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FIRST, it’s the WNIT

Great crowd came out to support (CUSA) UTEP and the Miners did not disappoint. Their 79-71, over (Big 12) TCU sets up a quarterfinal game against Oregon.

For 11 scary minutes Thursday night, a red-hot TCU team looked as though it might run the UTEP women’s basketball team right out of the Don Haskins Center in the third round of the WNIT.

There were two groups of people who had no intention of letting that happen: the Miner players and 7,024 screaming fans.

The Owls (American) topped the Bobcats (MAC), 75-61. Michigan is up next for Temple.

It was a bitter taste, once again for the Bobcats. 

Ohio didn’t anticipate the outcome of its postseason. It didn’t expect to lose to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. It didn’t expect to play in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). It didn’t expect to make it to the Sweet Sixteen round of the WNIT. 

And going into today, Ohio didn’t expect to lose to Temple, 75-61. But Thursday night in Philadelphia, the Bobcats did.

Northern Iowa (MVC) and South Dakota (Summit)  battled quarter to quarter. It was the Coyotes who grabbed the 1-point win, 51-50. They await the winners of the Hilltoppers/Billikens game.

The theory being thrown around in the University of South Dakota locker room on Thursday night was that the DakotaDome does not want to see these ladies leave the house just yet.

On Sunday night the Coyote women’s basketball team will play what is technically the fourth last basketball game in DakotaDome history this season. It is so because USD defeated Northern Iowa 51-50 to move into the quarterfinals of the WNIT.

The Coyotes added UNI to a list that included Creighton and Minnesota with a victory that had 14 lead changes. The increasingly rare movements on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter were fueled almost exclusively by scrappiness and a fully engaged home crowd.

NCAA: Wow, those blowouts on the men’s side really hurt the game…

SI Richard’s picks: Women’s NCAA tournament Sweet 16 preview & picks

We have reached the Sweet 16 stage of the women’s tournament, and predictably, all of the No. 1 seeds remain alive. But the opening rounds did see a pair of No. 2s—Maryland and Arizona State—get knocked off on their home courts by plucky No. 7 seeds (Washington and Tennessee). The conferences expected to do well have been successful: The Pac-12, the No. 1 RPI conference all season, has four teams (Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, Washington) in the Sweet 16 for the first time in tournament history. The SEC, the No. 2 RPI conference, also has four teams alive, including Kentucky, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee. Three teams (Florida State, Notre Dame and Syracuse) represent the ACC (No. 4 RPI). The pre-tournament prediction of all four No. 1 seeds landing in Indianapolis stands, but let’s take a look at the upcoming games.

UConn Isn’t The Only Storyline; Assessing The Women’s Bracket And Sweet 16

Bad timing: You’ve got to give Texas A&M coach Gary Blair credit. He could have taken the easy way out and not suspended senior forward Courtney Williams, A&M’s second-leading scorer, and reserve guard Shlonte Allen for an undisclosed violation of team rules the day of the Aggies’ first-round game against Missouri State. They remained suspended and the Aggies lost 74-56 on Monday to Florida State.

Syracuse v. South Carolina

SU must prepare for South Carolina’s Dawn Staley effect

She’s very much aware of life’s little blessings, but there is a huge one out there … and Tammi Reiss is only too happy to acknowledge it.

“I’m just going to say this now because our kids have no idea,” she declared earlier this week. “But as far as Dawn goes, thank God she won’t be on the court. Thank God she’s not playing.”Nurse In A Good Place At The Right Time For Huskies By Rich Elliott

Reiss, the Syracuse University assistant — the one with the hair and the wardrobe, which makes her distinguishable from her boss, Quentin Hillsman, who only has the wardrobe — was speaking of Dawn Staley.

Or, as Reiss describes her, “The greatest point guard of all time. Period.”

Dawn Staley credits Syracuse women’s basketball coach for ‘staying the course’

Staley, an all-time great player at Virginia, credited him for taking a more long-lasting approach toward improvement instead of looking for quick fixes.

“I think for anyone that’s playing this game the sky is the limit. When you do things the right way, you open up doors that historically were closed to the upper echelon of programs,” said Staley, in her eighth season at South Carolina. “I think Q’s done a great job at staying the course. And that’s what you must do.

Syracuse women’s basketball writing own story, but what ending awaits?

Unflappable South Carolina will feel the heat of Syracuse women’s basketball press

2. Washington v. Kentucky

Kentucky will have its hands full with Washington’s Kelsey Plum

Not once this season has Kelsey Plum been held to single digits.

It’s rare that the nation’s third-leading scorer has even been held in the teens.

Opponent after opponent has tried — and failed — to stop Washington’s 5-foot-8 junior scoring dynamo.

3. Stanford v. Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Stanford women facing off in Sweet 16 again

Notre Dame and Stanford aren’t looking at Friday’s game as a rematch, even though they’re meeting in an NCAA women’s regional semifinal for the second straight season.

 Both teams say their rosters have changed since their last matchup, making it hard to read too much into Notre Dame’s 81-60 victory in the 2015 Oklahoma City Regional semifinal. They’ll meet again Friday in the Lexington Regional semifinal. 

“I think we’re both kind of two different teams,” Notre Dame guard Lindsay Allen said.

Numbers tell story of Notre Dame’s hoops journey

Numbers can portray a telling — even compelling story.

And looking at the numbers, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team should be considered a heavy favorite to win this weekend’s NCAA regional at Lexington, Ky.

 Notre Dame presents major obstacle for Stanford women in Sweet 16

If UConn didn’t exist, maybe the women’s college basketball world would be wondering: Can anybody stop Notre Dame?

The past two seasons, the Irish lost in the NCAA final to the Huskies, and most observers expect the same matchup in this year’s championship game in Indianapolis. The Irish, who won the national title in 2001, also reached the final in 2011 and ’12, losing to Texas A&M and Baylor, respectively.

 Fourth-seeded Stanford would love to throw a wrench into the works for the top-seeded Irish when they meet Friday night in the Lexington, Ky., Regional semifinals.

 Australian basketballer Alanna Smith out for NCAA Tournament success with Stanford

Pac-12 living up to its billing in NCAA women’s tournament

Throughout the season, the metrics kept saying the Pac-12 Conference was the best in the country.

When it came time to back it up in the NCAA Tournament, the Pac-12 delivered. 

Pac-12 teams will make up 25 percent of the Sweet 16 when the women’s regional semifinals get started Friday. No. 2 seed Oregon State, No. 3 seed UCLA, No. 4 seed Stanford and No. 7 seed Washington all advanced through the first weekend of the tournament, giving the Pac-12 four teams in the final 16 for the first time in conference history. The league had never advanced more than three teams beyond the first weekend.

4. Tennessee v. Ohio State

AP: Tennessee-Ohio St. Preview

The Lady Vols plan to throw different defensive looks at Mitchell and guard her ”by committee,” coach Holly Warlick said.

”If she gets close to the bench, I’m going to maybe trip her, I’m not sure,” she said, smiling. ”No, I watched her in high school. She’s got a great gift. She knows the game. The ball is a part of her hand. I haven’t seen too many, male or female, come around like her.”

Women’s basketball | Cait Craft’s injury forces Buckeyes to adjust

Another body blow took the breath away from the Ohio State women’s basketball team on the eve of their NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 matchup tonight against Tennessee.

Senior guard Cait Craft suffered a broken left hand in practice this week, which ended her career with the third-seeded and already short-handed Buckeyes.

“Freak thing,” coach Kevin McGuff said. “I really feel badly for her. She is such a great kid, and as a senior, she has put so much into getting us to this point it’s really disappointing for her that she can’t play. It’s a tough break, but it’s ‘next-person-up.’ ”

Ohio State is last Big Ten team standing

Guarding Mitchell will be a full-time, full-team job

Tennessee didn’t need a detailed scouting report to reveal the biggest problem Ohio State will present in Friday night’s Sweet 16 of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. It’s as obvious as Kelsey Mitchell’s stat line.

The Buckeyes 5-foot-8 sophomore guard is averaging 26.3 points per game, has made 40.3 percent of her 308 3-point attempts and has hit 84.6 percent of her free throws.

The stat line becomes even more troublesome for Tennessee when it checks the rearview mirror. As well as its defense has played overall this season, it has been victimized by outstanding individual performances in a number of its losses.

5. Texas v. UCLA

No. 3 UCLA Faces No. 2 Texas

Imani Boyette, Tina Thompson have helped each other blossom this year

Tina Thompson considers Imani Boyette one of the most complex basketball players she has ever met.

Thompson, the former WNBA star who’s in her first season as a Texas assistant coach, casts a large shadow, even over Boyette, the Longhorns’ 6-foot-7 center. In turn, Boyette admits she challenges any coach aspiring to teach her the game. Yet their bond is sealed with mutual respect.

Pac-12 Postseason Storylines: Teams in Sweet 16 mindset

6. Florida State v. Baylor

 Florida State women look to make good on president’s pick

FSU women’s basketball heads to Dallas for Sweet 16 date with Baylor

There’s a different vibe surrounding Florida State’s women’s basketball team.

Head coach Sue Semrau knows it.

The Seminoles (25-7) went into College Station, Texas, and – after shaking off some rust against Middle Tennessee – dominated host Texas A&M in a 74-56 second-round victory. Semrau said she saw a new fire in the eyes of her players when the Seminoles hammered the Aggies.

Baylor knows it won’t be easy, but Bears have motto to motivate getting past Elite Eight

The green wristbands have become a standard wardrobe accessory for the Baylor women’s basketball team.

“Eight is Not Enough” reads the team motto selected by coach Kim Mulkey, a pointed, painful reminder of consecutive NCAA tournament losses in the regional finals, a.k.a. the Elite Eight.

Lady Bears’ success against ranked rivals helps pursuit of championship

7. DePaul v. Oregon State

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers turn attention to DePaul

Sneak peek at DePaul, Oregon State’s Sweet 16 opponent

DePaul travels to Dallas to face Oregon State in Sweet Sixteen

DePaul takes aim at elusive Elite Eight berth

If his career ended today, Doug Bruno would still go down as one of the greatest women’s basketball coaches of all time.

Since he was named head coach at his alma mater in 1976, Bruno has led DePaul to 21 NCAA tournament appearances, including 14 in a row.

On Sunday, the Blue Demons earned a spot in the Sweet Sixteen for just the fourth time in program history after upsetting Louisville 73-72 on their home court.

It’s an enormous feat, but one more win would mark an historic occasion – DePaul’s first ever berth in the Elite Eight.

8. Connecticut v. Mississippi State

MSU next in line to challenge UConn’s 71-game streak

COLUMN: Mississippi State women face unstoppable UConn

Basketball Hall of Fame coach Van Chancellor drawls on and on in superlatives when asked about Geno Auriemma and his Connecticut women’s basketball juggernaut.

Hey, Van, is UConn the most dominant team in sports today?

“Ain’t no question about it,” Chancellor says, by telephone from his Houston home. “There’s nobody else today to compare ’em to. I’d have to go back to the 1927 New York Yankees or John Wooden’s great men’s team at UCLA. That’s how good they are. They are so much better than everyone else in the sport.

The Lady Bulldogs of Mississippi State will take on three time defending champion UCONN in the round of sixteen.

Bulldogs to Face Juggernaut Connecticut in the Sweet Sixteen

Nurse In A Good Place At The Right Time For Huskies

Sophomore guard Kia Nurse underwent her own battle last month. Her focus was not in the right place in a team-first system. It was on scoring. And when she suffered through a scoreless outing at Tulane Feb. 3, her reaction was unexpected for a player wearing a UConn uniform.

“We’re trying to teach our players to kind of act your age,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Like when you’re 15 don’t walk around and act like you’re 20. And when you’re 20 don’t act like you’re 15. So in that Tulane game she acted like a junior high kid. It was embarrassing. Because she shot the ball poorly she became a mess on the bench and everybody saw it. It’s not how you act at Connecticut. And I think it hit her pretty good.’’

Why UCONN Is Most Underappreciated Team In Sports 

The best thing going in basketball isn’t North Carolina or Kansas or Virginia or Michigan State. It’s not even Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, at least for the next couple of weeks.

I’ve lost you already, haven’t I? You’re thinking this must be a joke. Or maybe it’s a trick question.

What could possibly be better than all of that?

How about this: A team that’s too good for its own good. A team so untouchable that we take its success for granted.  A team that has no peer or rival, which ends up making it less interesting to the masses.

The Women’s Beat with Bob Joyce: Sweet 16 To Bridgeport

WNBA: Skylar Diggins talks recovery from injury, move to Dallas in Twitter Q&A

Women’s Basketball History! Denver producing documentary on Wayland Baptist’s women’s basketball team

The legendary women’s basketball team at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, is the focus of a documentary film being produced in Denver. And the Flying Queens are candidates for team induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, with voting Friday and an announcement to be made at the Final Four next week.

Alice “Cookie” Barron and Kaye Garms, teammates with the Flying Queens at a time when they were on their way to a 131-game winning streak, are ecstatic over learning their place as pioneers in women’s basketball hasn’t been forgotten.

“It’s wonderful that they are looking back into the history of women’s college basketball,” Barron said.

Not off topic: The NBA Needs to Move the 2017 All-Star Game From Charlotte. Now. Commissioner Adam Silver has a chance to lead on challenging an ugly piece of discriminatory legislation. Judging by his own words, it’s past time for him to do so.

The 2017 NBA All-Star Game is due to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Silver should announce as soon as possible that this game needs to be moved unless the state legislature overturns its new law set to go in effect April 1 “blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules to grant protections to gay and transgender people.”

The law was passed as a direct response to the City of Charlotte for passing an ordinance to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from being discriminated against by businesses. Outrageously, the North Carolina legislature scheduled an extraordinary special session—the first time they have done so in 35 years—to annul the Charlotte ordinance before it went into effect. It’s remarkable how quickly lawmakers leap to actually do their jobs when the work involves stripping people of their rights. It is also stunning how all of the Dixie paeans to local control and states’ rights go out the window when it comes to issues such as these.

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’cause work’s been busy… and I got to see Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall last night. <BLISS>

Interesting WNIT games on tap tonight!!

Ohio v. Temple

At some point, be it next week, next month or next season, Bob Boldon said everyone is going to finally realize how special a player Kiyanna Black has been for the Ohio University women’s basketball program.

Black, meanwhile, is hoping for one more special performance to keep Ohio’s season alive.

Northern Iowa v. South Dakota

Amy Williams jokingly admits to ‘torturing’ herself on the bus ride home from last Sunday’s win at Minnesota.

She re-watched film from a game back in mid-November.

Her University of South Dakota women’s basketball team had suffered a 21-point loss at Northern Iowa that day, but Williams needed a refresher. Her Coyotes, after all, will host Northern Iowa tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. in the third round of the WNIT.

TCU v. UTEP

TCU is still in this thing.

The Horned Frogs (18-14) will visit UT El Paso at 8 p.m. Thursday in the WNIT’s Round of 16. UTEP (28-4 and 18-0 at home), the Conference USA regular-season champs, spent much of the season hoping for a long run in another postseason tournament before being upended by Old Dominion in the CUSA tourney.

TCU made a first-round exit in the Big 12 tournament but is now one win away from the longest postseason run in program history, in just coach Raegan Pebley’s second year.

WNIT happened:

Michigan (Big Ten) romped over San Diego (WCC), 78-51.

Hofstra (CAA) ended Virginia’s (ACC) post-season, 65-57.

The Hofstra women’s basketball team slayed another power-conference giant Tuesday night in its run through the WNIT, knocking off the University of Virginia 65-57 at the Mack Sports Complex to advance to the team’s first WNIT quarterfinal since 2007.

“What a phenomenal win, not just for Hofstra but for the CAA,” said Hofstra head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey after the game. “It’s a proud moment to be coaching these women here.”

Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun) over Tulane, 73-61.

Motivated by being left out of the NCAA tournament, the Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team continues to make the most of its postseason appearance.

For the third game in a row, FGCU’s offense looked unstoppable at times Wednesday in the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The Eagles used 11 3-pointers and a 27-point third quarter to ease past Tulane, 73-61.

Oregon (Pac12) took down Utah (Pac12), 73-63.

Crap: Cait Craft broke her left hand in practice. Out of NCAA tournament game for

PhewOhio State women’s basketball | Alston back in nick of time

Help: Tennessee’s mission: Slow down OSU’s Mitchell

Growth: Wilson right on track at South Carolina

Height: To post upset, Syracuse women’s basketball needs to cut South Carolina down to size

Jump: Jewell Loyd: Fighting Irish Trying to Clear Their Biggest Hurdle

Audio‘Around the Rim’ podcast: How Sweet 16 it is

Picks: Experts’ picks: Chalk will rule Sweet 16

Conversation: Dishin & Swishin 3/24/16 Podcast: Stephanie White breaks down the Sweet 16

Discuss: NCAA WBB first- and second-round attendance should not be what the postseason is about

Bye: Freshman Taja Cole says she’s leaving Louisville

Bye, too: Virginia Tech fires women’s basketball coach Dennis Wolff

Bye, Bye: Two USU Women’s Basketball Players Leaving Program

Stay: Illinois women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant to return next season

Nebraska: Analyzing why a disappointing season happened and what might change

Read: Olympian and WNBA Star Tamika Catchings Shares Stories of Triumph in New Book

Yup: Djokovic’s jokes about female players’ hormones as damaging to the sport as Moore’s comments

Good: WNBA condemns Raymond Moore’s sexist WTA comments

Cool: The Schimmel sisters visit Fairbanks and the NABT, Nates win title

Sweet: Watch Emma Meesseman practice with a Belgian girls basketball team in her hometown

Forward: UAlbany’s Shereesha Richards prepares for WNBA draft

Forward, too: Jonquel Jones sets stage for high WNBA selection

Hmmm: Rio Olympics 2016: Opals legend Lauren Jackson still under cloud as Belinda Snell cut from squad

Leadership: American Airlines, NCAA, PayPal speak out on NC law restricting LGBT protections

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WHO LET THE DOGS OUT!”

Okay. I’m done. But wow. Something the Prez and I have in common!

Upsets

#12 Albany stuns #5 Florida in comeback NCAA tourney win

The mini-dynasty being built by Katie Abrahamson-Henderson at University of Albany was missing just one thing: a NCAA tournament victory.

No longer.

Times Union:

Down by as many as 16 points and with their star player fouling out with 6:18 remaining, UAlbany rallied to stun Florida 61-59 Friday afternoon in an NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament first-round game at the Carrier Dome.

Portland Press Herald: Carter helps Albany secure upset

Imani Tate and the Albany Great Danes weren’t going to have senior Shereesha Richards’ record-setting career end while sitting on the bench.

And not even an official’s scoring error that gave Florida an extra point was going to stop them.

#10 St. Bonaventure over #7 Oklahoma State, 65-54.

Tulsa World: OSU falls to plucky St. Bonaventure

Time and time again Friday night, the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team made a run at St. Bonaventure in their first-round Women’s NCAA Tournament game at Gill Coliseum.

Each time, the Bonnies had an answer.

The State/AP:

St. Bonaventure didn’t know whether it would be invited to the NCAA Tournament when the field was announced, and chances seemed slim.

On Friday, the Bonnies showed they belonged.

#9 Auburn over #8 St. John’s, 68-57.

Al.com: Freshman Janiah McKay guides Auburn into 2nd round of NCAA Tournament

Behind a career night from Janiah McKay, Auburn advanced to the Round of 32 at the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Friday with a 68-57 win over St. John’s in Waco, Texas.

McKay, a freshman point guard, poured in a career-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting and dished out three assists for the Tigers in the win.

Defense leads Auburn women to NCAA Tournament win over St. John’s

A fantastic defensive start for the Auburn women held up for the remainder of the evening, and it has them bound for the second round.

The ninth-seeded Tigers gave up just six points in the first quarter and Auburn’s patent defensive press forced 25 turnovers to frustrate No. 8 seed St. John’s, ultimately to the tune of a 68-57 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday at the Ferrell Center.

#9 Kansas State over #8 George Washington, 56-51.

The State/AP

Kansas State second-year coach Jeff Mittie entered the year hoping to move the program forward. He and the Wildcats took a big step in that direction Friday with their first NCAA Tournament in four years.

Close: 

#7 Tennessee over #10 Green Bay, 59-53. It took a second half surge to secure the win.

#6 West Virginia over #11 Princeton, 74-65.

#5 Mississippi State over #12 Chattanooga, 60-50.

A good showing

#4 Michigan State over Belmont, 74-60.

Not so close

A horrible first quarter doomed the Black Knights. #4 Syracuse over #13 Army, 73-56.

Not close

Raining threes, #6 Depaul floated over #11 JMU by 30.

Did they play the full fourth? #2 Arizona State over #15 New Mexico State by 22.

Nice first quarter…#3 Ohio State over #14 Buffalo by 19.

At least for a game, life without injured senior guard Ameryst Alston worked out well for Ohio State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on Friday at St. John Arena.

The third-seeded Buckeyes ended the first quarter with a 22-1 run and powered past 14th-seeded Buffalo 88-69 to advance to a second round matchup Sunday against sixth-seeded West Virginia.

#3 Louisville over #14 Central Arkansas, 87-60. Great first quarter for the Sugar Bears, not so good second.

Really not close:

#2 Oregon State over #15 Troy by 42.

#1 Baylor over #16 Idaho State by 3o.

#1 South Carolina over #16 Jacksonville by 36.

Charlie’s Quick Dish: Five observations from opening day

Games I’ve got my eye on tomorrow:

Duquesne/Seton Hall
Purdue/Oklahoma
South Dakota State/Miami
Colorado State/South Florida

WNIT

Utah (Pac12) runs over Montana State (Big Sky), 95-61.

FGCU (A-Sun) soars over Bethune-Cookman (MEAC), 78-51.

Temple (American) snufs out Drexel (A-10), 74-66.

Quinnipiac (MAAC) mauls Maine, 90-44, for their first post-season win in program history.

Fresno State (MW) over Santa Clara (WCC), 59-53.

Some fun games tomorrow:

TCU v. Eastern Michigan, 8pm EST
Drake v. Northern Iowa, 8pm EST
IUPUI v. San Diego, 7pm EST
Villanova v. Hofstra, 6pm EST
Michigan v. Bucknell, 2pm EST

UCLA women’s basketball Coach Cori Close learned from a legend, John Wooden

Cori Close played basketball for UC Santa Barbara and was an assistant coach for 18 years at three different universities before taking over as UCLA‘s coach in 2011.

But her roots at UCLA run deep and are personal.

UCLA was her first stop as an assistant, and it was there she met John Wooden, who became a mentor and confidant.

Awful Announcing: ESPN BROADCASTING GAMES REMOTELY SENDS A BAD MESSAGE FOR NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT COVERAGE

ESPN (and other sports networks) have been broadcasting more and more sporting contests from the studio rather than sending announcers to game sites.  This has become an increasingly popular trend for the networks to save every penny they can while the price of poker goes up, up, and up thanks to soaring rights fees.  While this has traditionally been done with international soccer over the years, we’ve seen it happen with much more frequency for college basketball and college football recently.

This is NOT just the women’s NCAA tourney. If you haven’t been paying attention to ESPN’s irrational exuberance you’ve missed a big story.

From the NY Times: Changing the Rules of the Women’s Game, With the Hope of Altering the Interest Level

Last spring in Indianapolis, the N.C.A.A. women’s basketball rules committee focused on ways to increase the sport’s appeal.

The major changes approved at the meeting provided a face-lift this season. Notably, the two 20-minute halves were changed to four 10-minute quarters in an attempt to improve the flow and quality of games.

Then in January, the W.N.B.A. revamped its playoff system, eliminating conference alignments and creating single-game eliminations through the first two rounds.

Women’s basketball is entering a pivotal time to entice a national audience.

Nylon Calculus: Visualizing WNBA history

Yesterday, at FiveThirtyEight, I waded into the discussion about a gender gap in basketball analytics with a report on the scarcity and fragility of data in women’s college basketball. I received a lot of comments about how the lack of public data in women’s basketball, both college and the NBA, is a reflection of a lack of demand. The argument was that if there was an audience for the data than leagues and media companies would provide it for their fans and customers.

Frankly, I think that perception is backwards. An increase in data sparks curiosity and drives demand.

BTW – Data fuels the fantasy leagues. (Something the W needs to have, because it fuels interest in the ENTIRE league).

No. Why WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne wants to lower the rims from 10 feet

From the .com: Senior Watch: Top WNBA Draft Prospects in the NCAA Tournament

Hello! LA Sparks hire Flint native Tonya Edwards as assistant coach

Whoa. Sanchez out as UNM Lobos women’s basketball coach

Following up on some high school news: Rutgers Prep has arrived as a true state power

The Rutgers Prep School girls basketball program is no stranger to success, having won 10 state Prep B titles and five Somerset County Tournament championships during head coach Mary Klinger’s 32 years at the helm, a run that’s earned her 519 career victories. But when the decision was made for the Argonauts to join the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association prior to the 2013-14 season, perhaps the biggest draw was the opportunity for the tiny Franklin Township school to show the rest of the state that Rutgers Prep was perfectly capable of running with the big dogs.

Less than three years later, with the program’s first sectional and group titles already in hand, the Argonauts have not only proven that fact, but thanks to a special group of players who have progressed as individual athletes and teammates, Rutgers Prep is well within striking distance of the state’s most prestigious hoops prize.

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(Becomes Monday! Monday! Monday! – and I’m home again Finnegan…)

But it was Saturday that saw some surprises.

Just as I say something nice about #17 Oklahoma State, they get upset by TCU, 79-65.

Just as I say something nice about Central Michigan, they meet challenger Toledo and lose, 81-79.

Penguins forget how to score and get upset by Cleveland State, 53-43.

Hampton got upset by Coppin State , which hurts their MEAC regular season championship prospects.

Crusin’ Mercer got crushed by Chattanooga, 67-43.

Southern squeaks by SWAC title challenger Alabama State, 57-55.

Costal Carolina (5-11, Big South) snuffed the Flames, 58-61. First time since February 19, 1996.

In the battle of South Dakota, it was a wild fourth quarter by both teams. Coyotes take down the Jackrabbits, 80-71, and have their eye on the regular season prize.

In the battle of Montana, the Griz upset the Bobcats, 70-66.

Who misses Ms. Jones? George Washington. They fall to VCU, 79-68.

(Now ranked) Colorado State needed a big fourth quarter to overcome Wyoming, and stay perfect in the Mountain West, 62-57.

Always keepin’ it interesting in the WCC: Pacific surprises Gonzaga in OT, 84-83. And BYU women’s basketball wins its first WCC regular-season championship

Tennessee-Martin makes a statement about who rules the OVC, stifling SIU-Edwardsville, 86-50.

Charlotte built a nice lead and held on to upset the Hilltoppers, 81-72.

They went back and forth by quarters, but it was UC Riverside that ended up with the win over UC Davis. The Highlanders are now 12-0 in the Big West.

If UC Riverside’s women’s basketball Highlanders pull this off, it’s going to be quite the narrative. Not sure if you could sell it as a movie script, although it certainly seemed to work in “Hoosiers.”

UCR remains undefeated in the Big West, running its record to 11-0 in conference and 18-7 overall following an 83-58 thumping of Long Beach State Thursday evening at the Rec Center.

The Highlanders did so with seven available players.

While I was working my way home, Sunday happened. All the ranked teams pretty much held serve, except

…for that pesky Florida. Nice win for Joni Taylor and Georgia, but what is up with the Gators?

..and #24 Tennessee. The Vols have a habit of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. This time, LSU was the beneficiary. The loss meant Tennessee dropped out of the polls for the first time in forever. Mechelle says Tennessee must focus on present, and future

The juxtaposition of so much going right for the Huskies and the difficulties facing the Lady Vols is an unpleasant thing for Tennessee fans. There is no other way to put it. There was a time not so long ago when UConn and Tennessee were both ahead of the rest of women’s basketball.

Since Tennessee ended the series after the 2007 season, the two programs haven’t met. Tennessee won its eighth title in 2008, but hasn’t been back to the Women’s Final Four since. UConn hasn’t missed a Final Four since 2007.

Alas, what Tennessee has to do now, though, is focus on trying to play as well as possible for the two games left in the regular season, the SEC tournament, and the NCAA tournament, which they still are projected to make.

Rachel B proves it wasn’t a fluke, going for 52  (and Kobe liked it) but, unfortunately, in a losing cause. Likely we won’t see her in the NCAA tournament… unless the Gophers can pull off the huge Big 10 Conference Championship upset.

It’s a tough year to be a Tar Heel fan…

Speaking of which, it’s been a tough year to be a Blue Devil fan…

Ouch. Butler upsets St. John’s, 62-58.

Double ouch. That was a disappointing Pac-12 season for Cal.

Squeak! Abilene Christian escaped Southeastern Louisiana (4-21, 3-11), 72-70.

In other news:

Out of Austin, THIS WNBA LEGEND MAY BE THE KEY TO THE TEXAS WOMEN’S HOOP DREAMS

Salt Lake: Utah women’s basketball: Dani Rodriguez always willing to assist

A story leaps to mind for Cynthia Rodriguez of her daughter, Dani, finding $30 on the ground at a market near their Downey, Calif., home.

To a third-grader, that’s a fortune, so she kept the cash close. But the next day at the same market, a woman was begging for money.

Dani, in her youthful wisdom, gave her fortune away.

“I asked her why she gave the money to that woman, and she said, ‘I found it it, and I didn’t need it,’ ” Cynthia recalled of their conversation afterward. ” ‘She needed it more than I did.’ “

As a senior point guard, Danielle Rodriguez’s capacity to give to others is tallied up: She’s dished out 429 assists in her career, the fifth-most in school history. But many of her good works off the court are being brought to light as she’s one of 10 women’s basketball players named to the AllState WBCA Good Works Team, which highlights the community service of student-athletes.

Columbus: Ohio State seniors face final home game

The instant that Cait Craft cut to the basket on Thursday night in Value City Arena, Ameryst Alston delivered a bounce pass in traffic so seamlessly that the two Ohio State senior guards appeared connected by some second sense.

The assist and the layup became a sentence within a paragraph of a story four seasons in the writing, and explained why each would describe her feelings as “bittersweet” heading into the pair’s final home game with the Buckeyes today against Illinois.

“It went by so fast,” Alston said. “I tell the young ones, enjoy the moment because it goes by so fast.”

Norman: OU women’s basketball: Sherri Coale talks about the consistency problem

Tallahassee: Brothers’ deaths helped shape Florida State’s Adut Bulgak

Adut Bulgak has the name of her late brothers — Deng Atem and Bul Atem — on each shoe.

The 6-foot-4 center for No. 10 Florida State is one of the top seniors in women’s college basketball, averaging 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. She will graduate in May with a degree in sociology, likely be selected in the WNBA Draft and try out for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.

For some, that much going on could be overwhelming, but not for the 23-year-old.

“I built a tougher mentality because I had some terrible things happen to me just like other people have,” she said.

Were you wondering What To Expect When USA Basketball Trains This Week In Storrs? How about Sights and Sounds from Day 1 of #USABWNT Training Camp

Or the 20th season of the W: Refreshed, stronger Diana Taurasi still at the peak of her profession

The shorthand way of describing why Diana Taurasi did not play the 2015 WNBA season for Phoenix was that she took off the summer to rest.

Except that’s not exactly what happened.

“I did three months of heavy working out in the summer, Monday through Friday, just weekends off,” Taurasi said Sunday at the first day of USA Basketball’s national team training camp. “I didn’t necessarily take any basketball time off. But I got to work on things I needed to work on, strength-wise, stability-wise.”

In other words, last summer wasn’t about just taking a breather and texting snarky comments to motivate Mercury teammate Brittney Griner (although she did both).

Good news: Being an athlete helps Chameka Scott, Tiffany Jackson-Jones in their battles with cancer

 

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Score! Scoring 60 points still seems surreal to Gophers guard Rachel Banham (Speaking of surreal: Kobe Bryant congratulates UMN’s Rachel Banham for her 60-point game). Yah, it took double OT, but wowza. The Star Tribune says: Appreciate the Gophers’ Rachel Banham while you still can

Said Stollings:

“I think one of the big things is we only have three home games left, and we have one of the most special players to ever wear a Minnesota uniform in Rachel Banham. I think people shouldn’t miss an opportunity to see her in one of these final three home games. She’s a rarity. Players like her don’t come around that often.”

Yes, I mentioned Charlotte Smith’s Elon, and they won, so that means they escaped the WHB jinx…. but what’s with 66 total points in a double-OT game? Oh. I see – a Top 10 on Sports Center

A strong final quarter helped Notre Dame escape Louisville, 66-61.

Three freshmen and a pair of sophomores had the floor Sunday when, near the end of the first half, 13,847 at the KFC Yum! Center rose to their collective feet.

Louisville’s women’s basketball team upped its lead to nine points on No. 3 Notre Dame, the surest sign yet during a lengthy winning streak the Cardinals are a budding national power.

Talented yet inexperienced, however, youth showed itself down the stretch of a 66-61 Irish win.

Well, the MVC is going to be tight. Drake knocks off Missouri State to squeak into the top spot. Don’t look now, but Loyola (CHI) is still a contender.

A feeble final quarter doomed Tennessee against TAMU. It allowed the Aggies to get to overtime and grab a win, 76-71. More importantly: Jordan Jones released from hospital, X-Rays and CT scan results normal

The Crimson tied it up against the Tigers and sent their game to OT… but couldn’t topple Princeton, 92-83.

DUCK(s) upset the Huskies courtesy of a 35-point fourth quarter (seems to be going around).

Ouch (if you’re USC): A three-point play with 1.9 seconds left gave #8 Arizona State a win over USC, 69-68.

St. John’s won the Tri-State Battle over Seton Hall, 72-64.

George Washington is still missing Jonquel Jones (5th game)… but they’re back to their winning ways.

Defense was optional in the Maryland v. Ohio State, which made it wicked fun. The Buckeyes scored more, so they’re now atop the Big Ten.

Ohio State fans looking for March basketball, you have a team.

It’s a confident, up-tempo team on the attack with a dynamic one-two scoring punch and multiple options on the inside and perimeter who can score when defenses focus on stars Kelsey Mitchell and Ameryst Alston. 

It’s a swarming defensive pressure team that can slap on a press and maintain it, forcing opponents to play their game at their speed (smaller and faster) even when that opponent is a top-10 mainstay and one of the best rebounding teams in the country.

It’s the best team in the Big Ten, no doubt.

Double boink: St. Francis (PA) makes sure Bryant loses two in a row, 85-72.

Make that TWO IN A ROW: Norfolk State over Maryland Eastern Shore, 74-63.

Wow: Howard (4-18, 2-7) stuns MEAC leading Hampton in OT, 83-77.

Interesting: Manhattan beat Marist (who was missing sixth-year senior Tori Jarosz), 64-59.

Surprise! 

Bobbie Kelsey created something of an Internet firestorm a couple weeks ago when she went on a little rant about her University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team’s need to get its collective butts in the gym to work on its shooting.

While that postgame monologue after a loss at Nebraska attracted widespread attention, it was a variation on a theme that has been consistent throughout Kelsey’s five years at UW.

And Monday night, it appeared to finally pay some dividends as the Badgers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 64-57 Big Ten Conference victory over Purdue before a crowd of 3,149 at the Kohl Center.

So, yeah, there was this game in Columbia….

UConn coach Gene [Hello, autocorrect?] Auriemma smiled at his three senior starters, savoring the latest virtuoso performance on the big stage by Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson — and fretting about their departure next season.

“I carry five cellphones now with all the coaches who want to schedule us next year when these guys leave,” Auriemma said Monday night.

Count South Carolina coach Dawn Staley among them after Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson combined for 53 points in No. 1 UConn’s 66-54 blowout of the second-ranked Gamecocks.
Garnet and Black Attack: Gamecocks fall 66-54
Hartford Courant: UConn Women 66, South Carolina 54: Happy Geno Means Happy Huskies; Other Things Learned
New Haven Regiser: Big 3 lead No. 1 UConn past No. 2 South Carolina
New Britain Herald: UConn women’s basketball quiets South Carolina for easy win
Hartford Courant: Jeff Jacobs: Huskies’ Road Show Is A Beauty To Behold
Hartford Courant: UConn Women’s Notebook: Geno Has Great Admiration For Dawn Staley
UConn Daily Campus: Women’s Basketball: Huskies shine under bright South Carolina lights

Those who call it “boring” get schooled: Breanna Stewart’s shot at history

Yea! IU GLBT Alumni Association to host annual Pride Day in support of IU women’s basketball

Congrats! Hope women’s basketball gives coach Brian Morehouse 500th career win

Congrats! Tom Shirley wins 700th career game as women’s basketball defeats Dominican (N.Y.) 59-54

In W news:

Keep up with who’s going where and when…you can count down the W draft or get update on free agency at Today’s Fastbreak.

Congrats! Former Lee’s Summit star Danielle Adams chosen to NJCAA women’s basketball hall of fame

Say it ain’t so! Aussie star Taylor set for WNBA swansong

WATN? Simone Edwards: Simone4children Foundation Needs Base

“In Hermitage, I got a building put up there for the homework programme. It was running and everyone was working. It’s a place where we had our homework programme, fed families, gave back-to-school supplies, tried to create scholarships and focused on self-esteem building. But what we do is mostly focus on education, but now it (building) is damaged,” said Edwards.

“Last year, I went down there, and some of the bad men broke the lock off the door, stole furniture, the stove and damaged the windows. The homework programme is continuing in the church, but the last I heard is that the new pastor wanted it off the property,” she told The Gleaner.

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Honestly, why do you bother? You get a UConn game on your channel, thousands of Husky fans realize you exist and desperately look for you… and then you bring out Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) – someone who 1) Doesn’t do his homework (ummm, have you checked out how many upsets happened in the last week?) 2) Doesn’t know his facts (ummm, have you checked out UConn’s SOS?) 3) and DISRESPECTS the women’s game… *smh, surprised that Swin didn’t smack HIS head*

Doug, honey, if you’re worried about a sport that is diluted, where folks don’t play competitive games and is parity-free, let me quote a wise observer from Miami who suggests you check out college football: “Alabama and their ilk go 13-1 outscoring their opponents 2.3 to 1. They just beat the #3 ranked team 38-0. At least women’s basketball is a little competitive!”

Not quite yet: #6 Baylor rumbled in to Longhorn territory, grabbed an early lead an never let go, sending #4 Texas to its first loss of the season.

The Texas women’s basketball team lost on Sunday.

On the court. In the press conference. Inside their minds. Everywhere it counts.

Except in the Erwin Center stands, where 8,996 fans — the largest crowd of the season — convened to watch the fourth-ranked Longhorns’ breakthrough moment this season.

But that moment didn’t come.

ACK! #15 TAMU had overtime against #2 South Carolina in its sight, courtesy of a spectacular pass/lay in and then… brain freeze: foul the inbounder and Sessions seals a one-point win for the Gamecocks. Staley speaks.

Too muchToo much firepower: #5 Ohio State gave Purdue its first in-conference loss, 90-70.

“We started the game with a much better sense of urgency,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “We talked about it. We were going to need it. Purdue is a really good team. If we didn’t show up today, it wasn’t going to go our way.”

Not this game: #8 Maryland poured it on in the first half against Northwestern and never looked back.

Not pretty, but we’ll take it: #9 Kentucky over Auburn, 54-47.

Perhaps Kentucky fans should start sending Sonya Murray some residential listings in the Lexington area.

With her mom in Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Taylor Murray had career highs in points and steals and helped lead the No. 9 Cats to a 54-47 victory over Auburn.

“She has next-level speed that is unlike most people on the floor,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said of the freshman guard. “That’s a great weapon for us.

12 straight: #10 Arizona State used strong first and third quarters to show Utah the door, 80-60. Nice piece on Utes coach Lynne Roberts.

As much as Lynne Roberts loved sports as a youngster, Don Roberts never expected his only daughter to make a living in athletics.

“She was always a very strong person, had a lot of personality and a lot of drive,” he said. “But she was always going into science. There was never an idea of being a coach. It was never talked about.”

A lot of local women’s basketball fans are grateful that somewhere in her college basketball career, her passion to compete and her ability to teach persuaded the history major to pursue a career in a much misunderstood and often maligned profession.

Those most grateful for her choice are likely the Utah players who are exceeding the expectations of almost everyone — except their first-year coach.

0-29 no more: Beavers over Trees. #12 Oregon State got the win over #11 Stanford on the merits of a comeback. Feels like OSU is learning from its games… and if Sydney Wiese can return….

#16 Florida State kept the Panthers defeated in the ACC, 66-55.

So, yah, this Pac12 is a thing: #17 UCLA escapes Washington State, 75-73.

See above, as #25 USC didn’t escape Kelsey Plum and her 32 points. Washington wins, 69-60.

There wasn’t anything anyone could do to stop this second-half comeback.

After an abysmal first half, which preceded a “crazy” halftime outburst from typically mellow coach Mike Neighbors, the Washington women’s basketball team rallied to beat No. 25 USC, 69-60, Sunday afternoon to complete a weekend sweep of the ranked L.A. schools at home.

 The Huskies (14-4) have won three in a row and sit in third place in the Pac-12 at 5-2. This week, they could also find themselves ranked in The Associated Press poll for the first time since 2003. 

It was close early, but then the #19 Bulls pulled away from the Pirates, 75-54.

Is the SEC allergic to scoring? #20 Florida had to rally with 20 in the 4th to defeat LSU, 53-45.

Make that 200: Katie Meier and #21 Miami get the win over UNC, 76-61, to reach the win milestone. Rats: Xylina McDaniel, a four-year starter for North Carolina, will miss the rest of the season because of an ACL.

Bounce back: #22 Duke made sure they didn’t lose two games in a row, and BC stays winless in the ACC, 71-51.

“I think that the team is beginning to understand what it takes to prepare and to really get themselves in a good space in which to play. The team was very fun to coach today because there was activity everywhere,” McCallie said. “You love it if you have to turn down instead of turn up. If anything today, I was turning down things and that makes for a really good team performance.”

Moore, Moore, Moore: Mariya, that is. It took all of Moore’s 31 points to help #23 #23 Louisville escape the Wolf Pack, 92-90.

“It’s a win. Now, am I pleased? No,” said Cardinals coach Jeff Walz. “We got extremely lucky. In my opinion, we got out-played. NC State deserved to win that game, but unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, we had a few bounces at the end that went our way.”

Hog Heaven: That’s three wins over Top 25 teams in 10 days for Arkansas.

Albany and Stony Brook still share the America East top spot (1/21, y’all). Speaking of Albany: Shereesha Richards’ next stop likely to be WNBA

The Bonnies.

“You see what our players have been doing on the floor, but what most didn’t see is all the time they put in during the spring, summer and fall,” Crowley said of his team. “Now they’re being rewarded for it. There’s a long way to go and we try to stay focused on what’s next. If you don’t do that in this league, things can go away quickly.”

GW over the Dukes: 

George Washington 6-foot-4 forward Jonquel Jones led all players with 23 points, 18 rebounds and 7 blocks, giving the Dukes fits down low.

“In my 19 years of Division I, she’s got to be one of the 10 or 12 best players,” Burt said.

Farleigh Dickinson (2-3) went on a tear in the second half, giving Robert Morris (4-1) their first NEC defeat.

“It certainly was a disappointing effort on our part,” Robert Morris coach Sal Buscaglia said. “All the credit has to go to Fairleigh Dickinson. They played harder over the 40 minutes, and when we tied the game in the second half, they responded and we didn’t.

In a Big South show down, it was Gardner-Webb squeaking out a 2-point win over UNC Asheville, 58-56. Of note: the Bulldogs were missing two starters (center K.J. Weaver and point guard Ja’Da Brayboy)

Chattanooga is feeling right at home in the Southern.

It was, no surprise, a tough one, but Ohio managed to squeak out a 2-pt OT win over Central Michigan, 86-84, thanks to Kiyanna Black’s career high 39.

Troy is looking strong in the Sun Belt. Congrats to senior guard Ashley Beverly Kelley, whose current career total (1,621) is the most by a player in Troy’s 23-year Division I history. I might mention that coach Chanda Rigby seems poachable…. The program won just two games in 2011-12, the season prior to Rigby’s arrival, and has most recently won 20 games in 2014-15.

No jinx, please, but that is three wins in the Big West for Santa Barbara.

Congrats! EKU to honor women’s basketball great Lisa Goodin and first NCAA tournament team. Goodin is in the Indiana Basketball HOF. At EKU

Goodin, who played for Eastern from 1980 to 1984, is the all-time leading scorer in EKU women’s basketball history with 1,920 career points. The guard from Austin, Indiana is second in program history in field goals made, free throws made and free throw percentage (87.4 percent).  She is fifth in assists (374) and 10th in steals (182).

A sharpshooter with consistent accuracy, she led the NCAA in free throw percentage as both a freshman (.897) and junior (.910).

Stop this: Fight involving players and fans halts girls basketball game in Indiana

It’s been a while since it felt like a coach’s job was in the balance before a game. Elzy tries to calm fans:

“The fans were disappointed that we lost (to Arkansas),” Elzy said. “We were disappointed as well. We have a responsibility to uphold the legacy and play the Lady Vol way, which we did not against Arkansas. I know for the fans, right now, it seems like it’s over. It’s not over. It’s a long year.”

Elzy urged Tennessee fans not to panic despite the disappointing loss to the Razorbacks.

OT: Listening to John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey spin discs on Radio Deluxe is musical heaven.

 

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“So what’d I miss?

A little Fresno, Frisco, Flooding and Fever threw me off my game this week. Wheeee!

Some interesting, interesting stuff happening on the boards. Obviously, the folks who say there are no upsets in women’s basketball are looking more and more like the uniformed idjits they are. That being said, if some of the upsets aren’t setting of alarm bells in the Athletic Director’s offices, I’d be disappointed… but not surprised.

Let us count the upsets – and note how many unranked teams were involved:

Indiana over #18 Michigan State, 81-65. Lesson: It would be nice if local papers paid attention to Moren’s team:

“As I expressed to our players tonight, I hope this win gives them a dose of confidence,” head coach Teri Moren said. “And they believe when they communicate, when they stay connected defensively, when they hit shots—they’re going to be in the game and win a lot of ball games. That’s my hope that this win gives our kids a shot in the arm that they can play with the best teams in the Big Ten…I’m just really, really proud.”

Northwestern over #5 Ohio State, 86-82. Lesson: You’ve got to play four quarter, youngsters.

Northwestern brought Ohio State back to earth on Thursday night in Evanston, Ill., with a thud that sent ripples around Lake Michigan.

The Wildcats jumped to a 48-30 halftime lead and withstood a late comeback by the fifth-ranked Buckeyes to hand them an 86-82 defeat at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Buckeyes (12-4, 4-1) and knocked them out of a tie with Purdue for the Big Ten lead.

Arkansas over #13 Tennessee, 64-59. Lesson:  Whatever the upheavals outlined by Mechelle, it’s fair to point a finger at Holly.

Let’s be clear…this was a bad team at 7-10.

And with the No. 146 ranked defense, No. 155 in field goal percentage defense, Tennessee responded with another atrocious shooting night.

The Vols shot worse than 35 percent from the field and below 30 percent from beyond the arc. In general women’s basketball, that’s okay.

But it’s not okay when you’re Tennessee and you have the talent. While there’s only one senior starter, there are two three-year players and another four-year player in the lineup. So the excuses are running thin, and Warlick’s misuse of her team’s strengths is evident.

Georgia over #20 Florida, 71-61. Lesson: Nice time to get your first SEC win, coach Taylor. (Gotta fix the Georgia page, though. A.nnoy.ing!

NC State over #22 Duke, 65-62. Lesson: There may be some changes in the ACC: The win improved the Wolfpack to 13-5 and more importantly 4-1 in ACC play, while Duke fell to 12-6 and 1-3.

2015-16 has been a record-setting season to date for Duke Women’s Basketball, in all the worst possible ways. Duke lost to an unranked opponent at home for the first time since 2002 (when an Iciss Tillis flub at the end of the Duke Classic championship game led to an overtime loss to South Carolina). Tonight the Blue Devils lost to the Wolfpack Women in Cameron for the first time since 1996, when Chasity Melvin led her team to a win. In this contest, NC State rode a 30-11 edge in points off turnovers to edge Duke, 65-62. This loss will no doubt drop #22 Duke (12-6, 1-3 ACC) out of the rankings for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

Washington over #17 UCLA, 64-56. Lesson: The Pac12 teams are like the Old Big East teams: Not to be dismissed.

[Talia] Walton’s performance Friday night — 22 points and six rebounds in 39 minutes — went a long way toward helping legitimize the Huskies’ hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season. The win was the first for UW (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12) against a ranked opponent this season.

“When she plays like this,” Plum said, “we can beat anyone.”

Washington State over #25 USC, 73-61. Lesson: Pac12 means No. games. off.

“We just lost our focus,” head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. “We didn’t come out ready to play and they outplayed us. They hustled more and just played better than us.”

Oklahoma State over #14 Oklahoma, 73-42. Lesson: Who knows WHAT is going on in Stillwater? The Cowgirls just came off a 47-44 loss to Kansas. Perhaps all games should be listed as “Bedlam” games?

#24 Missouri over #7 Mississippi State, 88-54. Lesson: Get out fast.

Missouri’s hot start was a stark contrast compared to its two other games this season against ranked opponents. The Tigers trailed Tennessee 24-11 less than 10 minutes into a 71-55 loss on Jan. 4 and trailed South Carolina 25-10 just more than 13 minutes into Sunday’s 83-58 loss.

Thursday’s result could prove to be a big one for a Missouri team seeking its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006.

With conference play in full swing, here are some teams deserving of your attention:

Albany (45-0) sits atop the America East and Shereesha Richards broke the 2,000-point milestone. They play Stony Brook (4-0) on the 21st. When is someone going to poach coach Abrahamson-Henderson?

Bucknell is making a run at the Patriot League title. With their win over Colgate, the Bison start 6-0 in league play for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, remain all alone in first place in the Patriot League, win its sixth straight game, the longest streak of the Roussell era and the program’s longest streak since 2006-07 and Improve to 61-47 in Aaron Roussell’s four years as head coach. I’ve got my eyes looking forward to their game against Army, Jan 30th.

St. Bonaventure (5-0). Couple of years ago they were darlings, then they had a tough year. Now, hello! 

This year’s Atlantic 10 preseason polls didn’t think much of St. Bonaventure University. The guys picked 8th.

“Eighth is the second highest we’ve been picked in my nine years here so we looked at it as a compliment,” said St. Bonaventure Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mark Schmidt.

The ladies’ team picked 9th.

Senior forward Katie Healy said, “Nobody saw what we put in this summer, all the work, all the hours we put in. Both teams, now in first place and combined, are 25-5 to start the year. That’s never happened before.”

While it might be the guys’ best start in 16 years, for the ladies, it’s their best start ever.

The Bonnies other A-10 compatriots are no slouches. Duquesne who, for the first time in program history, was ranked in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll, will take their 15-game winning to ESPNU (Sue Bird & Melissa Lee on the call) on Sunday. They’ll face George Washington, who has won nine in a row. (Speaking of poachable coaches…Tsipis)

Ohio – the 3-time MAC champs are looking for a fourth title. In a matchup of two poachable coaches (Bolden & Verdi), the Bobcats defeated their 2015 MAC Tournament Championship game opponent, Eastern Michigan, 71-64.

Abilene Christian (4-0) continues to win in the Southland.

Colorado State (4-0) has already defeated San Jose State. Fresno State (4-0) defeated them today. They don’t play each other until March 1st. Who scheduled only one regular season game between these two teams?

Swoopes, there it is: Chicago (Loyola) is 4-0 in the MVC.

Purdue (5-0). We’ve been calling their name. Let’s see what they’ve got: OSU tomorrow.

Green Bay (5-0) faces Wright State (4-0) on the 23rd. Winner stays #1 in the Horizon. Loser may have to wait for the rematch end of February.

Montana State (5-0). Maybe John Stockton is a good assistant coach, huh? They play 4-0 Eastern Washington on the 21st.

Sienna (7-0) in the MAAC and its best start in 14 years. But, don’t get to cocky – and never count the Foxes out. Marist they held on to give Iona its first conference loss, 62-61.

Western Kentucky (5-0) continues its resurgence under coach Michelle Clark-Heard (poachable!).

The WCC!!! 5-1, 5-1, 5-1, 4-2. ’nuff said.

I’m keeping an eye on the NBE.  While it’s been tough times for Seton Hall, St. John’s and Xavier are on a roll.

Is it too early to suggest Muffet McGraw as COY? Her competition, if the continue to improve, would be Louisville’s Walz. Both are, is sports-speak, “coachin’ their team up.

Did I jinx the Tribe?

Just sayin’ – Utah is 4-1 in the PAC 12.

Upcoming games to keep an eye on:

The aforementioned George Washington v. Duquesne.

The oft mentioned #4 Texas v. #6 Baylor, 3:30 on ESPN2.

South Carolina is 4-0 in the wacky SEC. They’ll face TAMU at 1:30 on ESPN2

Purdue at #5 Ohio State, 2pm.

#23 Louisville v. North Carolina State – who keeps up their momentum?

#24 Missouri v. Arkansas…. see above.

#17 UCLA v. Washington State. Does WSU continue to show how dicey the Pac12 is?

Speaking of: #11 Stanford v. #10 Oregon State. 

#22 Duke v. Boston College. How do the Blue Devils react?

#10 Arizona v. Utah. How legit are the Utes?

MLK Day

#13 Tennessee v. #3 Notre Dame, 7pm ESPN2. Will the Vols’ good game-bad game-good game pattern continue?

In other news:

Florida: UF women’s basketball surging thanks to talent infusion

Snap: Jackie Young breaks Indiana girls basketball scoring record

Through four seasons on the floor, Princeton girls basketball star Jackie Young has attacked the opposition and record books, steadily climbing up the scoring charts.

Now she’s in the record books.

A large crowd gathered Thursday night to see Young make history, including two players from the 1976 undefeated Hoosiers basketball team. 

A free throw late in the fourth quarter of the game against Wood Memorial landed her one point ahead of former record-holder Shanna Zolman.

Aztec girls basketball team aiming for championship, community revival

Most of the awards that decorate the glass cases at Aztec High School’s gymnasium have something to do with football.

The Tigers are best known for being able to push a pigskin ball down a football field but in the last year or so, they’ve had to make room for a new group of athletes that the school just wasn’t used to.

Over the last several years, the Aztec High School girls’ basketball team has emerged from the bottom of the local basketball barrel and into the spotlight.

Their newfound success is something Aztec junior Kairai George isn’t used to.

Congrats! West Bridgewater girls basketball coach notches 600th win

Congrats! DePaul’s Doug Bruno gets 600th win

Former WNBA President Orender gives insight into gender in sports

Candace Parker interview: ‘The hardest thing I’ve had to overcome…’

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Under an enormous amount of scrutiny – both by the Secret Service and by grumpy Committee bashers – the #8 Tigers and #9 Phoenix put together a nice game. Princeton dominated the boards and nailed their free throws to secure their first NCAA tourney win.

Courtney Banghart had seen it once too often. It was not much more than a year ago and one more time than she could stomach watching Annie Tarakchian, then a sophomore, catch the ball in good position near the basket, hold the ball over her head and look to pass without ever showing the slightest inclination to propel a strong frame to the basket.

“Annie is about the most gentle soul on this earth, and she’s really kind,” Banghart said. “Those two, gentle and kind, are not great inside the lines. Inside the lines for the first year and a half at Princeton she was gentle and kind.”

So when Tarakchian was passive one too many times in practice before a key road trip to Harvard and Dartmouth a season ago, Princeton already in a hole in the Ivy League race by then, Banghart whistled proceedings to a halt and delivered a simple rebuke. 

It wasn’t just the Tigers who were roaring.

If you recall, Susie McConnell-Serio’s team opened the season rather inauspiciously. That’s all forgotten as #10 Pitt Panthers produced a HUGE win for the program as they upset #7 Chattanooga, 51-40.

“Walking up to hal court at the end of the game I said to him, ‘This is bittersweet,’ because I have so much respect for him,” she said. “I think he is one of the best coaches in the game, and I’m so happy that he’s still coaching because he just has so much to offer to his players.

“So as happy as I am for our team and our program, it was hard to look at him as I was shaking his hand.”

It’s fly like an Eagle time, as #7 FGCU defeats #10 Oklahoma State, 75-67. They move into the second round for the first time in program history.

Smesko said the men’s team’s run two years ago has been “fantastic” bringing recognition for the school, located on the outskirts of Fort Myers, in southwest Florida.

“We’ve been right on the precipice for a long time,” Smesko said. “We know our next game is going to be against one of the very best teams in the country.”

#13 Liberty has been a hard-nosed program for a while – as #4 North Carolina quickly re-discovered – but the Tar Heels pulled out the win.

 Latifah Coleman and Allisha Gray weren’t going to let Sylvia Hatchell’s return to the NCAA Tournament end so soon.

Gray scored 17 points and Coleman had 15 to lead North Carolina past Liberty 71-65 on Saturday in the first round of the Greensboro Region.

The fourth-seeded Tar Heels (25-8) shot 49 percent, led by 14 and withstood the Flames’ late push to give their Hall of Fame coach a victory in her return to the NCAA Tournament after a year away to fight leukemia.

“This whole week, I have been so stressed out,” Hatchell said. “It’s a good stressed because I’m so excited about the tournament.”

Taking lessons from their football team, #15 Boise State was not intimidated by #2 Tennessee – even on their home court. In the end, the Vols escaped the Broncos.

The Lady Vols were clinging to a 63-58 lead after Boise State’s Camille Redmon made the front end of a one-and-one with 2:51 remaining. But Redmon missed her second free throw, and Tennessee’s Ariel Massengale sank a 3-pointer 13 seconds later to spark a game-clinching 8-0 run.

“I’m satisfied we got the W, but we could do much better,” Graves said. “Our one-on-one defense has got to be tight right now. This is crunch time.”

Coach Trakh can be proud of the effort of his #16 New Mexico State team against host, and #1 seed, Maryland. The Terps ruled the Aggies, 75-57.

Maryland center Brionna Jones could only giggle at the comparison.

“Like PT boats attacking a battleship,” New Mexico State coach Mark Trakh said in describing the destruction the 6-foot-3 Jones inflicted on his shorter, slighter players as top-seeded Maryland won its NCAA tournament opener Saturday.

All season, the Terps have won by continually switching guises. As if to prove that versatility, they beat New Mexico State with a bruising inside attack in the first half and a barrage of jumpers in the second.

#12 James Madison and #5 Ohio State gave us the Debbie Antonelli Special, with the Buckeyes emerging victorious, 90-80.

The Buckeyes — who started three freshmen and bring sophomore Shayla Cooper off the bench — shot 58 percent in the second half and scored on seven consecutive possessions down the stretch.

“Obviously, when you get to this time of the year (and) you have kids who have experienced it, that can be beneficial,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “But I also think for kids who haven’t, then have that youthful energy and that passion to be a part of it. … That can take you a long way.”

#12 Quinnipiac and #5 Oklahoma gave us the second DAS, combining for 97 points in the first half and 99 in the second. Sooners scored more, so they win and move into the next round.

When the Sooners were 5-5 in non-conference play earlier this season, it was tough imagining them making the NCAA Tourament, much less imagining them winning a game in it. But after finishing in second place in the Big 12, Oklahoma came ready to play in the NCAA Tournament. Their 111 points against Quinnipiac showed that despite their lack of experience you should never count out a Sherri Coale coached basketball team.

Sun Belt champ Arkansas-Little Rock battled #6 Texas A&M wire-to-wire, then the #11 seed made good on the upset, 69-60, earning coach Joe Foley his 700th win.

“Tops right now,” he said. “Top game. It’s unbelievable, playing against a friend, playing in the NCAA tournament. It was fun. And to play as well as we did. We played great, and we deserved it.”

Taylor Gault scored a season-high 25 points, Kiera Clark added a career-best 22 and 11th-seed UALR beat sixth-seeded Texas A&M in an opening-round game Saturday.

“The thought I had was to shoot and drive and do whatever I knew I could do best for my team,” Gault said.

#3 Louisville tamed #14 BYU, but the game may be remembered for this action by the Cardinals’ Mariya Moore than the actual score.

Meanwhile, Louisville’s inside presence out-muscled the Cougars from the opening tip. The Cardinals outscored BYU 44-30 in the paint, and added 11 second-chance points on 33 rebounds to net the win.

Barely two minutes into the second half, Louisville’s Mariya Moore drew a technical foul — and the ire of both coaches — leveling BYU’s Morrison with a hard push off a screen.

BYU leading scorer Lexi Eaton responded to the physical play of the game with an elbow of her own two minutes later, a move that went uncalled by the officials — though she did receive a foul on a push on the same play.

#2 Florida State was in their comfort zone, and easily handled #15 Alabama State, 91-49.

“This experience is huge for our program,” Alabama State coach Freda Freeman-Jackson said. “It’s been a while since we have actually had an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament. We only have one true senior that actually played (Saturday). We’re extremely young.”

Alabama State was composed early but wore out, committing 32 turnovers against a stifling Seminoles defense.

#14 Ohio spotted #3 Arizona State 16 points in the first half, but the MAC played the PAC even in the second. Nice re-focuser for the Sun Devils.

Junior guard Elisha Davis increased the lead on the next possession, getting a steal and making the layup. In a 54-second span, ASU had gone on a 7-0 run.

ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said the spurt was a result of ASU’s defense.

“When our defense is turning people over and we’re getting easy buckets in transition, that’s when we’re at our best,” she said.

Ohio coach Bob Boldon gave credit to that aspect of ASU’s game.

“They took us out of everything we wanted to do,” he said. “That really contributed to us getting frustrated on the offensive side.”

Speaking of “re-focusers” #16 Cal State Northridge sure as heck provided that for Stanford as what seemed like a blowout-in-the-making turned into a dogfight. Cardinal escaped, 73-60.

How many hard lessons is this year’s Stanford women’s basketball team going to have to learn?

The Cardinal have already learned that beating Connecticut doesn’t mean you can’t lose to Chattanooga, that knocking off Oregon State doesn’t mean you can beat Oregon, that winning Pac-12 titles isn’t a default status, that changing your entire offense and turning it into a well-oiled machine isn’t going to happen overnight.

And that hosting an NCAA tournament game isn’t the same as winning it. At least not if you don’t play well.

Stanford figured that last one out just in time Saturday.

Courtney Williams did what she does, as host #6 USF dispatched #11 LSU:

South Florida made the most of its first home NCAA postseason game.

Courtney Williams had 17 points and 12 rebounds, Alisia Jenkins added 15 points and No. 6 seed South Florida beat 11th-seed LSU 73-64 in an NCAA tournament first-round game Saturday night.

The announced crowd of 5,560 erupted as the final seconds ticked off.

“I took a moment and went out there (on the court) and was like `wow,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “This is what we’ve wanted and worked for.”

The Old Big East fans were having serious flashbacks in Storrs as they watched #8 Rutgers and #9 Seton Hall go after it in OBE style. 

“What a great game,” Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. “We played hard. I thought that Seton Hall did an outstanding job as well and just played extremely hard. We’re glad to have gotten that game under our belts.”

One year after staging a double-overtime thriller in the third round of the WNIT, Rutgers and Seton Hall turned in another memorable affair. For the second straight year in the postseason — and for the 34th time in 41 meetings all-time — the Scarlet Knights prevailed.

The #16 Terriers knew what they were getting into when they drew the #1 Huskies for their first-round match. But the game, did prompt a nice story in the NY Times about St. Francis guard Sarah Benedetti :For a St. Francis Player, UConn, Long an Inspiration, Turns Rival

When Sarah Benedetti moved to Canton, Conn., as a fifth grader in 2004, she almost immediately started rooting for the University of Connecticut’s basketball teams. That year, UConn became the first Division I university to win the national titles in men’s and women’s basketball.

Benedetti began attending Huskies games with her family and teammates. She idolized the UConn stars Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore. She was so obsessed with the sport that she arrived at Canton High School at 6 a.m. each day to shoot for an hour before classes started. Her father, Sergio, rebounded the ball for her.

Now a senior at St. Francis of Brooklyn, Benedetti competed Saturday night against her former favorite team.

Benedetti did well.

They were smiling from the moment they took the floor, especially when UConn’s starters were being introduced. This was their moment. And Benedetti, with a large cheering section on the day that her old high school lost its bid for a Class S state championship, did her best, making three three-pointers in a first half in which the team’s hole progressively grew deeper. She scored 13 points.

Said coach Thurston post-game:

“This was an incredible experience for our program. This team is the first time that St. Francis has sent a team to the NCAA Tournament on either the men’s or women’s side. Coach Auriemma is a gentlemen. He said nice things about our team and that means a lot to these girls. I told the girls if we played anyone else, we would have beat them, but it would take the defending National Champions to knock us out.”

On the Saturday games: Charlie:

1. ACC flies high: In two days, the ACC went from filling one eighth of the field to representing one quarter of it. While other teams are disappearing, everyone from the ACC remains present and accounted for. No one in the conference has lost, and the league is 8-0 after another four-win day Saturday. Pittsburgh, Florida State, North Carolina and Louisville all cruised into the second round. The Tar Heels had to withstand a late push by Liberty, but otherwise, the games were not only wins but also comfortable ones.

Even Pittsburgh, a No. 10 seed, thoroughly controlled Chattanooga from start to finish in handing the Lady Mocs their eighth straight tournament loss. For the second straight year, Chattanooga had a 25-game win streak snapped in the first round of the tournament. Panthers freshman Stasha Carey’s 16 points and 13 rebounds were just the second double-double in Pittsburgh NCAA tournament history.

Now hurry up and turn on the TV!

12:00 #4 Duke vs #5 Mississippi State, ESPN 2
12:00 #3 Iowa vs #11 Miami, ESPN 2

2:30 #2 Kentucky vs #7 Dayton, ESPN 2
2:30 #2 Baylor vs #10 Arkansas, ESPN 2

7:00 #3 Oregon State vs #11 Gonzaga, ESPN 2
7:00 #1 South Carolina vs #8 Syracuse, ESPN

9:00 #4 Cal vs #5 Texas, ESPN 2
9:00 #1 Notre Dame vs #9 DePaul, ESPN

Oh, and thanks, pilight, for keeping official track of this:

Note that this does not include the men’s play-in games. This is round of 64 vs round of 64. 

UPSET is any lower seed winning 

BIG UPSET happens when an upset involves teams more than four seeds apart 

CLOSE means a game was decided by single digits or in overtime 

BLOWOUT means a game was decided by 20 or more points 

80-90-100 is the number of teams scoring that many points

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Yes, we got in our big grant renewal proposal before the 5pm deadline. Thanks, Chris!!! Now, all you readers you, think positive, funding thoughts!

In other news…

Most folks held serve on Thursday, but some eyebrow raisers on Friday.

In the Southland, Houston Baptist (14-17, 6-12) toppled Texas A&M Corpus Christi (16-16. 12-6), 49-48.

It was the Blue Hens upsetting the Dragons, 55-48.

“I’m really proud of our kids,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “I think they stepped up and followed the game plan beautifully. We were able to knock down some shots, but I thought it was a tremendous effort defensively for us. Our communication on the floor was much better.’’

I wouldn’t call this outrageously surprising, but Southern Miss floored it in the second half to take down in-conference C-USA rival, Middle Tennessee, 65-53.

“I’m very proud of our team,” USM coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “Our locker room was not very nice at halftime, nor were many timeouts very nice. This kid [Tamara Jones] sitting next to me – if you ask her at about the 8 minute mark if your coach cared for you at all, she’d probably say ‘heck no.’ I really challenged her extremely hard. I said some things to really, really challenge her and to make her really mad with me so that she would respond. What an unbelievable response.”

USM will face Western Kentucky, which withstoodfurious comeback from Barefoot’s ODU team. Hmmm… maybe the Monarchs will rise again.

“This one’s a hard one,” coach Karen Barefoot said, her voice breaking. “I’ve never felt so proud of being their coach. They played very hard, with a lot of heart, toughness.”

Indeed, the Lady Monarchs proved that Barefoot’s oft-stated belief that they are never out of a game was more than just talk. Down 18 at halftime, ODU pulled even with 9:34 left and actually led by five with 7:53 to play.

Their season totals are similar, but their Southland conference records make this an upset: Northwestern State over Nicholls State with authority, 84-67.

It was Friday the 13th and the Northwestern State women’s basketball bus had broken down, leaving the Lady Demons scrambling to get to the Leonard C. Merrell Center for their Southland Conference Tournament quarterfinal against third-seeded Nicholls.

Bad omens? Not quite. Once Northwestern State reached the Merrell Center – its home away from home – all was right with the Lady Demons’ world.

Super-scoring Sacramento State couldn’t stop Northern Colorado in OT, so it’s the Bears moving into the Big Sky finals. Cool note: John Stockton took in some games.

Maryland-Eastern Shore continued its upset ways, taking down the pretender to the MEAC throne Norfolk State, 69-64 in OT. They’re into the tournament finals for the first time.

In the Missouri Valley, top bulldog Drake (20-9, 15-3) was pushed into overtime by Evansville (12-18, 6-12), where it fell to the seventh-seed, 84-79.

“We had a good conference season, but none of that matters come tournament time,” freshman guard Maddy Dean said. “We expected better out of our team, and we didn’t pull it out tonight.

“That’s tough. It hurts.”

I said it once, and I’ll say it again – Eastern Michigan is on a mission and you don’t wanna get in their way. Ball State was their latest conquest, 75-65.

“Wow, what a game,” EMU coach Tory Verdi said. “I’m just really, really proud of our kids. Tremendous effort. There were times where we faced adversity, where we were on our own and things didn’t go our way; where we didn’t fold, but we just fight right back.”

It’s been an emotional two months for EMU as its dealt with the loss of a teammate during the season. Junior forward Shannise Heady passed away in a car accident on Jan. 25.

Squeak! WHB still hasn’t managed to curse’em, but it was close. New Mexico State survives OT v. Seattle U, 79-75 and moves into the WAC finals.

“Give Seattle all the credit in the world, they played really really hard and executed well,” Aggie head coach Mark Trakh said, “Having said that, I’m really proud of our young student-athletes, they did a great job out there.  They’ve been handling pressure all year and they always felt they could win that game.”

Might have cursed their in-state rivals, though. New Mexico falls in the Mountain west finals to Boise State. The Broncos rode Spaniard Yaiza Rodriguez’s 18 points to win their first MW title and earn the NCAA tourney bid (first time since 2007).

“To be able to be with everyone you love, representing a university who you have so much passion for, it was awesome,” Pahukoa said.

Hello, Hawai’i! They move into the Big West finals with their 73-64, win over CS Fullerton.

The Big Dogs are back – though Hartford did NOT make it easy, even though they were down two starters. Albany wins a chance to dance.

“A lot of credit to Hartford — they played with a lot of passion, a lot of guts, everything,” Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. “They played really, really hard. But at the end, we just turned it up defensively and a couple timeouts, I said, ‘We better be getting that ball to No. 25 [Richards].’ And she stepped up and did what she does.”

Jennifer Gish writes: UAlbany women’s basketball worthy of more fans

Games to watch today: 

MAC Final – Eastern Michigan v. Ohio. It out to be a fierce battle of green uniforms. 1pm, TWCS, BCSN, Comcast Michigan, ESPN Full Court, ESPN3. EMU’s resliancy is amazing (and EMU becomes the first six-seed to make the MAC women’s title game). Kudos to coach Verdi (his dance moves) and his staff. Ditto with former Penguin coach “Bob the Builder Boldon” and his work with the Bobcats.

This is the third time Ohio and Eastern Michigan have faced each other this season.  The two teams split the season series, 1-1. Last time, the Bobcats fell to the Eagles, 73-61 in Athens.  That loss snapped the Bobcats 10-game winning streak.

MEAC FinalMD-E Shore v. Savannah State. Someone new will be dancin’ from the MEAC. Will the upset-minded Hawks take down their third upper-seed, or with the Tigers prevail? 3:30 EST, ESPN3.

Big Sky: Northern Colorado v. Montana. 4PM EST. Two championship game vets battle (Griz, 20th time. Bears 2nd time in three years).

WAC: New Mexico State v. UT-Pan American. No basketball team representing the University in Edinburg, whether called Pan American University or UT-Pan American, has ever reached the NCAA Division 1 tournament. The last game between these two teams was an Aggies win by 20. But when they hosted NMSt, the Broncos only lost by 3. 4PM, ESPNU, ESPN3.

American: Lehigh v. American. No doubt American is the favorite, but after losing their last four in the regular season, the Mountain Hawks seem to have found their second wind. 6PM EST, CBS Sports Network.

Playing American provides extra motivation for O’Reilly. One of the Eagles’ starters, senior forward Arron Zimmerman, was a high school teammate of O’Reilly’s.

Zimmerman is one of several players capable of a big night for American. Senior point guard Jen Dumiak will draw the most attention from Lehigh’s defense.

Big West: Cal State Northridge v. Hawai’i, 6PM, EST, streaming through Fox Sports. The return of the Wahine has been a fun story. How will it end?

C-USA: Western Kentucky v. Southern Miss. 8PM EST, CBS Sports Network. This could be a doozy. The Toppers have been on my radar all season, and Southern Miss has been determine to knock over their hatrack (see what I did there?).

Sun Belt: Arkansas State v. Arkansas – Little Rock. 8pm EST, ESPN3. In-state rivalry. What more needs to be said?

The two best women’s basketball teams in the Sun Belt Conference, led by its two most successful coaches, will finally collide in the conference tournament final. The third meeting of the season between UALR and Arkansas State was realized Friday when both teams won tournament semifinal games. Now the top-seeded Trojans and No. 2 Red Wolves will play with the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line at 7 p.m. today.

Some other stuff:

From Mechelle – Nina Davis always in right place

 There’s a quality that exists among certain basketball players that really can’t quite be attributed to their size, or quickness, or even skill level. And that is their magnetism to the basketball. Or vice versa.

It seems almost freakish sometimes, doesn’t it? In a good way, of course, for the people who have it. Although even they often can’t explain it.

“I guess from playing for so long,” Baylor forward Nina Davis said, “I just know where the ball is going next.”

Well, that’s not exactly it. She’s only a sophomore, so we’re not talking about a grizzled veteran. The bottom line is that Davis has a knack for being where the ball is, and we’re probably never going to be completely sure how she does it.

But it’s something that Baylor assistant coach Bill Brock noticed when he was recruiting the 5-foot-11 Davis.

Espnw honors Jewell Loyd as their POY, Mitchell as their FOY, and Semrau as their COY.

FiveThirtyEight says: Princeton Enters Women’s Tournament As An Unusual Sort Of Undefeated Team

Unlike UConn and Notre Dame last season, which were the clear top-two teams entering the tournament, Princeton won’t even be favored to advance from its region. None of its wins came against teams now ranked in the Top 25. Its conference schedule was a breeze: Penn was the only other Ivy League team with a winning conference record, and just Cornell joined Princeton and Penn with a winning overall record.

Princeton’s nonconference schedule wasn’t all that hard, either. After Tuesday’s regular-season finale, senior guard Blake Dietrick said she started thinking 30-0 was possible when the Tigers beat Michigan by 30 in Ann Arbor.

Check out this nice video on the Ivy Tigers: Perfect Princeton Is Ready To Dance

The AP’s writes Steve Megargee writes: Women’s mid-majors could be poised for breakthrough tourney

Mid-major women’s basketball programs historically have much less success in the NCAA Tournament than their counterparts on the men’s side.

Perhaps this is the year that changes.

The latest Top 25 includes four mid-majors ranked 20th or higher: No. 13 Princeton, No. 17 Chattanooga, No. 19 George Washington and No. 20 Florida Gulf Coast. Gonzaga, Green Bay, James Madison and Western Kentucky also have appeared in the Top 25 this season.

“We just want to win and want to prove to people we can compete in March,” said Princeton guard Blake Dietrick.

Dishin’ and Swishin’ is talking da Bears and da Buckeyes.

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Must watch Snappy TV – Fun stuff from the Huskers: WBB Lip Sync-Staff

Nice stuff from Mechelle: Bonded by basketball: Sisters love Big 12 tournament

If you were at the recent Big 12 women’s basketball tournament, you might have seen them on the Jumbotron at American Airlines Center. Who was that group of people who were there for every session and seemed like they were having a blast no matter who was playing?

One day, they were wearing matching white T-shirts with the words “Geneva’s Convention” on the back. That might have set some minds stirring. Hmmmm … there aren’t any players or coaches in the Big 12 named Geneva, are there? Nobody is from a town of that name, are they? Does Switzerland have anything to do with it?

No, no, no. Geneva Tuttle was a very big women’s basketball fan, and the Big 12 tournament became her annual bonding event with her three sisters. And after illness took Geneva in 2007 at age 67, the gathering expanded to other family members.

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Video: Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender on ‘being feminine and being good on the court’

While perusing Ohio State’s website for statistics the other day, I saw the video above in which center Jantel Lavender articulates discusses how she thinks about being a feminine athlete at about the 4:30 mark in a voice over while getting her nails done.

“I know when it’s time to get down and dirty and I know when it’s time to be girly and prissy – I enjoy the finer things of being a girl,” Lavender said. “You never have to be too much of one thing – I don’t think you have to be too ‘manly’ or anything just to be a great basketball player. I really take pride in that and I really want to be a feminine basketball player.”

The question is what exactly does it mean to be a feminine basketball player?

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(if you ignore the results of the last match up) between #9 UCLA and #3 Stanford. Says Michelle Smith at Left Coast Hoops:

The Bruins, who have the best record in school history through 23 games, have a chance to stake their claim to a share of the Pac-10 title with a win over Stanford. But this is one of the toughest finishes in the conference, with the Bay Area schools, followed on the road at the Arizonas and then hosting two of the hottest teams in the league. Since the loss at Stanford, UCLA has won six games, five by a margin of 10 points or less.

Full Court has their take on the Big Ten chaos (Yah, I’m a day late and a dollar short — but they DID get the winner of the PSU/Ohio State game right).

Bob Corwin also has a nice piece on Rick Insell and his Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.

In Part IV of our series, we take a look at Middle Tennessee, a mid-major program with a long history of success. But when two-time All-American Alysha Clark (5-10, C) graduated from the Blue Raider fold at the end of last season, it was hard to believe that Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Insell would come up with a similar player in his very next freshman class. Most would have expected to undergo several years of rebuilding after Clark’s departure, but that was before Insell found Ebony Rowe (generously listed at 6-1, C) out of Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky. The Blue Raiders are currently 21-5 overall and clinched the Sun Belt title last weekend after dropping just one conference game to date (11-1). Of course, there’s more to the Blue Raider picture than just Rowe—outstanding coaching being a major part of that equation—but Rowe has done more than her part in contributing to the continued success at Middle Tennessee.

Speaking of “mid” Majors, Q’s got his eye on some hidden gems: 2011 WNBA Draft Prospects: Major, Mid-Major, Independent & NAIA Players To Watch

…at the beginning of the season, we posted a list of Top 13 WNBA draft prospects and five additional high-profile prospects in order to prepare for our own draft analysis. And as mentioned then, the list was by no means exhaustive and we’ve been keeping an eye out for additional players all season. With contributing writers from coast to coast, we’ve seen a number of strong prospects collectively and have come up with a list of 8 more players that have caught our eye including two lesser-known players who could end up in the WNBA Draft combine.

For now we’re neither ranking nor suggesting how high players might be drafted (or even whether they will be), instead just trying to take stock of the landscape of the talented players we’ve seen before doing a more extensive analysis later.

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if GW coach Mike Bozeman ‘s seat isn’t red hot, someone needs to slap their AD Jack Kvancz upside the head: Temple Owls hand GW program-worst loss

That being said, the last regular season game between Temple and Xavier (both currently undefeated in the A-10) looks to be very interesting. I bet the Owls are glad it’s in Philly.

Oh, and a hearty “THANK YOU” to whoever manages the Temple website and clearly breaks down their current record. I hate counting Ws and Ls.

Yup, Miami is toasty: At No. 13, ‘Canes have highest ranking in 19 years

Coach Tricia Binford’s Montana State Bobcats have won 13 straight games at home and are still in contention for the league championship.

From Jim Massie: Late-season push critical for Buckeyes

Zach Silka writes, The self-described “win ugly” team at the University of Toledo has transformed into the “make its opponent look ugly” team.

From Rob Moseley from the Register-Guard, Lost in transition: 2010-11 season has been tough for Westhead’s women’s team

By now, two years into its new era, the Oregon women’s basketball team under offensive-oriented coach Paul Westhead was supposed to be playing a razzle-dazzle style that would achieve the dual purpose of entrenching the Ducks in the top half of the Pac-10 while entrenching thousands of butts in the seats of a grand new arena.

That was the best-case scenario, anyway. Three quarters of the way through the 2010-11 season, the UO women, while 14th nationally in scoring with 78.8 points per game, are enduring a tough stretch. And some fans are starting to wonder about the efficacy of hiring the legendary coach — on top of those fans who have long questioned a process they believe stunk just a bit of cronyism in the first place.

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Jim Massie writes: It’s make or break time for OSU

The predicament facing the Ohio State women’s basketball team is as startling as finding a Siberian tiger lurking in the stairwell between the locker room and the practice gym.

The six-time defending Big Ten champion Buckeyes (13-8, 4-5) are in seventh place in the conference standings and have looked nothing like the alpha team that they were touted to be after opening the season with seven straight wins.

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Lucky 13

From Ben at SlamOnline: Tina Charles, no. 13 – The definitive ranking of the WNBA’s best players.

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Rick Rezier previews the Big Ten women’s basketball season

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Norm Chad of the Sun-Times writes: UConn women rolling toward record streak

The Connecticut women’s basketball team — arguably the most successful 21st-century enterprise in America not propped up by Oprah Winfrey or municipal bonds — goes for its 88th consecutive victory today, which would tie the 1971-74 mark of UCLA’s legendary men’s basketball team.

Meanwhile, Connecticut’s Rich Elliot blogs: Lavender Looking To End The Streak Sunday

“I do want to stand in the way of the 88-game winning streak,’’ Lavender said. “(Assistant coach Ed Baldwin) had a really good point. You don’t want to be a trivia question; be on the bad end of a trivia question. We have to come out extremely hard. I’m excited. We want to win. We have what it takes to be a great team. We just have to show it. This is our time.’’

In the NCAA.com article, UConn poised to set streak standard, the have some nice “streaks of note” lists.

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I and my 47 women’s basketball fan friends have purchased our tickets for the Maggie Dixon Classic, have you?

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This time it’s Jorge Castillo writing. Veteran Katie Smith’s contributions to Washington Mystics are adding up

The 5-foot-11 Smith has started in all but one of the team’s 19 games this season, averaging 9.6 points in 31.8 minutes per game during the team’s 12-7 start. Although that’s a career low for Smith, the number was supposed to be lower.

“I told Katie I didn’t anticipate her playing 32, 33 minutes every night, but she does what we need her to do to win,” Coach Julie Plank said in a telephone interview last week. “Some nights she doesn’t score points and probably has the biggest impact to our winning because she’s a great defender and really a great leader for us. Sometimes I forget she’s 36 years old and she sure doesn’t play like it.”

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