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Don’t be fooled by the final score — ’cause you know coach McCallie can’t be pleased that the Great Danes were UP on Duke during a hunk of the first half.

Syracuse’s Sykes likes to score. Let’s see how the Orange handle St. Joe’s, ASU and NC State.

Speaking of NC State (Moore’s Wolfpack best kept secret in Triangle) : Down goes #12 LSU.

N.C. State’s women havewon a lot of basketball games this season, but on Friday night at Reynolds Coliseum the Wolfpack got first-year coach Wes Moore a signature win.

State got 25 points apiece from Markeisha Gatling and Kody Burke and 17 from Len’Nique Brown, controlling the game for the entire second half in an 89-79 win over No. 12 LSU.

UNLV over Clemson. That’s got to be a frustrating loss for the Tigers.

Almost. Readers of this blog are familiar with the Winthrop Eagles. #10 South Carolina is REALLY familiar, having had to fight tooth and nail to escape with a 8-point win. Perhaps they had a Tar Heel hangover?

Oh, those in-state rivalries! Missouri State (3-6) took down Missouri (10-2), 67-53.

I’ve been keeping half an eye on Ole Miss this season, mostly because of their new head coach, Matt Insell. Their game against Sims… I mean, Baylor, has made me put both eyes on the team.

Speaking of  coaches — how much does 0-9 Prairie View miss Cynthia Cooper.

Speaking of Coop, it ain’t all wine and roses in USC land. The Trojans fall to the buzz-saw that is Saint Mary’s second half, 71-55.

Loss numero uno for UTEP, as their trip to Puerto Rico pitted them against Georgia Tech.

More baby steps for San Francisco – a nice away win over traditionally strong Fresno State.

Yes, they have a gaudy 10-1 record, but 4-5 Pacific kept within 7 of Florida State.

Today, Mechelle and Michelle recognized that #3 Tennessee To Be Tested by #6 Stanford  – as will a series of undefeated folks. Ellitot Almond has some more on the game and Steve Megargee adds:

After playing just one ranked opponent in their first 10 games, the Lady Vols will face their toughest test of the season thus far Saturday when they travel to No. 6 Stanford (9-1). Tennessee has lost its last two games in this series by double digits and hasn’t won at Stanford since 2005.

“It would be great to get a ‘W’ to break that drought, but also just to show the rest of the country that we mean business,” Tennessee forward Cierra Burdick said.

Tom FitzGerald at the SFGate thinks the Stanford women have tall task against Vols

When your goal is the national championship, any slipup hurts. The sixth-ranked Stanford women’s basketball team has already flunked one big test, losing at No. 1 UConn by 19 points. Now it faces another.

The Cardinal (9-1) play No. 3 Tennessee at Maples Pavilion Saturday, and the battle on the boards should be ferocious.

A player who expects to be featured in that battle finds time to blog: A lot to celebrate for Nerd Nation 

Last week I was either living in the library or hibernating in my room. The short time I did sleep, I dreamt about school. Four long papers and three tests later, my brain is officially fried … I have survived finals week!

It is always a challenge for us student-athletes to balance sports and school. But it is a challenge we readily accept. Nonetheless, I am glad it’s over. While most students go home for Christmas break, we prepare for (as Coach Tara says) our basketball final.

#11 Colorado (9-0) v. #7 Louisville: UofL women’s basketball players talk Slaughter, Buffalo revenge and Louisville women’s next test is unbeaten No. 11 Colorado

Because any suspense over the outcomes was cast aside not long after tipoff, there’s only been one question for observers of the University of Louisville women’s basketball team the past four games: Can the Cardinals reach 100 points?

U of L has been batting .500 in that regard, posting totals of 91, 99, 108 and 105 points and averaging a 49-point margin of victory over four midmajor opponents.

#13 Oklahoma State (9-0) v. Georgia Tech.

When Rutgers goes up against 11-0 Georgia, they are  seeking a “quality victory.”

Heading into the highlight of its nonconference schedule this afternoon against 11-0 and 16th-ranked Georgia at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, the Rutgers University women’s basketball team is 8-2 against a schedule that some have labeled soft.

There is some plausibility to that statement, what with lopsided wins over Northeastern, Howard, Davidson and Wagner on the resume, but the schedule Hall of Fame head coach C. Vivian Stringer has embarked on has largely been by design in an effort to get this young team some confidence and momentum.

With the schedule it has played, is Rutgers prepared to step up in class against the Bulldogs?

Rick Nixon at the NCAA.com wonders: Good scheduling or for real? How will surprising unbeatens fare in conference play?

Being an undefeated team in late December sometimes comes with a footnote. While an 11-0 start for Connecticut is expected, others like Arkansas, Indiana, UTEP, Colorado and San Diego standing undefeated at this point of the season merits attention, and also speculation on how these teams will fare once conference play tips.

Arkansas, now 11-0, has won 20 consecutive non-conference games during the past two seasons. In fact, Razorbacks head coach Tom Collen has built a 90-21 all-time record in non-conference play in seven seasons. Since 1982, Arkansas is 199-14 in non-conference games. The Razorbacks, which will play 10 of the 13 non-conference games at home, have two non-conference games remaining this season withTennessee Tech and Mississippi Valley State both visiting Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. A home win against Middle Tennessee State and a road victory at Kansas rate as Arkansas’ top wins over the first month-plus. On Jan. 2, South Carolina will pay a visit to Fayetteville to signal the start of Southeastern Conference play.

Congrats to coach McGraw, who will be inducted into Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. I’m sure she’s not looking ahead as her Notre Dame crew will face the always stubborn Chippewas, though CMU is not as strong as they have been the past few years.

Cool news for when #5 Kentucky (11-0) goes up against #2 Duke: Rupp Arena sold out. Which leads Mark Story to ask: If Kentucky-Duke women fill Rupp, is it time for UK Hoops to play more games there?

On the other side of the spectrum: BYU women’s basketball: The magical, but unseen season

Lying in the shadows of a nationally recognized football program and the high octane offense of an exciting men’s basketball team, the BYU women’s basketball team is quietly making their way into the years’ best BYU team with an extremely impressive start. Through ten games the Lady Cougars have lost only one game and yet continue to play to crowds that are closer to 500 than 1000. With a little more support from the fans, could this special season turn magical?

From the Miami Herald: UM’s Krystal Saunders stays strong for women’s basketball team despite family tragedy

It has not been the senior season University of Miami guard Krystal Saunders envisioned, and the past five months certainly have tested her mettle.

Saunders’ troubles began before the season started. In July, she was involved in a serious car accident while riding with three teammates to visit her mother’s Broward home in West Park. Saunders sustained a concussion and injuries to her neck and back.

It looks at first glance like one of college basketball’s more unlikely friendships, so of course it has improbable origins.

The connection between Oklahoma’s Sherri Coale and Marist’s Brian Giorgis brings together programs from different parts of the basketball strata Saturday in Poughkeepsie. It is a partnership that ought to be a model for moving the game forward, one of the sport’s biggest programs willing to go on the road to play one of the most successful small programs. Even if in this particular case, the roots of the series stretch all the way back to a field goal missed nearly five decades ago.

That part might be tricky to replicate.

Somewhat related, the APs John Marshall offers this: Arizona State to retire Becenti’s number

In the sacred Navajo hoop dance, performers bounce and hop as they whirl hoops around their arms and bodies, a ritual honoring the circle of life.

For Ryneldi Becenti, a smaller hoop within that greater circle helped guide her life.

Whether it was a rusted rim tacked to a tree or iron attached to glass under the bright lights of a WNBA arena, watching a ball go through an 18-inch hoop held sway over Becenti, bringing her closer to her deceased mother, making her a role model for her people, taking her from the reservation around the world and back again.

“It is in my blood,” Becenti said. “I slept, ate and drank basketball. It was all I had.” 

A little WNBA news from Doug: Delle Donne stays in Chicago for winter

Whether working basketball clinics, meeting with business leaders or just showing her face around town, Delle Donne is making the most of her time in the Windy City.

“It definitely has been a huge chance to help get the word out about the team and the league,” Delle Donne said. “They see me and being 6-foot-5, they are like who’s this athletic tall girl at these business meetings. They want to follow us next year. It’s important to have our faces out there so they can get excited about it.”

Michelle Smith straddles the W and the NCAA with her piece on Nicole Powell: WNBA veteran, former Stanford star finding her niche on Gonzaga sideline

Nicole Powell stood on the court in front of the visitors’ bench in Maples Pavilion on Saturday afternoon, looked up at the screen above center court and smiled widely as the strains of the “Welcome Back Kotter” theme boomed through the speakers.

The video highlights showed a young Powell, wearing her trademark headband, etching her spot in the Stanford women’s basketball record books as a three-time All-American.

When it was done, and the Stanford fans stood and applauded, it was time to get down to business. For Powell, that meant coaching the opposing team.

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It was close, and then it wasn’t:

#7 Cal over Utah.

#8 Penn State over Ohio State.

#5 Kentucky over LSU.

#22 Florida State over Virginia Tech.

Texas Tech over TCU.

NC State over Georgia Tech.

UTEP over Houston.

Butler over VCU.

Delaware over Drexel.

Creighton over Bradley.

Washington over Oregon.

It was close, and stayed close:

#19 UCLA over Arizona State

#13 Louisville over St. John’s.

#11 North Carolina over Miami.

#18 South Carolina over Arkansas.

#15 Purdue over #25 Michigan State.

Seton Hall over Rutgers.

Wichita State over Evansville.

It was never close:

#4 Duke over Boston College

#15 Georgia over Florida.

#17 Dayton over Massachusetts.

#16 TAMU over Missouri

#10 Maryland over Clemson.

Duquesne over Fordham.

MTSU over Western Kentucky.

Fresno State over Colorado State.

It wasn’t close, and then it got close.

Virginia over Wake Forest.

It was so close, it became a loss.

Iowa over #23 Michigan.

Washington State over Oregon State.

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Check out the final results of the first round of the WNIT. BTW, congrats! “San Diego won its first postseason game in history, holding off Cal State Northridge 60-58 to advance to Round 2, where they will host Pacific at 7 p.m. ET Sunday.”

Second Round Picks
Saturday, March 17
Appalachian State at NC State, 5 p.m. ET
Harvard at Temple, 6 p.m. ET
Florida International at South Florida, 7 p.m. ET
Memphis at Missouri State, 8 p.m. ET
Saint Mary�s at Oregon State, 10 p.m. ET

Sunday, March 18
Wake Forest at JMU, 2 p.m. ET
VCU at St. Joseph�s, 2 p.m. ET
Tulane at Texas Tech, 3 p.m. ET
Utah at Washington, 3 p.m. ET
Wichita State at Oklahoma State, 3 p.m. ET
Villanova at Illinois State, 3:05 p.m. ET
Pacific at San Diego, 7 p.m. ET

Monday, March 19
Syracuse at Drexel, 7 p.m. ET
Cincinnati at Toledo, 7 p.m. ET
Richmond at Virginia, 7 p.m. ET
Colorado at South Dakota, 8 p.m. ET

Next, in the better late than never world, check out the other basketball that’s going on:

The NCAA Division II brackets have hit the semis and three of the four #1 seeds are playing: Wayne State v, Bentley and Rollin v. Cinderella Lander, the #4 seed responsible for the missing #1 seed. The teams are playing in San Antonio (lucky devils) on March 21st.

The NCAA Division III brackets finish up on St. Patrick’s Day in Holland, Michigan. George Fox, who stopped the Amherst winning streak at 50, will fact off against  Illinois Wesleyan, who earned a shot at the title by virtue of their 67-53 win over St. Thomas.

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South Carolina took a huge lead in the first, and built on in it the second, stomping their way to a 79-48 win over North Carolina.

NC State took a good lead into the second, and held off a furious Vandy comeback and gave the Commodores their first loss of the season, 66-59.

In a back-and-forth game, a CLUTCH three-pointer by Carter capped a huge comeback by Texas A&M. The Aggies took down USC — but honestly, all eyes are on Jackie Gemelos, who went down with a knee injury.

The Red Foxes go down again and the Bonnies are 10-1.

The Penguins win again!

Fun, fun game between Kentucky and Notre Dame. Not much defense, lots of offensive fouls, some painful missed layups,  a key foul-out  (some extra curricular stuff) and Diggins didn’t disappoint. Result? The Irish come away with the 92-83 win.

With one bold decision to launch the basketball skyward and an afternoon otherwise spent protecting it like it had a Secret Service code name, Skylar Diggins made sure there was one fewer member of the undefeated club by the end of Sunday’s game between No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 7 Kentucky.

Just how hard she and the Fighting Irish had to fight to do so suggests the club of championship contenders extends to Lexington.

Don’t let the final score (65-61) fool ya — Baylor/UConn was just as fun. A back-and-forth battle, electric atmosphere, and a great showcase for Griner (and not a bad one for Hartley and Simms). Bears win, time to start the “will they go undefeated” chatter!

“You’re not just playing the current UConn team, you’re playing a very proud tradition,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “No matter how good we play, they’re not going to go away.

“I don’t want to keep using the phrase ‘I saw a team grow up’; I think we’re grown now. But we still have lots of things to do. It was the first time we’ve beaten Connecticut; we’ve played them three times now. I’ve never coached a team that’s done that.”

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North Carolina State is so shorthanded they had to borrow a player from the cross country team.

It’s been a tough season for the Wolfpack, with far too many “almost a win”s. So I’m guessing last night’s 88-72 stomping of #13 North Carolina must have tasted mighty sweet.

“We’ve been telling our kids all year to hang in there, we were going to get a big win, to keep fighting, it was going to happen,” the second-year coach said. “And I thanked them after the game. I thanked them for believing and having faith in what our staff was saying because it finally paid off.”

Nothing sweet about the schellacking #4 Tennessee laid on the Bulldogs.

#16 Miami continues its hot play, taking down Wake Forest by 28.

#24 Marist was equally dominating, winning by 41, but #23 Iowa State needed overtime to defeat the (likely to miss the NCAAs) Longhorns.

Prairie View A&M whacked fellow SWAC member AR-Pine Bluff 99-38. That puts the Panthers’ in-conference record at 11-3.

Loyola (MD) smacked fellow MAAC member Manhattan, 60-45. The Greyhounds are now 14-2 in the conference.

Florida Gulf Coast came back in the second half to defeat Stetson 64-59, and a WNIT berth looms.

Hampton handled Florida A&M, 88-49. They now sit at 13-1 in MEAC and have won the regular season title.

The Golden Grizzlies rallied late to take down the Bison, so Oakland’s 11-5 in the Summit. Makes the race to the conference title interesting, since IPFW (12-4 conf) lost to the Jackrabbits (11-6) on (ouch) senior night.

Whoops! Georgia South (12-16/9-10) surprised conference-mate Appalachian State (22-5/16-3), 67-57.

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NC State: Woodard Happy To Be Needed: Former women’s basketball manager Paige Woodard, now a member of the NC State cross country and women’s track teams, eagerly joined the injury-depleted basketball team for Sunday’s game against Georgia Tech.

At 7:20 p.m., her cell phone flashed up an unknown number. On the other end of the line was NC State women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper, wondering if Woodard — a former manager for the Wolfpack women’s basketball team and a former player at Division II Converse College — would be willing to hop on a plane that night to join Harper’s team in Atlanta for Sunday afternoon’s game against Georgia Tech.

Would she? Woodard was beyond thinking Harper would ever ask.

“I was pretty shocked when I got the call and excited when she laid out the opportunity,” Woodard said. “I said, ‘Heck, yes, I’ll go to Atlanta and play some basketball.’ I couldn’t wait to jump on that plane.”

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Or might have been, if Ariana Morer didn’t hit a buzzer-beater to avoid a FIFTH overtime. It was Virginia over NC State, 94-92.

Sometimes the numbers lie: #11 Maryland shot over 50% and won the battle of the boards, but Miami’s Shenise Johnson couldn’t care less. She went off for 30pts and the #21 Hurricanes came away with the upset. The DC BasketCases called it a “Tale of two Halves.”

I know it’s all the rage to wonder what’s up with Ohio State, but I kinda have the same question about #18 Kentucky, especially after the Wildcats lost to the suddenly surging South Carolina.

The UW women got their first sweep of Cal since ’04-’05.

LSU free throwed…threw… used free throws to squeak by Auburn.

It’s Tigers v Lions in a key Ivy match-up tonight.

The Ducks, says Rob Moseley of the Register-Guard, reached a new low in their loss to UCLA.

That makes 10 in a row for the Northern Iowa women.

Not to be out done, that’s 49 Pac-10 wins in a row for the Cardinal.

We’ve heard this before: “Sloppy” and “Tennessee.” We’ve also seen the result: Lady Vol victory.

In a battle of the States, Michigan took it to Penn and Anthony Odoradi thinks Merchant should be a household name.

North Carolina enjoys playing Clemson.

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Real Men Wear Pink page and help support the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

Guess this means Rush ain’t a real man.

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