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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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polls:

NCAA Division III: Cool to see Montclair State up in the top five.

NCAA Division II: Bentley and Barb Stevens = consistency.

NCAA Division I (Coaches): Not a lot of surprises, except maybe with that one vote….

As we wait:

From LSU: United States Marines help train team

From Wisconsin: New-look UWGB in same old No. 1 spot

It is the sixth straight season the Phoenix has been picked preseason favorite.

“I guess I didn’t expect that,” UWGB coach Kevin Borseth said. “We lost five seniors off the squad and four starters. … I don’t know.

From North Dakota: NDSU Women’s Basketball Preview

From Oklahoma: Guards Morgan Hook, Maddie Manning injured at intrasquad scrimmage

From Pennsylvania: Penn State women’s basketball: New faces shine in Lady Lions’ exhibition romp

From North Carolina: Duke women’s basketball opens season with Blue/White Scrimmage

From Full Court:

The sport is not going away any time soon, though at the same time it’s clear there are some fundamental issues that need to be thoughtfully considered. The powers that be in women’s basketball have taken the first step by recognizing that there are some problems, and commissioning the Ackerman Report. And last week the NCAA women’s basketball committee also approved taking some steps to solve them, though their compromises on the recommendations of the White Papers Summit are a bit of a mixed bag. Having top seeds host the first two rounds of the tournament, for example, is a virtual no-brainer that can only help improve attendance in the early rounds, while at the same time rewarding the best, rather than the richest, programs.

Get out your calendar and mark these downs: Women’s College Basketball On ESPN

Speaking of calendars: Women’s basketball committee suggests changes for tourney, moving Final Four to Friday-Sunday

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From Blue Devil land: Williams’ frustrating foot injury lingers for Duke women’s basketball

After being decimated by injuries late last season, this year was supposed to be different for Duke. But with the season just beginning, the Blue Devils already face a daunting obstacle as preseason All-American Elizabeth Williams has not yet recovered from a stress fracture suffered last March.

Dabnabbit! UTEP women’s basketball guard Jenzel Nash out for the year due to injury

From Bear land: Women’s basketball season begins with simple question: Can anyone stop Griner and Baylor?

Graham offers a possible answer: Breanna Stewart preps for debut – All eyes on the freshman expected to be the next great thing in Huskies history

Detroit has its auto show. Women’s basketball has media day at the University of Connecticut.

Come, crowd around to see the latest innovation, the new design that will set a standard and capture the public imagination in years to come.

Same time, same place every year.

But even at a school for which the annual unveiling of the next highly anticipated star seems as much a part of the autumn calendar as hot cider and pumpkin carving, this year feels different. Breanna Stewart has yet to play a game for Connecticut. She has yet to score her first point, grab her first rebound, block her first shot or draw her first regular-season rebuke from Geno Auriemma. And still people in Storrs sound a little like they’re talking about the flying car of tomorrow come to life when discussing the unassuming 6-foot-4 forward from upstate New York and consensus next great thing in women’s basketball.

Baylor’s women’s basketball team offered spectators plenty during a perfect season in 2011-12. There was the consensus national player of the year in center Brittney Griner. An exceptionally quick point guard, Odyssey Sims, with both great scoring potential and a natural zest for defense.

Destiny Williams, an eloquent team spokeswoman who also works the boards ferociously. The shouldn’t-be-overlooked tandem of Jordan Madden and Kimetria “Nae-Nae” Hayden, who hurt foes on both ends of the court.

And the maestro of it all was coach Kim Mulkey, who set the tone for a group of players who never seemed the least bit rattled by not just the hope, but the expectation that they would win it all. Even a flare-up of Bell’s palsy during the NCAA tournament didn’t seem to rattle Mulkey in the least. She downplayed it, even cracking jokes at her own expense.

Michelle gives us the A-to-Z rundown of what to expect
A: Arizona State. Coach Charli Turner Thorne took a year off to recharge and spend time with her family, a rare opportunity in the coaching universe. But she’s back on the floor with the Sun Devils and it’s time to rebuild a program that fell to the middle of the Pac-12 in her absence.
Z: Zero. Is Baylor ready for another zero-loss season? It could happen.
Charlie give us a Big 10 preview, and busy Mechelle gives us her Big 12 preview.

For decades it seemed as though Michigan regarded women’s basketball as a part of the athletic department it didn’t want anyone to see.

It was as if U-M fielded a team because it had to, not because it wanted to, and it was reflected in thousands of empty seats in Crisler Arena. A perennial nonfactor when it came to contending for Big Ten championships and NCAA tournament bids, the program suffered its biggest embarrassment last spring when coach Kevin Borseth resigned to return to Green Bay, the program he left to take the U-M job.

From their in-state rival: Michigan State women’s basketball putting puzzle together

From Terp land: Maryland women’s basketball: It’s Final Four or bust for the Terrapins (no pressure) and 2012 ACC women’s basketball preview: Can Alyssa Thomas carry the Maryland Terrapins to the top again?

Also, “YAY! The BasketCases are back!” : Early Late Returns

From the land of the Bluejays: 2012-13 Creighton Women’s Basketball Profiles: Sarah Nelson

From Bluegrass land: Kentuckiana women’s basketball at a glance and Western Kentucky women’s basketball | Young Toppers hope speed offsets height

More from the land of Bluegrass: (no pressure) SEC coaches pick UK women’s basketball as favorites to win 2012-13 conference title

From the Land o’ Bisons: (a really short)  Howard women’s basketball preview

From the Land o’ (Washington) Huskies: Washington women’s basketball: Five things to watch

From more of the West Coast folks: OSU women’s basketball: Beavers excited to play a better schedule

There are still some games that could be considered cupcakes, but the Beavers will get to face two NCAA tournament teams, with the possibility of another, and two teams that made the Women’s National Invitation Tournament before opening the Pac-12 season

“I think we’re in a position where we need that,” Rueck said. “This year we open Pac-12 play with the L.A. schools coming in. We need to know who we are and where we need to go before that weekend happens.”

From the land of the Commodores: Holzer out for season Center suffered injury in exhibition game versus Alabama-Huntsville.

From the Land o’ Swish Appeal, Nate says: Tennessee Lady Vols built to run after losing stars to the WNBA draft

Speaking of the W, thewiz09 asks: Does Regionalization and “Our Girls Syndrome” Adversely Affect The WNBA?

…to take a page out of the words of a former Washington Mystics head coach, the WNBA is a league that is building its identity, so teams often look for quick ways to get more fans to sit in. The largest overlapping fanbasewith women’s professional basketball is Division I women’s college basketball power program fanbases. A very quick way to attract fans from the local college power team is to draft or acquire players from that team. That leads to the regionalizationof a team.

One reason why a team may regionalize is also because there is a fear that fans of the WNBA team may not even want to watch the team at all unless some players are from the local college power or are from the area. This leads to a term called “Our Girls Syndrome (OGS).” This term, to the best of my knowledge, was introduced by Clay Kallam of Full Court. Kallam laid it out and showed applications of it really well in a piece for Scout.com back in 2003 (and it was updated in 2005). The concepts he lays out in that piece will be reapplied to today’s league.

From the Land of the Bun: Corey Gaines keeps his nose to Phoenix Suns’ grindstone

From the Times-Picayune: Temeka Johnson blogs: Russian team builds toward EuroCup game Thursday

WANT? Vicky Bullett? Winning: Women’s Basketball: HCC opens season with a Bullett

Speaking of the Washington Mystics, delve deep down in to Mel’s post to find out some stuff about the hot mess they’re in and the Rebkellians have some coaching suggestions.

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Borseth Resigns to Accept Wisconsin-Green Bay Coaching Position

All sorts of interesting messages sent by this news.

Also, Boston College has a new coach, and rumors are that George Washington will get a coach with Notre Dame roots. Does this mean that St. John’s Duffy or VCU’s Cunningham go mid-west?

Hold off on checking the WBCA for coaching updates, they’re recovering from the Final Four and conventioning.

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From Graham: Borseth’s major progress at Michigan

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

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