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Patriot: Army did what it had to against American, and, Inspired by Maggie’s spirit, Knights refused to lose

Sometimes things just happen the way they are supposed to in sports. There is not always an easy explanation for why, or how, but rather some other phenomenon — happenstance, fate, whatever.

So it was early in the week that Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons texted his Army counterpart Dave Magarity. The words floated off Gibbons’ phone, like a butterfly. “Maggie will be smiling if we both get to West Point,” it said.

Holy Cross then did what it had to do to join Army, keeping their program record of  conference tourneys by stopping (and stomping) Navy. Pretty impressive of the Crusaders and coach Gibson, considering the upheaval that launched their season.

Summit: Nothing like an in-state rivalry to stir things up. The Jackrabbits got stunned by South Dakota ( first tournament loss after 15 consecutive victories.). The Coyotes then built on their success by defeating Denver (who’d ended IUPUI’s season of resurgence — in OT, of course.), earning their first NCAA bid.

America East: Albany’s Great Danes made quick work of the Sea Wolves – getting revenge for that blemish on their conference record, and earning a trip to the Dance.

MAAC: The first half, Quinnipiac had the Red Foxes on the ropes. Second half, Marist recovered to win their 9th straight conference tourney championship:

“The thing is that they persevered,” Marist coach Brian Giorgis said. “We broke the game down into where we wanted to be. We didn’t panic. We took it at them and made big shots down the stretch, made great decisions down the stretch.”

WCC: Saint Mary’s fought in the semis, but there was no doubt as Gonzaga roared over BYU to another WCC title – their sixth in seven years.

During that 20-minute shooting slump, the Cougars were unable to get the ball inside to Hamson, the WCC Player of the Year.

“We couldn’t get the ball to her because of (Gonzaga’s) pressure,” Judkins said. “Jen had a great tournament. I wish we could have gotten her the ball more. I think we would have been a lot better off. … We kind of got on our heels and we didn’t attack like we should have.”

It’s streaky!! Sims got a little banged up, and the Mountaineers got a little stubborn, but Baylor managed to snag their fourth consecutive Big 12 title.

Next! Chattanooga wiped out Davidson to earn the Southern crown. Said coach Foster: “We’re a good team,” Foster said. “It’s about time we start showing folks just how good.”

Huge win for the Penn State Quakers. They handily defeated the Princeton Tigers to earn a seat in the NCAA tournament. The Ivy League is the only conference in the country that doesn’t have a postseason tournament to decide its champion.

“I’m not a fan of an Ivy tournament. The reason is we need to send our best teams,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said. “Imagine if Penn had lost to Dartmouth and we had lost to Brown and we’re not sending our best team. I feel confident Penn has earned it. They beat us on our home floor later in the season.”

Oh, and UConn won the inaugural American Conference title.

So, what about those pesky seedings?

From John Altavilla: Favorites Falling Adds Some Mystery To Seeding

However, ESPN‘s bracketologist, Charlie Creme, has been sticking by his guns, continuing to place UConn as the No. 1 to Louisville’s No. 2 in Kentucky.

For that to happen, however, the committee would essentially need to rank the Cardinals last among the No. 2 seeds, setting up a 1-8 scenario with UConn.

“How do I answer that question [about seeding] without being reprimanded,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “I’d lose my shirt, my per diem, everything.”

From Kevin Duffy: Fair or not, UConn may have to play regional at Louisville

The UConn women gashed their seventh top 10 opponent Monday night at The Sun, and in a week they very well could be named the No. 1 seed in the Louisville regional. As in, at the Yum! Center. As in, the reward for the group that just completed perhaps the best regular season ever could be a straight-up away game versus second-seeded Louisville in a hostile environment in the Elite Eight.

Tell me how that’s fair.

From Charlie: Louisville isn’t for UConn after all – Lincoln Regional makes much more sense for top-seeded Huskies

Connecticut has been an obvious No. 1 seed for some time. So the biggest question concerning the Huskies has been at which regional they will play their games.

Louisville or Lincoln? In the same region with rival Louisville, or farther away in Nebraska? Louisville has been my answer all season.

Until now.

What has prompted me to change my mind?

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#2 Notre Dame is rollin’, rollin’, rollin‘ the ACC. regular and, most likely, post-season. And yes, it was nice for UNC to defeat Duke, but let’s remember who the Blue Devils had riding the bench. That being said, congrats to Coach Hatchell, presented the 2014 Kay Yow Champion Award (h/t Sheila).

#7 West Virginia is upsettin’, upsettin’, upsettin’ the Big 12 (as most of the teams are free-falling). From Nate:

Just a week ago, SB Nation’s West Virginia site The Smoking Musket had a post updescribing why the Mountaineers women’s basketball team wasn’t getting the respect they deserve in the national polls.

Well, the team handled business on the court on Sunday to fix that.

With a win over Baylor in Waco on Sunday, they’re now ranked #7/8 in the polls and right on pace for a #2 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament (barring something crazy like Duke winning theACC tournament happening). And the narrative of what makes this team a potential sleeper in the hunt for a final four spot has taken hold: veteran experience (sorry, Albert).

#1 UConn is stompin’, stompin’, stompin’ the AAC, with #3 Louisville hoverin’, hoverin‘ hoverin’ right behind. And, as always, “Thanks, Graham.” Cardinals, community embrace Shoni – Fans come from all corners for senior night, Native American Appreciation Night

Schimmel finished with nine points, again unable to crack the code against one of the only teams left to beat. Four times she tried in the past 14 months. Four times the shots didn’t fall.

What was remarkable was that 22,163 people cleared off their cars or waited out airlines after yet another blast of winter overnight in the Louisville area and then trudged over uncleared downtown sidewalks because they believe in her.

Native American fans. Louisville fans. Basketball fans.

Anyone who appreciates a good story, really.

“I know a lot of people were traveling, and a lot of people were coming here,” Schimmel said. “And so, you know, it’s great for them to travel across the country to watch a game that’s on TV. It’s very special to me because they are Native American, and they’re coming out to just watch us. For them to do that, it’s pretty cool.”

Boink! Stony Brook shocked the heck outta the Danes, 66-56. The Seawolves earned the second seed in the conference tourney, because UNH lost to Maine (I warned ya about ’em).

The Flyers are atop the A-10, but the conference tourney championship is no guarantee.

Wow, what a traffic jam in the Big 10!! But the story of the week was (thanks, Swish Appeal) Purdue’s senior day win over Nebraska includes surprise return of KK Houser.

Most assumed KK Houser had played her last game on Keady Court after she tore her ACL in East Lansing against Michigan State a month ago. Fortunately for KK she would play for the fans in Mackey one more time. KK came out and went through warm-ups and started the game Sunday alongside April Wilson, Liza Clemons and fellow seniors Dee Dee Williams and Courtney Moses. KK played the first 2:34. While KK was a bit of a defensive liability Purdue had a 2-0 lead when she checked out…KK Houser entered the game briefly at end before returning to the bench amid a standing ovation. In those last minutes she was able to pull down two rebounds.

JMU recovered from its “WTH?” loss to the College of Charleston, and it’s hard to imagine they’ll get much of a threat from the rest of the CAA folks.

Phoenix and Penguins and Raiders, “Oh, my!” That’s the Horizon.

Ah, the “don’t pigeon hole me” Ivy. It’s the Quakers, Tigers and Crimson. (Coach Delaney-Smith has tied the record for most wins by Ivy League coach.) From Mel:

The victory for Penn (19-6, 9-2 Ivy League) put this edition of the Quakers to second all-time in program history behind the 22 in 2000-01 that belonged to the first of two contingents that became Ivy champs.

Coach Mike McLaughlin’s bunch have stayed the course while losing critical parts of the roster, the most recent this past week when Katy Allen was lost the rest of the way after suffering a foot injury.

But Kathleen Roche, a 5-11 junior guard, stepped up big time, knocking down six three-pointers, one short of a Penn record, on the way to 20 points.

“It’s incredible how people step up and Keen works extra hard, she’s in the gym before all of us and it really showed tonight,” Baron said. “Even with Katy out, it really hurts us, but it just shows that other people like (freshman) Stephanie Cheyney (seven points off the bench) or others are willing to step up.”

Penn goes up against Princeton March 11th. Will a NCAA bid be on the line?

This is why I’m glad I’m not on the Selection Committee: Marist gets its revenge on Iona, and the MAAC is now all tied up. Let’s say they meet a third time, this time in the conference championship. What do you do with the loser? Oh, and from Kevin Armstrong at the NY Daily News: Hoosiers on the Hudson: How Brian Giorgis transformed little Marist into monster mid-major women’s basketball program.

Giorgis laughed; glasses clinked. A teetotaler known to down Diet Cokes as early as 5 a.m., Giorgis looked at the crowd. He outlined the demands of maintaining a top midmajor program, accruing a .778 winning percentage over the last 11 winters, winning 10 consecutive conference titles, collecting five NCAA Tournament victories and outdrawing 7 of 10 men’s teams in the MAAC. He spared the supporters the specifics of his side obsession, declining to mention the memorabilia shrine dedicated to Derek Jeter in his bedroom or the emails from eBay that ping on his phone when he gets outbid by a competitor. Balance, to Giorgis, is keeping a photo of himself holding a T-206 Honus Wagner card on the same office shelf with a glass slipper that a fan gifted him to celebrate a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 in 2007. He daydreams about claiming another.

“It’s been a nice fairy tale,” he said. 

The Mid-American is equally vexing, with Central Michigan and Bowling Green looking like the cream of the crop. The Chippewas overall record likely excludes them from the NCAAs, but what do you do with the Falcons if CMU wins? Oh, did you catch this at SlamOnline? Chip Shot – Crystal Bradford is creating a legacy at Central Michigan.

Crystal Bradford’s mother had a vision that her daughter would go to Central Michigan, a program that before last season hadn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 1984.

“My mom really wanted me to go here,” the Detroit native recalls. “I really didn’t want to. But she kept saying, ‘I had a vision,’ and ‘God’s got a plan for you.’” A bit dubious, but ready to create a legacy, CB turned down the likes of Louisville and Michigan State and traveled northwest to put Mt. Pleasant, MI, on the map.

After leading the Chippewas in points, rebounds, blocks and steals as a soph in 2012-13, she exploded onto the national scene in March when she hung 36 points, 14 rebounds and 7 steals on 2-seeded Oklahoma in the Tourney.

Hampton is top dog in the MEAC, but their final game is against second place North Carolina A&T. Can the Bulldogs sink the Pirates?

I take my eye off Wichita, get swamped by work, and what happens? They lose three straight. Suddenly the Missouri Valley crown is up for grabs, and the Sycamores are interested.

Hello? Colorado State rules the Mountain West? They got their revenge (at home) v. Fresno State. Can they end the season (at home) and get even with Wyoming? From the Mountain West Connection: 

A team that was picked to finish seventh in the preseason polls had completed a stunning one-year turnaround filled with record breaking performances en route to their first title in twelve years. The numerous records they set read much better in list form…

  • Most three pointers in a game (19)
  • First triple-double in Colorado State history (Ellen Nystrom)
  • Largest margin of victory since 2001 (60 points vs Air Force)
  • Second fewest points allowed (28 vs. Air Force)
  • First victory at The Pit in 16 years
  • First season with two 100-point games since 2001
  • Most Mountain West victories ever (14 and counting)
  • Third most free throws made (34)
  • Three players with double-doubles in one game in 35 years
  • Second-most assists in CSU history (14, Gritt Ryder)
  • Fourth longest home winning streak (12 and counting)

… I think you get the point. All of these accolades are even more astounding when you think of where this team was just a year ago. After a disappointing tenure under Coach Kristen Holt, Ryun Williams and an all-star cast of former head coaches were brought in to restore the Rams to their former glory days.

Doesn’t look like UT Martin will get much of a challenge in Ohio Valley (throwing salt over her shoulder).

Yah, Stanford is still the boss of the Pac-12, but anyone else detecting some fault lines in their throne? (Oh, and anyone want a job? Oregon won’t renew contract of coach Paul Westhead)

Sure, Navy took the conference title (first outright Patriot League regular season title in school history), but Army and American have taken their measure ain’t they ain’t afraid. Bring on the conference tournament!

The Mocs are unblemished in the Southern. The danger is looking ahead to the NCAA brackets. Take care of business, and then see what the Foster-led team can do against non-conference folks.

Honestly, the Southland is a bit of a hot mess. That last game between Central Arkansas v. Stephen F. Austin could set the tone for their conference tourney.

Speaking of hot messes — look no further than the Blue Raider-less Sun Belt.

It’s Gonzaga (10th straight conference title) or whoever can put together a great game in the WCC.

It looks like the WAC will give the NCAA tourney a Road Runner, a Vandal (first regular season title!) or an Antelope. It’s like choosing your favorite child!

ESPN gets into the swing of Conference Tourney Time:

SLIDESHOW: CONFERENCE FROSH OF THE YEAR

SLIDESHOW: LEAGUE COACHES OF THE YEAR

Full Court starts with their Bubble Wrap 2014: Who’s headed to the Big Dance? (Week 1)

They also offer up a 2014 SEC Tournament preview: More competitive than ever

The days of at least a semi-predictable SEC Tournament are long gone, and perhaps no more so than this season. This year, the conference was so competitive — not only at the very top, but all the way from top to bottom — that when the regular season finally wrapped up on Sunday, conference administrators were likely whipping out their sliderules to compute all the tie breakers.

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and again, I don’t blame the pollsters, I simply think it underscores how much talent is spread across multiple teams. As someone who is not on the inside, I wonder if it’s a year when certain coaches are being exposed  – both in a good and bad way.

It the last few days #21 Nebraska went down to Northwestern (a team that seems to always be a threat, but hasn’t gotten over the hump to be a consistent power).

#12 Baylor (not Sims)  took down #8 Oklahoma State (was highest ranking ever for the Cowgirls) in OT, of course, 69-66.

#18 North Carolina State over #8 Maryland, 72-63, the Terps third straight loss.

Georgia (!) over #13 Kentucky (who was missing Bernisha Pinkett), 58-56, which has Mitchell “fighting the worry bug.

After being down by 18, it was Syracuse over #6 North Carolina, 78-73.

Missouri (‘s bench) over #16 Vanderbilt, 59-54.

And yes I noticed the escapees:

#2 Notre Dame-Lloyd over #8 Maryland, 87-83.

#10 South Carolina over #16 Vanderbilt, 61-57 (live-by-the-three-die-by-the-three).

#14 Arizona State over Colorado, 68-66.

#11 Oklahoma State over TCU, 49-48.

#12 Penn State over #19 Purdue, 75-72.

#10 Tennessee over Arkansas, 70-60.

#3 Duke over Miami, 76-75.

#4 Stanford over a very stubborn #21 Cal, 70-64. (And watch out, ’cause yes, Harberts has USC surpassing expectations)

#15 Arizona State over Oregon State, 64-62.

#5 Louisville (where life is Schimmel-iscious) over (ambitions) Rutgers, 80-71.

In other games of interest:

Iona over the MAAC.

JMU over the CAA.

Hampton over the MEAC.

Wichita State over the MVC.

UT Martin over the OVC.

With at least seven weeks left in her college basketball career, Heather Butler is working to get the UT Martin women’s basketball team back into the NCAA tournament.

Meanwhile, the senior guard from Medina broke an individual record Saturday that had stood since before she was born.

Butler is now the all-time leading scorer in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Albany over the America East because 1) Shereesha Richards: Albany soph shoots lights out of America East and

The University at Albany women’s basketball coaching staff has tried to get senior Tammy Phillip to shoot the ball, but it’s a hard sell for the 5-foot-11 guard who spent a lot of her time growing up in the British Virgin Islands as a track athlete specializing in, among other things, the long jump and high jump.

Today, she uses perfectly timed leaps to come away with an eye-popping number of rebounds. And that’s on a team that includes 6-foot-9 center Megan Craig and forward Shereesha Richards, who leads the America East in rebounds this season.

Navy over the Patriot and…cool! Dowling becomes first Navy women’s basketball player to have jersey retired

Becky Dowling Calder made history by becoming the first female pilot to graduate from the United States Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, an elite program commonly known as Top Gun. The 1998 Naval Academy graduate went on to fly F/A-18 Hornet jets with distinction.

***
“I’m extremely humbled to be the first player in program history to have my jersey retired. I’m proud, but what makes me most happy is knowing that I won’t be the last,” she said. “There are so many women who are just as deserving and it makes me feel good that what happened today will lead to others receiving the same honor.”

The Penguins over the Horizon.

Central Arkansas over the Southland.

FGCU over the A-Sun.

Central Michigan over the MAC.

South Dakota State over the Summit.

New Hampshire is now 5-1 in the America East.

Arizona is now 0-9 in the Pac-12. This seat is hot! hot! hot!

George Mason is 0-8 in the A10.

Nice win for St. Louis over St. Joseph’s, 69-65.

Important win for St. Mary’s over BYU in the very entertaining WCC. With San Diego losing to Pacific, it does seem that #22 Gonzaga is the conference’s top dog.

Huge win for High Point‘ over Liberty – and it was in DOUBLE OT.

It wasn’t a matter of if High Point University women’s coach DeUnna Hendrix thought a trio of freshmen would mesh together and become a key piece of the puzzle for the Panthers this season.

As far as the when, she didn’t expect it to come quite as early as a unit of guard Kaylah Keys, wing Teddy Vincent and center DeAnneisha Jackson have helped HPU win eight of its past 10 games, improve to 13-8 and climb into first place in the Big South at 9-3 with Thursday’s double-overtime win at perennial power Liberty.

Clemson and Georgia Tech added to our OT list as it was the Tigers over the Yellow Jackets by 1.

In anticipation: Sunday, ESPN2 @ 2pm: #2 Notre Dame at #3 Duke

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…that was the theme for most top seeds. But it was a little more interesting for some than others.

UNC had to fight like heck to defeat the under-appreciated Great Danes of Albany.

Dayton, too, had to fight — through St. John’s and two overtimes.

#6 LSU escaped a stubborn #11 Green Bay, 75-71.

#8 Michigan moved on after a nice battle with #9 Villanova, 60-52.

#9 Iowa took advantage of the home court and sent #8 Miami packing, 69-53.

Florida State took a nice lead over Princeton and maintained it to a 60-44 win.

The #6 Blue Hens gave the #11 Mountaineers a first half head start, and then Delle Donne carried Delaware to victory.

#2 Kentucky and #15 Navy were all but tied at the half, then the Wildcats got in gear to secure the victory.

#1 Stanford and #16 Tulsa were exactly tied at the half. Cardinal woke up, though, in the second half (and still, Tulsa did not fold), and moved on into the next round.

#5 Louisville followed Schimmel’s points and Smith’s assists to victory over #12 Middle Tennessee State, 74-49.

#7 Oklahoma State didn’t have much trouble against #10 DePaul: Cowgirls (and Young) move on, 73-56.

#4 Purdue handled #13 Liberty, 77-43.

The ESPN/AP headline says “Duke pulls away in the second half to beat Hampton,” ’cause the #15 Pirates pulled within 6 in the second half. Yes, the #2 Blue Devils won, but maybe Hampton did deserve a higher seed.

#3 Penn State made Cal Poly’s first trip to the NCAA an unpleasant one: 85-55.

#Baylor dismissed Prairie View A&M, 82-40.

#1 Notre Dame did the same to UT-Martin, 97-64.

Some quick “Up Next” from Mechelle: Just like old times for A&M, Nebraska

 Nebraska coach Connie Yori smiled and noted that she has “some great Gary Blair stories.” Well, who doesn’t, right?

As for Blair, women’s basketball’s Mr. Congeniality, he reminded reporters that he’s old enough to remember when Yori was playing at Creighton. Scrappy devil of a player, she was.

The coaching colleagues will commence pleasantries before Monday’s NCAA second-round game here at Texas A&M. And then, it will be a battle to see who heads to Norfolk, Va., for the Sweet 16.

“It’s like a Big 12 reunion, really,” Yori said after her No. 6 seed Cornhuskers beat Chattanooga 73-59 to set up their meeting with No. 3 seed Texas A&M. “That seems like it’s fitting. Gary Blair, he’s one of the great coaches and great characters in our game. It will be interesting to go head-to-head.”

Speaking of Nebraska: I saw pintails, common mergansers and harris sparrows today. And it is cooooold!

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I’m birding in Nebraska with the mom (saw Redhead, Canvasback and Wigeon today), BUT….

How cool is it that I’m in Omaha, birding in the home of the Creighton Blue Jays — who took down the Orange of Syracuse in the first upset of the day.

Credit Kansas over the Buffs and USF  over Texas Tech were the other two upsets du jour.

Also credit teams who showed up and strutted a tad before they fell:

St. Joe’s v. Vanderbilt.

Central Michigan v. Oklahoma.

Gonzaga v. Iowa State.

Montana v. Georgia.

Fresno St. v. California.

Quinnipiac v. Maryland.

Chattanooga v. Nebraska (it would have been awkward to be in Neb. and have the Huskers lose. Would bring the WHB curse to a whole new level.)

And, maybe it’s just me, but I think that it’s cool that Oral Roberts can stay within 20 of Tennessee, ditto with South Dakota State and South Carolina, more ditto with the Hatters and UCLA. And it was closer than between Marist and Michigan State.

And then, of course, there were the full out blow outs….

UConn v. Idaho.

Aggies v. Shockers.

Some fun stuff to read as you await the next round (and I await my 5:45am wake up call to sound):

Bauer is unsung hero of Navy women’s basketball team

If our Navy women’s basketball team was a band, Kara Pollinger would be our drummer.

Jade Geif would be the lead singer, Alix Membreno lead guitar, ML Morrison on tambourine charming the crowd, and Audrey Bauer would be the talented musician playing any instrument a song needed — saxophone, fiddle, bass.”

That comment, contained in an NCAA Tournament diary entry written this week by head coach Stefanie Pemper, perfectly describes what Audrey Bauer brings to the Navy women’s basketball team.

Yes, after the fact, but…: Faced with Final Four expectations, Cal women’s basketball kicks off NCAA tournament against Fresno State

This ought to feel familiar: Michigan women’s basketball set to take on Villanova in NCAA Tournament first round

Yes, it’s the WBI, and yes, it’s the Quakers, BUT, it IS their first post-season win!

We know this: Baylor’s Griner can do more than dunk

From ESPN’s The Magazine – Elena Bergeron: Laying down her road – Baylor center Brittney Griner’s game is going to get even better

From Mechelle: Baylor seeks repeat as NCAA champ

As coach of the last team to beat Baylor in the NCAA tournament, Texas A&M’s Gary Blair rates as the closest thing to an expert on that particular topic.

He talks about the need to score from the perimeter, to come up with some kind of effective zone defense … and then one other thing. A benefit that the Aggies had in facing Baylor that most teams don’t: familiarity. In a little more than a year — the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons — Baylor and Texas A&M met six times. Baylor won the first five of those games.

“And we won the one that counted most,” Blair said.

Lots of stuff at Full Court:

Hard work by Plaisance pays off for LSU Tigers

Under seeded Hampton, led by David Six, could surprise Duke

Kayla McBride – Irish have grown a lot this year

Final Four picks by Full Court experts

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all that’s left is to prepare for the second guessing of the committee. Until then, argue with Charlie.

Amongst those who are in, but awaiting word on where they are going:

Four, count’em FOUR overtimes. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  In the end, Prairie View A&M had the legs and the points to secure the victory over Mississippi Valley State. That’s the third SWAC title in a row for coach Wilson’s Panthers.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know how many overtimes we played,” Prairie View A&M coach Toyelle Wilson said. “I credit our girls; relentless. They said they could go five more (overtimes).”

Hampton did what it’s been doing all season. Rollin’ over opponents. That’s four straight conference tournament championships for the Pirates.

Cal Poly did what it’s never done: Punch their ticket to the Big Dance. And they did it in style, upsetting top-seed Pacific, 63-49.

Cal Poly overcame the loss of star forward Kayla Griffin on Saturday to upset top-seeded Pacific, 63-49, in the Big West Conference women’s basketball tournament final at Honda Center.

The win earned the second-seeded Mustangs their first trip to the NCAA tournament.

Griffin tore knee ligaments early in the second half, but Cal Poly was able to maintain the 11-point lead it built in the first half. Griffin had four points in her 24 minutes.

“We wouldn’t be in this position without Kayla, there’s no question,” Cal Poly Coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “I hated that she couldn’t be on the court at the end of the game.”

That’s the way to make an impression: Change coaches, join the Southland, win the Conference Championship. Sam Houston couldn’t make up the five point first half difference, and so Oral Roberts has a ticket to ride. Obviously, the Bearkats are disappointed, but consider this: the program hasn’t  had a winning season since 1996 before going 17-14 last year.

Central Michigan proved that finishing strong in the regular season can pay dividends in the conference tournament. They carried their momentum through the tournament and earned their first trip to the Dance since 1984. (Lordy, I was a year out of college and “When Doves Cry” was the #1 song). You’ll recall the heartbreak last year.

“I wanted to put 1.5 seconds on T-shirts,” coach Sue Guevara said. “This was the goal. To get to this tournament and win because it was such a heartbreaking loss last year.”

I’ve got to believe that for Guevara, it was both heartbreaking and galling, considered the post-tourney revelations.

Speaking of 1984, 1985 was the last time Idaho went to the tourney. (I know you’re wondering: Wham, “Careless Whisper.”) They’re going back by virtue of their win over Seattle U.

“Survive and advance has certainly been our motto in this tournament and we did it all the way till the end, and it’s a great feeling,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “I’m so happy for my players and I’m so happy for my staff. I feel that I have the greatest staff in America and our players have just worked their tails off to get to this moment and it’s fantastic, it’s a great feeling.”

Montana grabbed a lead over Northern Colorado, and the Bears couldn’t recover. Grizz go Danzin. From Bill Speltz:

After 35 years of coaching the same team, you figure a guy is bound to develop some hard bark on his personality.

Not Montana women’s basketball skipper Robin Selvig. His heart was so filled with happiness Saturday he couldn’t help shedding a few tears after the Lady Griz beat Northern Colorado 56-43 for the Big Sky Conference tournament championship.

His emotional postgame news conference prompted the senior sitting to his left, UM standout forward Katie Baker, to get a little misty herself. Then the Lady Griz beat writer in the front row, who thinks the world of Selvig and doesn’t care who knows it, started getting a little teary-eyed.

Navy left no doubt about who rules the Patriot League: 72-53 winners over Holy Cross, the senior-free Midshipmen have won three consecutive conference championships. How long will Pemper stay in Annapolis?

I’ve been told I need to look at the end of this game to check out a game-changing technical. That aside, sounds like it was a rockin’ environment in upstate New York as Hartford refused to roll over for the Great Danes. A back-and-forth game, it was tied at 52, and then Albany reeled off 9-straight points to secure the win and an NCAA berth.

UCF’s magical run in the C-USA conference tournament ended at the hands of Tulsa, who was making a nice run of their own. 

Tulsa coach Matilda Mossman sounded as stunned as anyone when she let the realization dawn that a season that began 0-5 was going to culminate with the school’s second berth in the NCAA tournament.

“I’m just so excited, a chill went through my body when I said we’re going to the tournament,” said the second-year coach after Tulsa defeated Central Florida 75-66 in the championship game of the Conference USA tournament Saturday. “We’ve been talking about it, but now it’s real.”

Writes Joel Klein at the Tulsa World:

Tulsa’s Taleya Mayberry, one of the best players in school history, took over the tournament and is taking the Golden Hurricane to the NCAA Tournament.

“She was great for us and she had to be for us to win,” said Mossman.

Mayberry, fantastic for four days, was at her best in a 75-66 victory over UCF in the Conference USA Women’s Basketball Tournament final on Saturday night at the BOK Center.

Mayberry scored 25 points in the final and averaged 25 in the four games.

The Sooners tweet: OU Women’s Hoops ‏@Congrats to our friends @TUWBasketball on their C-USA title! For 1st time, all 4 D1 teams in Oklahoma playing in NCAA Tourney.

San Diego State was on a roll, but clearly Wiggins didn’t leave the Fresno State cupboard bare.

The Aztecs had their 17-game winning streak snapped as they fell behind by 22 points and couldn’t come all the way back in a 76-70 loss to Fresno State in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference tournament on Saturday.

“We picked a bad time to have a bad time,” San Diego State coach Beth Burns said. “I think Fresno State had an awful lot to do with that.

The result: Dawgs go Dawncin’.

Doug Feinberg didn’t get his wish granted by Quinnipiac (another game coming down to the final shot). Instead, the Bobcats blew away St. Francis (PA) to get their first invite to the NCAA Tournament.

‘‘We are kind of waking people up a little bit,’’ said forward Brittany McQuain, a junior from Independence, Mo., who acknowledges she had never heard of Quinnipiac before an assistant coach came to recruit her. ‘‘It’s good to be a part of this, and great that people are starting to recognize who we are.’’

The Blue Hens are doing their own version Chicken Dance, as Delaware escaped a stubborn Drexel, 59-56. Great for fans and the team that they’re hosting the first two rounds. Says Graham:

Elena Delle Donne scored the final points in her final Colonial Athletic Association game.

But the coach who ended up face down on the court doing water angels Sunday afternoon had a point of her own about Delaware.

Delaware is more than a one-woman team, as coach Tina Martin preached all weekend. It is more than the greatest player the program will ever have. And the one woman who proved it Sunday was Trumae Lucas, whose drive to the basket and two subsequent free throws in the final minute gave the Blue Hens their final lead in a 59-56 win against Drexel that nearly went the other way.

There really was no doubt, even with a stunningly ugly opening to the second half, Green Bay managed to rout Loyola (IL), 54-38 and earn their fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

Kevin Borseth’s goal when he returned to coach UWGB this season was to not screw up the success he helped build before he left for Michigan and continued when Matt Bollant roamed the sideline here for five years.

He didn’t.

Their regular season game went to overtime. Their rematch in the A-10 finals came down to the last possession: Fordham with the ball, a chance to shoot for the win, but an offensive foul ended the game. St. Joseph’s goes to their first NCAA tournament in 12 years.

One the game: Four thousand plus came to the game — primarily Fordham fans. Had a lovely pre-game chat with the mom of their point guard and, as always, enjoyed WFUV’s play-by-play folks. College kids who are serious about the product, their professionalism… and the future of their team. “Coach is very excited by her incoming class.”

It was wonderful having some women’s hoops happening in NYC during conference tournament time. Very much enjoyed my Barclay experience. Staff was helpful, friendly and on point. Lighting focused ON the court, not the arena (like The Rock does in NJ). Seems to me, if the gentlemen continue to use the Garden for the NIT, there’s no reason Brooklyn shouldn’t look to host the women’s Final Four.

About that waiting game:

From the Naples News: ‘Deserving’ FGCU hoping against hope for NCAA at-large bid

It’s a strange feeling for Karl Smesko, being unable to control his team’s destiny.

Smesko has orchestrated the Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team’s rapid rise in Division I the past six seasons. He’s turned the Eagles into a dominant lower-major program, yet he’s done all he can do for his team this season.

From Louisiana, Lady Tigers eye NCAA berth

Around the LSU women’s basketball program, it’s become known as the Tim Tebow speech.

Her team reeling after back-to-back losses in early February dropped the Lady Tigers to 13-10 and out of any reasonable hope of making the NCAA tournament, Jeanne Kenney gathered the Lady Tigers around her in the locker room after their heartbreaking 64-62 loss to Tennessee and told them they couldn’t let seniors Bianca Lutley and Adrienne Webb go out on such a low note.

From the Washington Post: Maryland, Navy women’s basketball await NCAA tournament seedings

Meanwhile, the Army women are turning their focus to the WNIT

From Jerry Brewer: Seattle U women fall short of NCAA bid, but hope to refuel for WNIT

Sylvia Shephard walked to the Seattle University bench and bent over as her tears began. Her coach, Joan Bonvicini, patted her on the back, whispered that she was proud of her and tried to minimize the pain.

There was no relief, however.

In college basketball, nothing hurts like March.

She knows she’s going, but Purdue’s Mingo knows how to pay it forward

School? Yikes, we still have school? Marist begins preparation for NCAA tournament

After a week of midterms, Emma O’Connor and Kristina Danella walked through the doors at McCann Arena Friday morning ready to get back to work.

“We were like, ‘We feel like we haven’t been here forever,’ ” said Danella, a fifth-year senior forward on the Marist College women’s basketball team.

From Brian Howard at the Daily Camera: CU Buffs’ Chucky Jeffery closing out storied career

Chucky Jeffery looks at the waiter.

“Can I have the …”

“Teriyaki chicken, no vegetables,” the waiter said, smiling as he finishes the sentence.

“Yes, absolutely!” Jeffery replied with a laugh.

She’s clearly been here before.

While Jeffery’s dinner choice may lack originality, very little else about Colorado’s senior point guard is that predictable.

This is, after all, a girl who grew up preferring to participate in football and karate to basketball and dance classes. She’s a student who admits, “I’m not big on school,” yet has the desire to pursue a graduate degree. And, she’s a player who was once a challenge to coach, but looks forward to coaching in the future.

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than the dang NCAA tourney:

On the “Rolled’em” side it was:

…Baylor winning its third straight B12 Title by stomping all over Iowa State in the first half (Actually, Griner did most of the stomping) and cruising through the second half to a 75-47 win. BG shot 14-17, showing, says Mechelle, that Baylor’s ready for the Big Dance

Of course, the worst thing that could have happened to Iowa State was Oklahoma State giving Baylor a scare in the Big 12 women’s tournament semifinals.

In these past two seasons of dominance in their league, the Lady Bears just haven’t faced many challenges. That can sometimes cause motivation problems, even for very talented teams.

But this is a mature, senior-led group that understands Baylor is seeking a place in the pantheon of “greatest teams in women’s college history.” So being the defending NCAA champion and running through the league undefeated for a second year in a row hasn’t led to much lackadaisical, passionless play by Baylor.

…Marist winning its eighth straight MAAC title by tromping over the Gaels, 72-48. Writes Sean T. McMann of the Poughkeepsie Journal: Selflessness a source of pride with Marist

Throughout the course of a season, the Marist College women’s basketball team lends its support to local causes like the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation and the Friend of Jaclyn organization.

Monday, the Red Foxes helped each other out.

Marist’s first 17 field goals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament title game came off an assist — that spanned from the opening tip until 7:34 into the second half — and the Red Foxes earned an assist on 24 of their 26 buckets in the game.

On the, “Dang, I wish I could have been there!” side:

It was a fun game to watch (thank you, U), though when I tuned in my mystical WHB powers sent both teams on scoring drought. Ooops! In the end, Middle Tennessee overcame their nemesis, Arkansas-Little Rock, 53-48. (Great crowd!)

“It feels a lot better to know you’re going to watch and you’re name’s going to get called, without a doubt,” Middle Tennessee guard Kortni Jones said. “Last year, we were on pins and needles.”… This year, we know our name will pop up.”

It’s too easy to forget that many of the players on this Blue Raiders team suffered the loss of teammate Tina Stewart.

The 1 v 2 match up between Davidson and Chattanooga lived up to it’s billing:

Kayla Christopher had one bit of advice for her Chattanooga teammates coming out of the huddle in the final frantic seconds — crash the boards.The Lady Mocs had 21 offensive rebounds, but none bigger than Christopher’s putback with 8.2 seconds remaining that lifted Chattanooga to a 64-63 victory over Davidson in the Southern Conference championship Monday.”I’ve been dreaming about this day for a month now and imagining what it would be like,” Christopher said. “For it to actually come true is just awesome.”

It was the Mocs’s ninth conference championship in 13 years under Wes Moore.

San Diego hung tough, but in the end, Gonzaga, and a key player, made sure their NCAA destiny was in their own hands:

Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves expected to play the West Coast Conference championship game without Taelor Karr after the senior guard hurt her back in the semifinals.

After testing it out during warm-ups, Karr announced to her coach that she was ready to go, giving the Bulldogs just the lift they needed to make another trip to the NCAA tournament.Fighting through pain and a rough start, Karr had 14 points, six assists and five rebounds to help lift Gonzaga to a 62-50 win over San Diego in the WCC final Monday, earning the Bulldogs an NCAA berth for the fifth straight season.

The Summit was an all-South Dakota event: To get to the finals, the Jackrabbits easily dispatched the Mastodons (No, I’m not kidding) and the Coyotes came back from a halftime deficit to defeat the IUPUI Jaguars, 82-72. This was South Dakota’s first ever finals. It was a close fought game, with the newcomers holding the lead for most of the game. But, in front of record crowd of 6,153, the Jackrabbits prevailed,

Still TBD: From Gene Wang at WaPo:Navy women’s basketball advances to Patriot League tournament final

The second-seeded Navy women’s basketball team kept its bid to win a third consecutive Patriot League tournament title intact by blunting a second-half rally and nearly getting a triple-double from Alix Membreno to complete a 60-48 semifinal victory over Bucknell in front of 579 at Alumni Hall on Monday night.

They’ll go up against Holy Cross, where coach Gibbons did a nice job righting the ship after a tough start to the season.

Michigan State’s Senior Jasmine Thomas is capping ‘unbelievable’ final year

Jasmine Thomas shrugged it off after learning she earned all-tournament honors Sunday.

The pain and frustration from a 62-47 loss to Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament championship game was still fresh on the Michigan State senior guard’s mind.

But without Thomas, the Spartan women’s basketball team wouldn’t have reached the championship game for the second time ever. And without her, there’s no telling where MSU would be right now.

In Nebraska, Sam McKewon writes about the Long Wait

Now the Nebraska women’s basketball team gets to sit tight, get healthy and try to keep some semblance of on-court chemistry. For almost two weeks.

The Huskers bowed out of the Big Ten Tournament Saturday in their 77-64 loss to Purdue. Though football kept me in Lincoln, I watched both the rout over Iowa and the loss to the Boilermakers, and neither result particularly surprised me. The margins did. But not the results.

Okay, this is just disappointing: Suspension of 19 Jackson Community College women’s basketball players, assistant coach after bench-clearing fight is just, league official says

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(or the heavy favorite).

Just ask Louisville, which got a taste of why USF gave Notre Dame fits: down the Cardinals, 73-62.

Just ask Oklahoma State, which got stunned by previously Big 12 winless TCU, 64-63.

Just ask Purdue, which saw Indiana made excellent use of a time out with 12 seconds to go and get the winning basket as time expired. Hoosiers 62, Boilermakers 61.

Just ask Army, which may have been reveling in their win over Navy a bit. They got upended by Colgate’s (2-9, Patriot) strong second half, 60- 56. Navy returns to first place in the conference.

Just ask Fresno State, who couldn’t control the Wolf Pack (2-9, MW) in the second half, nor find the basket, and as a consequence lost 60-54.

Teams that didn’t have any issues: Penn State (12-1, Big 10),  Toledo Rockets (11-1, MAC), Hampton (12-0 MEAC), Charlotte (10-1, A10), Davidson (14-2 Southern, though it took overtime and they face the Mocs on the 25th), Quinnipiac (14-0 NEC and getting some press), St. Joe’s (10-1, A10), Central Michigan (10-2 MAC) and San Diego State, 11-1, MWC).

It’s not been the “season to build on” Magarity may have hoped for, but that didn’t prevent New Hampshire from knocking off Hartford.

Behind Smith’s 24/9, St. John’s is still making a run at the NCAA tournament.

Finally: Ohio got its first MAC win.

Ouch: Pittsburgh is still winless in the Big East.

Surprise win for Texas — they handle Kansas in a game Debbie would have liked, 93-83.

Some team news:

Their recent weekend of success may have something to do with this: Second-year spark ignites Penn women’s basketball – Resurgent Quakers have received significant efforts from a quintet of sophomore stars

Health news: CU Buffs’ Lexy Kresl remains day-to-day

It’s been a while since we’ve spoken about the impact of walk-ons: Ex-Memorial star Draper eager to aid Fresno State

From Bill Rabinowitz at the Columbus Dispatch: Coach, player develop bond at school for deaf

Coaching a college basketball team that loses 15 straight games can be discouraging.

The same applies for a senior whose playing time evaporates as a result.

That’s why Saturday’s season finale for the Gallaudet University women’s basketball team was so special for central Ohio natives Amy Bachtel and Stephanie Stevens.

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Syracuse WBB: Halfcourt Shot by Brittney Sykes Sinks St. John’s, 60-57 (video)

Mas Dunks, asked Debbie. Griner replies, Okay. Oh, and Baylor won.

Oklahoma State’s been having an up down up down season. This time the “down” was courtesy of Kansas State. The Wildcats are banding together after injuries.

Yup, the new coach has made a difference: St. Louis over Richmond.

The road up in New Hampshire has hit some roadblocks. Hartford over Hampshire.

The two top dogs in the Am. East met: The Danes’ slightly better first half was the key to their win over the Terriers.

Central Michigan moved to 5-0 in the MAC as they rolled over Ohio.

With their win over Colgate, Army is now 4-0 in the Patriot League. Navy did the Black Knights a favor by swabbing the floor with American U, 61-42.

Well, perhaps it’s not the WHB curse, but the Debbie Antonelli curse. She mentions ‘nova on the podcast, then “Voila!”, down they go. To Providence. Providence!

I’m thinking, yah, it IS Debbie’s curse, because lookee here: Fordham won again and is 4-0 in the A-10. They’ll travel to Pennsylvania to meet fellow undefeated Conference-mate Duquesne on the 27th.

Texas was down 46-12 at the half on their way to a 76-38 thumping by Kansas.

The Hilltoppers got tripped up by South Alabama, 56-46. They face their top – soon to be leaving the – Conference competition Middle Tennessee next.

Is there something in the air this season? Women’s basketball sets 3-point record in win

Lady Swish has a little somethin’ somethin’ on a surprising conference: Lookee, who’s in first place in the Big South! A chat with Longwood’s Chelsea Coward

One team sits atop the Big South — and no, it’s not Liberty for a change, and neither is it surprising Presbyterian. Instead, atop the league sits upstart Longwood, sporting a gaudy 6-1 mark in conference – every other Big South team has at least two losses – and a 9-9 record overall. We say upstart not because the Lancers are full of underclassmen — seniors Chelsea Coward (16 ppg, 9 rpg) and Crystal Smith (16.9 ppg) lead this experienced bunch — but this is the first year Longwood is in a conference.

Delle Donne, healthy or not, makes the difference. So says Graham, as Unranked Delaware still tops mid-major poll

From Mel’s blog: Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Still Reaching for the Summit. Speaking of the SEC: Williams-Flournoy ready for her first game against Alabama, while the Lady Vols are not dwelling on past with Vanderbilt. 

Wondering who might “Got Next?” Check out Full Court’s list: 2013 McDonald’s All-American nominees announced.

Speaking of “Who’s Got Next,” Clay also offered up: The wheels are still turning in the WNBA

As the college season grinds into conference play, WNBA general managers, coaches and fans think about upgrading their rosters – and thus are contemplating the draft, free agents and possible trades.

The draft, as has been exhaustively discussed, starts with Brittney Griner (luckily she’s from Texas so the summer heat in Phoenix won’t be that hard to adjust to), moves on to Elena Delle Donne (as long as the Lyme disease is under control, she’s Chicago-bound) and pretty much finishes with Skylar Diggins (some star power lands in Tulsa).

There is more, though, and there will be surprise emergences over the next few years.

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like Annie Meyers?

That means she (and the other 100%-ers) id’d the one upset of the day/night: Gonzaga v. RU in Spokane. (Is the seat getting warm in New Jersey?)

The results of the rest of the games, ESPN-link-free:

As anticipated, Texas was one and done.

Dawn had no trouble with James and the Eagles.

No reason Navy shouldn’t be proud of their effort against Maryland.

Close, but not quite for Princeton against K-State. Tweet of the night from Coach B: And our #32 takes a mid-term on the way back to Princeton. Tough day. http://yfrog.com/esf17pnj

It Fresno, Purdue was singing “It’s rainin’ threes!

Louisville kept Michigan State at a safe distance throughout the game.

Stanford (by 22) and UConn (by 36) move on.

A tale of two halves for Dayton, as Arkansas pulled away in the second.

There was a moment when the “other” Tennessee was led “that” Tennessee, but then the Vols said “enough.”

If Kentucky fans weren’t already concerned about their team, the fact that they “escaped” McNeese State, a 15-seed, should start them worrying.

Nice battle between DePaul and BYU, but Ms. Martin & Co. made sure the Blue Devils advanced.

Texas A&M kept the Great Danes at bay.

Even down a star, Miami had little trouble with the Bengals.

Green Bay ripped through the Cyclones.

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sent two teams to the Dance.

In what could easily be dubbed an “instant classic,” Eastern Michigan kept trying to put away Central Michigan, but they would not stay gone. It came down to a missed free throw and a last second layup, and EMU wins the MAC. Heartbreak, obviously, for the Chippewas, but yikes — look at all the players they get back next year. Bowling Green’s gotta be hearing footsteps.

In the battle of the H’s, Howard couldn’t get over the hump that is Hampton. Again, a hard-fought game decided by a last second layup sends the Pirates to their third straight MEAC championship.

It’s not that I forgot about them (though I kinda did): Congrats to North Dakota, which proved the third time is the charm by finally winning the Big West Conference title. They’ll play in the WBI, and the Big Sky next year.

Look, up in the air! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Fresno State threeeee! A tournament record 15, to be precise. There wasn’t a lot of fight in LaTech, and the Bulldogs roared to the WAC title, 89-61.

In a battle of the unexpected finalists, the Midshipmen of Navy fitted themselves with dancing shoes courtesy of a 57-49 win over Holy Cross (their first win over the Crusaders in seven tries).

It was a dogfight in the Am.East Finals, but eventually the Great Danes of Albany overcame the Retrievers of UMB, 69-61,  earning their first trip to the NCAA tournament.

The victory, of course, means UAlbany women’s basketball has arrived as a bona fide Division I program, and that’s great for the school.

But just as important, there was excitement for women’s basketball Saturday night, and it’s been a long time since you could say that around here. That’s great for the sport.

Alcorn State had the lead at the half, but they could hold on against Prairie View. The 63-50 win gives Toyelle Wilson’s Panthers their second consecutive Southwestern Conference tournament championship.

It wasn’t particularly elegant, but Mountain West COY Beth Burns will take it: San Diego State takes down New Mexico and wins the conference championship, 57-43.

It wasn’t particularly pretty, but never underestimate the power of your home court: Idaho State took the Big Sky final with a 49-46 win over Northern Colorado.

Here’s a game Debbie and Beth would have liked: Down 11 with 5:30 left, CS Bakersfield fought back until Lauren Carter’s three pointer with just over a minute left gave them the lead over Seattle University. They held on and secured a 89-87 win – and, oddly enough, completes their worst season ever.

Long Beach didn’t have one last upset in them, and so it’s the UCSB Gauchos who win the Big West Championship and get the chance to dance in the Tournament.

UTEP won the program’s first C-USA title, but it wasn’t easy. They were down 12 with 15 minutes to go in the second, but rallied back to take the 69-65 win. Tulane is going to kick themselves all the way home: The missed 10 of 25 free throws.

The Battle of the Bays, redux, wasn’t all wet, but it was pretty damp. The Nerd City Kids made sure the Cal Bears didn’t get any ideas, and Stanford won its “first” Pac-12 Championship. Writes Michelle:

Less than a minute into Saturday’s Pac-12 championship game against Cal at Staples Center, Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike took an elbow to the face.

She bent over at the waist under the basket in obvious pain.

Nneka Ogwumike went straight to her younger sister, lifted her face in her hands, wiped her tears and gave her a talk. She got Chiney straightened out and headed to the bench before the trainer could even get there.

Maybe it’s not a stretch to say that Nneka Ogwumike really does do everything for Stanford.

Baylor said fare-the-well to Texas A&M with a mauling, 73-50, and it wasn’t all Big BG. Writes Mechelle:

Wherever it’s played in the future, though, it’s hard to imagine there will be a more dominant performance in the title game than the one Baylor had Saturday. The No. 1 seed, after an 18-0 regular-season record in Big 12 play, won its three league tournament games by an average of 22.7 points. The Bears’ 23-point margin of victory over Texas A&M was the largest in a Big 12 title game, surpassing Oklahoma’s 19-point win over Texas in 2004.

Superstar Griner — the Big 12 Player of the Year and favorite for that honor nationally, too — had season lows in points (11) and rebounds (three) in her 26 minutes Saturday. But it didn’t even matter.

Check out Charlie’s latest bracketology and see what you think about the College Sports Madness bracket.

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(What, are you crazy?) but, did I not mention Central Michigan was on a (freshmen) roll?

They take down Bowling Green, setting up an all-Michigan MAC final (first time for CMU since 1991) when they go up against Eastern Michigan, who took down Toledo, 59-57. This means you can catch a glimpse of Tavelyn James, a 5-foot-7 guard for the Eagles (and winner of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award).

I’m thinking coach Cullop sticks around for the return of Shafir — but I wonder what happens after graduation. As for Bowling Green’s chance at the Dance? Lemme just say you couldn’t pay me enough to be on this year’s Selection Committee.

Oh, this could get ugly. The Mountain West finals pit San Diego State (24-6, 12-2) against New Mexico (11-19, 2-11), the first No. 7 seed to advance to the title game.

The #2 teams in the Southland went up against each others, and it was last year’s “darlings”, the McNeese State Cowgirls, earning their second strating invite to the Dance with their 60-56 win over Stephen F. Austin.

Cynthia Cooper’s old team, and Toyelle Wilson’s 2nd-year team, Prairie View A&M (16-15, 11-7 SWAC) upset Mississippi Valley State, 58-55, to earn a trip to the SWAC finals. They’ll face Alcorn State, who sorta upset Grambling State, 67-41.

Baylor is on a tear. Griner is, too. Loved this tweet from Mechelle: “Watching guards, especially, try to drive on Griner is like watching the unfortunate contestants on “Wipeout:” You know they’re doomed.” And this one after BG broke Andrea Riley’s  scoring record: “Griner new Big 12 tourney single-game scoring record with 45. She’s exited game. Rumor: Andrea Riley seeks game of HORSE, no dunks. :)”  In the Big 12 finals, the  Bears get to go up against a familiar, soon to be former, foe: Texas A&M. (With or without Tyra White.)

Oh, and here’s a little local commentary on Texas: Longhorns’ loss to Texas Tech dims future for team, coach.

You know, even if you took away EDD’s 21 points, they would have beaten Old Dominion. Not sure the Blue Hens would have survived without her 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks.

The Pac 12 semis got all Big East-ish, with Stanford surviving Arizona State and Cal eventually pulling away from Washington State.

Whoops. Tulane washed away Memphis’ home court advantage, and now it’s the Green Wave sweeping in to the C-USA finals against UTEP, who buried the UAB Blazers.

Debbie and Beth would have liked this game: UNC Wilmington 94, Hofstra 87. Seahawks play the Hens next.

Long Beach (7-9, Big West) is getting upset-happy: this time they took down Cal Poly (12-4), 51-48. And lookee who they get to face! Gauchos, we have missed ye: UCSB (8-8). They’ve split the season games: 46-34 and 47-35. That’s what happens when the top five teams in the Big West tournament go flop.

My apologies to Utah State — I promise I’ll never mention you again. The Aggies (11-3, WAC) got upset by La Tech, 73-69. And boy, were they upset! Postgame handshakes turn to punches. (Was Debbie Black in the house?) Spoon’s crew will face Fresno State, who chewed right through the Vandals.

As expected, the MEAC finals will be a battle of the H’s: Hampton v. Howard.

Lucky Detroit gets to go up against Green Bay IN Green Bay in the Horizon finals.

Equally fun? Northern Colorado (11-5) taking on the the Idaho State Bengals (15-2) on THEIR home court in the Big Sky finals.

Patriot League finals are tomorrow: Navy v. Holy Cross playing for the right to face UConn (according to Charlie).

Check in with Charlie’s latest bracketology.

Oh, and I have another question for ESPN. Why, when I check out the Men’s Scores during Conference Championship Time, does the board default to “All,” but on the women’s side it defaults to “Top 25?”

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#3 Baylor, #6 Xavier and #19 Georgetown got wins (though the Hoyas struggled a tad). But the Blue Demons got eaten up at the YUM Center by Louisville. The Cardinals have knocked off five ranked teams this season.

DePaul had company in the upset department: Colorado used 24 points from Brittany Spears to snap an 8-game losing streak against #15 Oklahoma, 73-68.

Over at Fanhouse, Milton Kent looks ahead to the tourney No. 1s.

With roughly three weeks remaining before the field for this year’s NCAA tournament is unveiled, it’s a pretty safe bet that, barring some catastrophe, one part of the women’s basketball committee’s work is largely done, even before the nine members get to Indianapolis.

That is to say, that we pretty much already know who the four No.1 seeds are, and can pretty safely assign them to their regions.

As for the other teams still in the “discussion:”

Toledo escaped with a one-point win over Eastern Michigan to go to 13-1 in the MAC West. Central Michigan (West) and Kent State (East) both got wins to take them to 10-4 in the conference.

It’s interesting at the top in the America East, especially since Binghamton beat BU. Now both teams sit at 11-4 in the conference. UMBC rules the roost, though, at 13-3. Oh, and don’t look now, but Hartford’s lurking at 10-4.

It’weren’t easy, but the Owls beat the Hawks to stay perfect in the A-10. On the horizon looms the clash with the Musketeers. (Feb. 27th, ESPNU, 4pm EST)

Navy’s defeat of American runs the Midshipmen’s record to 9-4 in the Patriot League. They’ve got a shot at the regular season conference title on Saturday.

With their 81-57 win over Air Force, Wyoming looks to run up on TCU and BYUs heels in the Mountain West. By the way, congrats to Dale Ann Meeker, who’s having her Powell High School jersey retired:

The first female athlete to receive a basketball scholarship at the University of Wyoming, Meeker played for the Pokes from 1975-1979. During her senior season, her team earned the Intermountain Conference championship, finishing with a school-record 25 wins and seven losses. That season would stand as the best in school history until surpassed by the 2006-2007 NIT team.

In high school, Meeker was part of the first-ever girls’ basketball team at Powell High School as a freshman. As a junior, she brought home a mythical state title — mythical because Wyoming did not hold an official state championship tournament for girls — while serving as the team captain. One year later, she repeated the feat, again as team captain.


 

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