cal’s Reshanda Gray’s journey from South Central Los Angeles to Sweet 16

Reshanda Gray, the energetic 6-foot-3 forward on Cal’s Sweet Sixteen women’s basketball team, continues to live a Cinderella story.

If she hadn’t discovered basketball in middle school, Gray isn’t sure where life in South Central Los Angeles would have taken her. She’s pretty sure her path wouldn’t have included college.

Their win means the Bears will face the Tigers. Trey Illes at the TImes Picayune thinks the LSU women’s basketball team had magnificent victory against Penn State

Call them LSU’s Magnificent Seven. Lady Tigers senior guards Adrienne Webb and Bianca Lutley played the lead roles in sixth-seeded LSU’s 71-66 NCAA women’s basketball tournament victory against third-seeded Penn State on Tuesday night in LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Webb scored 29 points on 10 of 16 shooting, including three free throws in the final 21.8 seconds. Lutley, playing with four fouls, gave the Tigers the lead for good with 40.8 seconds with a bucket.

The Tigers hope for junior point guard Jeanne Kenney’s return but prep without her

From Kate Fagan: Kentucky’s Mathies guts it out

On Monday afternoon, Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell decided to answer a question that wasn’t even directed at him.

The query had been for guard A’dia Mathies, wondering if she was at all concerned after failing to score a basket in Kentucky’s first-round win against Navy. Mathies responded in her usual quiet manner, saying something about not letting one game define her. Then Mitchell leaned into his microphone and said, “I have no doubt that A’dia Mathies will play an outstanding game on Tuesday.”

At Swish Appeal, Queenie has Mathies carries Kentucky to Sweet Sixteen

Kentucky already knows one part of their future: Assistant Matt Insell is the new Ole Miss coach.

From Charlie: Defense leads the way for UConn – Huskies advance to 20th straight Sweet 16, where Maryland awaits

Saturday was about executing the offense and making shots. UConn’s second-round 77-44 victory over Vanderbilt on Monday had a different catalyst: defense.

The Huskies’ ability to win games by different means is the primary reason they’ve been at or near the top of women’s college basketball for six years. Call it dominance by versatility.

The offense wasn’t necessarily lousy Monday, but it wasn’t exactly clicking early. Yet 11 minutes into the game, the Huskies had forced nine turnovers and turned them into 15 points for a 23-13 lead. It didn’t matter that other than Stefanie Dolson, UConn’s passing was shaky. It didn’t matter that some of those 15-footers that fell in Saturday’s 68-point win over Idaho weren’t finding the bottom of the net against the Commodores for much of the first half. The Huskies’ defense was in control.

The UConn players give ESPN their best ‘Geno’ impressions.

UConn will face Maryland ’cause  the Terrapins’ Thomas was tough on Michigan State. From Gene Wang at the Washington Post: 

“I think it speaks volumes to Alyssa when the bigger the game, the bigger the stage and the moment, just how she rises to the occasion,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “I’ve said this before: The most competitive player I’ve ever coached. You see her will our team into her mind-set, and you continue to see that time and time again.”

Mark Cardillo says there’s Something About Maryland

Brenda Frese and her Maryland team — a team that lost three players to ACL injuries — is upbeat and isn’t happy to be merely a stepping stone to another UConn victory. Last season in the Sweet Sixteen, Maryland defeated then defending champion Texas A&M.

The schools met on Dec. 3 in Hartford, with the Huskies winning 63-48. Maryland players said they learn a lot from that experience and won’t be intimidated on Saturday

A cross-post, Nate points us to Jordan Esco

…this Oklahoma team has suffered more than maybe any other Sherri Coale team in her tenure and yet here they are, coming back to play in Oklahoma City and in the Sweet Sixteen. The magnitude of that and what this team has accomplished this year really cannot be emphasized enough…I don’t really care whether or not you’re aware they were so desperate for bodies, just to be able to go 5-on-5 in practices, that they had to borrow two players from the volleyball team.

At a certain point, it’s not really about that. At a certain point, it’s about recognizing the accomplishment and giving it the respect it/they deserve.

From the Oklahoma Daily: Women’s basketball looking strong for NCAA Elite Eight.

From the Oklahoman, Stephanie Kuzydym writes: Pat Summitt shaped Sherri Coale, Sooner players

Eyes grow wide, smiles spread and words like “legend” and “model” flow freely.

Tennessee head coach emeritus Pat Summitt shaped Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale and her players such as Whitney Hand, Jasmine Hartman and Joanna McFarland years ago.

On Sunday, Oklahoma will face Tennessee for the first time since a loss in Knoxville in January 2010. This Sweet 16 meeting will be the first time the Sooners will play the Vols without the legendary Summitt at the helm. After 38 years in charge, Summitt is in her first year as Tennessee’s head coach emeritus. She announced August 2011 that she was diagnosed with early onset dementia.

“I don’t know if there are any words,” Coale said of what Summitt did for women’s college basketball. “No one will ever rival what Pat Summitt’s done.”

Speaking of Tennessee, Dan Fleser says Lady Vols must deal with ‘head of the snake’ against Sooners.

And, deservedly so, Warlick finalist for rookie coaching award. After defeating Creighton, Tennessee is not in unfamiliar territory in Oklahoma City regional. The will want more on defense, though.

Down the hall from where Warlick spoke, the Lady Vols weren’t so impressed. They sat in harsher judgement on the stools in their locker room. The consensus opinion was that they shouldn’t be satisfied.

“Not at all; Not at all,” freshman Jasmine Jones said. “We made several mistakes on defense, but we were able to stay in the game. We have to be more consistent on our defense.”

Nate offers up: Louisville coach Jeff Walz proud of his team for overcoming adversity to make Sweet 16

The Louisville Cardinals are yet another team that sustained a few injuries this season in the Oklahoma City region and coach Jeff Walz credited his team for overcoming those after their 76-63 win over the Purdue Boilermakers to advance to the Sweet 16, as described by Mike Rutherford of SB Nation’s Louisville site Card Chronicle.

Lucky Cards get to face Baylor. Kevin Sherrington explains Why Baylor’s dominance is a good thing for women’s basketball. (How can THAT be?)

The AP’s Stephen Hawkins says Baylor is having fun while pursuing 2nd straight women’s title

Brittney Griner stopped at the edge of the podium, pulled out her iPhone and made a goofy face.

Before taking a self-portrait in front of the NCAA tournament backdrop after her final home game for Baylor, when she became the first woman with three dunks in a game, the 6-foot-8 Griner had teammates Brooklyn Pope and Odyssey Sims join her with silly grins of their own.

When coach Kim Mulkey turned and saw what was going on behind her, she started laughing.

Curt Rallo aat the SBT says Sustaining success a big challenge for Notre Dame

After Notre Dame captured the NCAAwomen’s basketball national title in 2001, the Irish reached the Sweet 16 four times in nine seasons, and did not reach the Elite Eight in that stretch.

That changed in 2011, when the Irish stormed to the national championship game. In 2012, the Irish returned to the title game.

This season, the Irish are a No. 1 seed, have beaten Connecticut seven of the last eight meetings, have beaten Tennessee three times in a row and swept the Big East regular season and tournament titles.

The difference is obvious — and simple.

The Fighting Irish will face up start Kansas who, says Curt, owe a lot to their defense.

According to Henrickson, Engelman, Davis and Goodrich have fueled a surge by the Jayhawks’ program. Prior to last season’s NCAA Tournament appearance, the Jayhawks had not earned an NCAA berth since 2000.

“All three of those kids have given a lot to the program,” Henrickson said. “They’ve changed the face of the program. They will leave the program in a lot better hands then when they got here, which is why they came here.

Taking down Texas A&M, at home, was a pretty impressive accomplishment for the Cornhuskers. Gotta love coach Blair’s graciousness in defeat:

“Sorry we were a little short tonight on how we played the game,” Blair said. “I know we could do better, but I don’t know if Nebraska could play any better than they did. They were magnificent.”

Not only are Native Nebraskans all over NCAA Division I hoops, the Huskers’ win was enough for an Iowan to commit sacrilege: Like Nebraska? Even an Iowan can come around

I’m a Hawkeye.

And Hawkeyes don’t like Cornhuskers. And Iowans don’t like Nebraskans, in a moderate Midwest sort of way. It’s not like we would attack Cornhuskers, but we might be prompted to say, “Hawkeyes rule, Cornhuskers drool!” in a confrontation outside the football stadium.

If Nebraska defeats Duke, coach Yori will get a nice bonus.

New Jersey is proud that Peddie School grad Peters has led Duke women into the Sweet 16

Growing up with two older brothers, chances are you’re going to get pushed around a bit. Especially in sports.

While Haley Peters’ basketball skills have improved every year since her days at The Peddie School, what hasn’t changed is her will to win.

Yes, the Duke women are eyeing 1st Final Four since 2006. Sam Mckewon says Duke is expecting a stress test from Nebraska’s offense

Defense is what has her concerned as Duke prepares to play Nebraska, which scored 73 and 74 points in its first two NCAA tourney games. NU has a “terrific” and “durable” point guard in Lindsey Moore, McCallie said, and forwards Jordan Hooper and Emily Cady “can pop 3s quicker than you can say ‘boo.’”

The Huskers’ ability to spread the floor, draw defenders out of the paint and get layups at the basket is the “big challenge” to defend, McCallie said.

“They run a great motion offense,” said McCallie, who’s led her team to three straight Elite Eight berths. “They screen well and they’ll go back door on you.”

Did you catch the espnW blogs?

Michelle Smith writes Five observations (and one tweet) from Tuesday

The field has been pared to 16 teams, and we are a lot wiser than we were when the brackets came out. Here’s what we know now.

• 1. Brittney Griner recognizes a big moment when she sees it: Was it because former President George W. Bush and his wife were in the house? Or was she trying to give the home crowd at the Ferrell Center something to remember? Let’s go with the latter and say Griner’s three dunks in Baylor’s otherwise typically dominant win over Florida State was just the 6-foot-8 superstar making herself a little memory.

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and return to the big freeze, some things to distract you:

From Graham: All hail the Big Ten (finally!)

Best team not enough people are paying attention to (unless, of course, you’re a loyal WHB reader!): St. Bonaventure. More on the Bonnies in the days to come, but a 64-52 win against St. Louis moved them to 3-0 in the Atlantic 10 for the first time in program history, and 16-2 overall. With wins against Marist, Duquesne, St. John’s, Temple and West Virginia, and losses against only Delaware and Villanova (the latter without second-leading scorer Megan Van Tatenhove, because of injury), St. Bonaventure has earned more support in the polls than it’s getting at the moment. Seven days ago, before a midweek win at Temple and the weekend win against St. Louis, it received just one vote in the AP poll and none in the coaches’ poll — in which St. John’s and West Virginia each received votes.

From Mechelle: Kentucky on top of the SEC: After toppling No. 7 Tennessee earlier in week, Wildcats add win over South Carolina

“Once you get into the league, sometimes you aren’t able to impose your will at the same level that you could maybe in the nonconference schedule,” Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. “What I’ve been encouraged about so far this season is that we’ve won a won a couple of up-tempo, high-scoring, and we won a pretty grind-it-out game that was very physical and tough in [Florida]. To be really good in the Southeastern Conference, you have to be able to what’s happening that night.”

The No. 8 Wildcats did that twice in the past week, and it has put them in the driver’s seat of the SEC.

Pod Alert! As soon as espnW updates their site, Beth and Debbie are back. Today they’re speaking with Pam Ward and Duke’s Elizabeth Williams/Haley Peters. They’ll also preview Uconn/UNC.

Speaking of tonight’s UNC/UConn game, this will help you get caught up:

UConn needs maturity during grueling stretch, Post
UConn women’s game day, Post
Hoping for more from Tiffany Hayes, Courant
No. 22 UNC vs No. 3 UConn, Courant
Hayes leads way, JI
UNC presenting new set of challenges for Huskies, Register
Preview: UConn vs North Carolina, Republican
Injuries take toll on UNC women, News & Observer

An update on Jacki: Gemelos injury is team rallying point, star guard inspires her team even after injury

A little on Bonnie: Henrickson is making her mark with the Jayhawks

A little on the Green Bay team that’s winning: UWGB balances winning big, respect

A little on the bigs in the middle: Irish making strides with inside game

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with the kids: Lehning Helps Atlanta Dream To Playoff Bid

Former Kansas State All-Americans, Shalee Lehning and Nicole Ohlde, concluded action in the 2010 WNBA regular season over the weekend. Lehning helped the Atlanta Dream to their second straight WNBA Playoff appearance, while Ohlde endured a mid-season trade to the Tulsa Shock.

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