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From Vicki (yup, THAT Vicki) and Paul: Mid-Majors conferences look to bite into BCS NCAA bids

For the fans of the teams in the mid-major leagues, conference tournament time is among the most exciting of the season. Supporters of Power-6 conference teams pay attention too, but for entirely different reasons.

Most mid-major conferences will draw only the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament no matter which team wins the title. But in a handful of conferences, a loss by the favorite could result in that league receiving two bids, meaning one less at-large possibility for a BCS conference program.

Speaking of teams on the bubble: A Look At The Teams In The Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament

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Scores.

Next!

First we have a “Big 6 v mid-major” story: Syracuse at JMU at 7 p.m. ET

Then we’ve got a “feel good story” v a “nobody’s noticed story“: San Diego at Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. ET

In a related story, congrats to NJCAA Champs Trinity Valley College, who won a battle between two undefeated teams.

How is it related? From the Hutchinson (KS) News: Court ceremony hits home for Trinity

The emotions were high for the Trinity Valley, Texas, women Saturday evening, especially for sophomore Keuna Flax and co-coach Kenya Landers.

Minutes before Trinity Valley embarked on its 69-55 win against Hutchinson Community College in the NJCAA national championship game at the Bicentennial Center, the basketball court was dedicated for Kurt Budke, a former Trinity Valley and Oklahoma State coach who was killed in a November plane crash.

More from the Salina Journal: Winning Tribute: Trinity Valley comes through on night Kurt Budke Court in named

Trinity Valley co-head coach Kenya Landers descended from the ladder and handed the scissors to Shelley Budke.

Budke climbed the ladder, snipped the last strand of net that had hung from the basketball goal at the west end of the Bicentennial Center, climbed down, placed the net around Landers and embraced her in a lengthy and emotional hug as they stood on the newly renamed Kurt Budke Court, dedicated to the memory of Shelley’s late husband.

Mission accomplished for Landers and her Trinity Valley women’s basketball team.

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On Vandy’s kids: Sophomore guards lead Vanderbilt – Christina Foggie, Jasmine Lister help injury-depleted Commodores to 12-1 start

Vanderbilt’s only loss came Dec. 18 to NC State in Raleigh, N.C. While full credit goes to the Wolfpack for that 66-59 win, there were some extenuating circumstances for the Commodores. The day before in practice, they lost promising freshman guard Maggie Morrison to an ACL injury.

That combined with the lingering effects of a concussion that has sidelined junior guard Gabby Smith — she was hurt before the season began and played in just one game before symptoms returned — left Vanderbilt with just nine in uniform. If Foggie has to miss some time, an eight-is-enough strategy will have to do for the Commodores.

From her Chat:

bb1985 (ny) Although there are many positive reasons for the top-tier teams to play much lesser teams, such as helping seed WCBB interest in new locales, or to help out a former player/ assistant now coaching at lesser program, or a historical relationship/ intra-state situation — how much is too much “cupcakes” on a top-tier schedule? It seems that the average of 12-15 cupcakes a year is typical for all the top programs. Yes, there are Conference considerations on the schedules. But should the cupcakes be pared back by 33% or cut back by 50%? Too many 40-50-60 point wins do not seem to bolster WCBB…

Mechelle Voepel: I’m thinking about this question in particular knowing that Baylor is playing Mississippi Valley State on Friday, a game that should NEVER take place. I agree with your latter point in particular, that some of these scores are just gross and make women’s basketball look bad. Which is not to say there are not blowouts in men’s hoops; I’m not comparing the two. But scores in the 20s make me gag. As I mentioned in the last chat, I don’t know what good teams get out of playing opponents that they know, year in and year out, are total doormats.

I, too, understand the reasons for scheduling cupcakes — particularly the economic ones, and recognize that there are negative consequences, too. I think you  also have to take in to account the logistical challenges of scheduling. From Sherri Coale:

You can ask a coach and [they] would not like to be on the road three times in a row. And a coach would like to have at least two games televised on their home court on Saturdays, etc. etc. You come up with 15 criteria [and] at the end of those criteria you can’t build a schedule. It is physically and humanly impossible to satisfy all of those criteria and come up with a schedule.

But, I’ve heard over and over coaches saying, “some teams won’t play us.” This in not just top-10 teams (“they don’t want the loss) but mid-majors (“they don’t want to risk the loss”). Here’s my solution: If one program won’t play the other, let the public know why. Name names.

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Graham has his mid-major poll (‘ware the owls. Especially if they’re long-eared). Hello, ‘spoon!

Chris Hansen has news of a top recruit going to UConn. HoopGurlz lasho has the Powerade Fab 50 rankings – Week 9.

Charlie chatted about brackets and such.

Mechelle tweets that Tangela Smith is going to the Fever.

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From Graham on Heather Golden, who’s been forced to finish her career on the bench because of injury: The best 3 minutes of Green Bay’s season

If it wasn’t the kind of effort the coaching staff wanted to see out of its nationally ranked team in January, it certainly wasn’t the vantage point Golden wanted to have for her final season.

But when it would be easy to be bitter about so many lost minutes, Golden instead cherishes the three she found earlier this season — minutes that proved no less meaningful as a farewell than as the beginning of a comeback. And as her hair-tussling on an otherwise forgettable night seemed to suggest, there are worse places to be, even in the most frustrating of moments, than around Dr. James Naismith’s creation.

Also from Graham, his mid-major poll: Top two teams remain the same, which you can compare with the CollegeInsider Mid-Major Top 25 ranking.

Lady Swish says:

We bow our heads to Hampton, shake our heads about Norfolk State and offer this heads up about Radford: These guys are pretty good!

From the NCAA blog, John Infante asks: What Would Paying Student-Athletes Look Like?

Holy three-ball! FGCU took 55… yes FIFTY FIVE of them. Oh, yah. They also won.

Word has it that over 8000 tickets sold for Sunday’s Civil War and women’s MKA opener.

Q has: How Washington’s Defense Frustrated A ‘Lackadaisical & Unfocused’ Cal Team

Mark your calendar for the post-season WNIT.

There’s a job opening at Stonybrook.

Charlie’s got his latest Bracketology and says an Emphasis on road wins is the key

In a season in which winning away from home has proved to be especially difficult — Stanford lost by 22 at DePaul and then the Blue Demons, just five days later, lost by 13 at Arizona State, a team that the Cardinal would then beat by 47 at home — scoring some occasional success on the road will prove to be a difference maker in seeding or even inclusion in the NCAA tournament. This isn’t groundbreaking news, for sure. The tournament committee has used road/neutral records as one of its chief criterion for years. And why not? There is no better measuring stick for a team’s abilities come March because, at least after the first two rounds, that’s exactly what the tournament is. And for most, the opening rounds are, at best, neutral site games.

The AP says, Meighan Simmons key for Lady Vols

Tennessee point guard Meighan Simmons likes to play fast. Even coach Pat Summitt, who loves to push tempo, has had to warn “Speedy” to slow down.

“There will be times where I can’t even slow myself down,” Simmons said. “There will be times, I admit, where I do jack up shots. I’m rushing into it because I just want to get a feel of the ball and where the basket is. I know after a while, once I get into the flow of the game, I just let the game come to me.”

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With Graham today. Ooops! Check out the transcript:

Howard (PA): You’ve always been good at highlighting players from Mid-Majors that often don’t make the radar screens of the media. Who do you like this season in that category?
Graham Hays: Pavlov’s dogs have nothing on me when you mention mid-majors. Thanks for putting it on a tee, Howard. Courtney Vandersloot tops the list for me, but she’s probably firmly on the radar at this point (as is Amber Harris, depending on your definition of Xavier as a mid-major). Lesser known names I would happily pay to watch include Missouri State’s Casey Garrison, Wisconsin Green Bay’s trio of Kayla Tetschlag, Celeste Hoewisch and Julie Wojta, Toledo point guard Naama Shafir, Bowling Green’s Lauren Prochaska, Marist’s Erica Allenspach and Corielle Yarde. Wyoming’s Aubrey Vandiver. I could go on all afternoon.

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A different kind of Top 25

Don’t get us wrong, we love that CollegeInsider.com is introducing a women’s basketball Top-25 mid-major poll, and it’s nice to see two of this state’s coaches, Liberty’s Carey Green and Longwood’s Kristin Caruso, as part of the 31-member voting panel.

But can we lose the term “mid-major”? Enough of this splitting the Division I baby. A D-I school is a D-I school, period. And schools that aren’t in the Big Six conference fraternity should stop allowing themselves to be defined as something less. You know, there are many, many more schools outside of the BCS conferences than there are within them. They just don’t make nearly as much noise. Perhaps instead of mid-majors, they should call themselves the “Silent Majority”….

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