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and still generating surprises.

The entire C-USA tourney has been a surprise (or hot mess, depending on your view): The championship game will feature the #6 seed (Tulsa) v. the #8 seed (UCF). UCF, straight of their upset of top-seed SMU, continued their hot play by taking down UTEP, 89-77. Tulsa used a stubborn defense to hold off #2 seed East Carolina, 72-59.

The MAC finals will feature a surprise team: Central Michigan earned a (fair) shot at the title by holding off top-seed Toledo. Tough for fans of Naama who’d hoped she’d get a chance at the Dance. The Chippewas will go up against Akron’s Zips, who defeated Ball State.

The Southland finals will feature top-seed Oral Roberts against #2-seed Sam Houston (who seem to have survived their brief bout with the WHB curse.)

No surprise, Hampton has rolled into the MEAC finals. No surprise, their opponent will be Howard.

Big Sky Finals: Montana v. Northern Colorado.

In the Big West, Cal State Fullerton couldn’t overcome top-seed Pacific (though it took a last-second three to do it). In the finals, the Tigers will go against Cal Poly (another team that seems to have survived the WHB curse).

The Vandals ruined my WAC brack(et). The finals feature Idaho and Seattle U.

D’em Penguins didn’t make it into the Horizon finals. Instead, it will be Loyola (IL) taking on Green Bay.

Revenge of the former team? #4 Prairie View upset Coop’s new team, Texas Southern, 58-62. That mean’s they’re in the SWAC finals against Mississippi Valley State.

San Diego State rolled over New Mexico, which means they’ll face Fresno State, which just escaped Wyoming, in the MWC finals.

It’s Delaware v. Hofstra and Drexel v. James Madison in today’s CAA semis.

The MVC has held serve through their semis: #1 Wichita State v. #4 Northern Iowa and #2 Creighton v. #3 Illinois State.

When Holy Cross takes on Navy, the Middies will be looking to three-peat as Patriot League champs

The biggest surprise of the day would probably be up Albany, if somehow Hartford could take down conference big dog, the Great Danes.

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Central Michigan de-feathered the Falcons, and the Chippewas move into the MAC semi-finals. They’ll get to face top-seed Toledo, who are sponsoring a road trip: UT to Sponsor Free Student Bus Trip to MAC Women’s Basketball Tournament. In the other bracket, it’ll be the Zips against Ball State.

C-USA is upset city: SMU fell to Knights on a roll: UCF took down the Mustangs, 70-66. Tulsa took down Tulane. UTEP over UAB. ESU was not upset.

Huge upset in the MVC first round: Evansville (7-11 MVC) taken down by Southern Illinois (1-17 MVC) in OT, 83-74.

Mechelle and Michelle discuss which teams helped their stock rise and which teams fell during their conference tournaments.

Hey, ESPN folks! Can I make a suggestion? Put the latest Beth & Debbie podcast on the espnW front page. Sheesh!

Dishin’ and Swishin’ talks bracketology with Charlie.

Creme discusses the birth of bracketology, how he goes about preparing his prognostications, and answers questions that many of you have been wondering about.

Stanford or Duke as a number one, an explanation of “procedural bumps” and bubble ins and outs, mid-majors versus BCS conference selections, building credibility, RPI and previous success impact on seeding and more.

Graham talks Blue Hens: Delaware’s other comeback story – After years of back problems, senior point guard Kayla Miller is at top of her game

The incredulousness in the voice of the Drexel play-by-play announcer grew with each shot that slipped through the net in a January game against Delaware. And not for the reason that might first come to mind with the Blue Hens.

 Elena Delle Donne splitting two defenders and leaning into an 18-footer or drifting backward on the baseline for an unstoppable turnaround elicited only resigned appreciation from the broadcast. People in the Colonial Athletic Association have seen enough of those shots over the past four seasons to last them a lifetime. Opponents just hope to keep her highlights to a minimum, as Drexel mostly did on a day when the All-American scored 24 points.

What left the voice calling the game incredulous were three 3-pointers by Kayla Miller, each field goal coming when her team either trailed or held a lead small enough that it could have been erased by the Dragons in a single possession. This was not, in a performance in which she also finished with seven assists and one turnover in 39 minutes, the Miller that Drexel previously encountered.

Michelle Smith talks Seattle U: Redhawks reach new heights

Since Joan Bonvicini last led a team onto the floor for an NCAA tournament game nine years ago, the coach has experienced pain and frustration, re-evaluation and rebirth.

But all she feels right now, in this moment, is excitement.

“These kids, they respond and they trust me and each other,” Bonvicini said.

Seattle University opened the Western Athletic Conference tournament in Las Veags on Wednesday night as the regular-season champion, playing for its first conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Mechelle also reflects on BG, SD & EDD: Changing the game early on (and ever since)

Like most folks who follow women’s basketball, I’d seen YouTube videos of Brittney Griner as a high school player dunking. But the first in-person view came at Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena in November 2009, where “the kid” gave a good indication that the hype was worth it.

She scored 15 points in Baylor’s 74-65 loss. There were no dunks, but Griner’s impact was felt immediately. 

“Have you ever watched a game where Pat Summitt played only two possessions of man-to-man defense?” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said after that nationally televised contest. “People ask, ‘Is Brittney Griner going to change the game of women’s basketball?’ Well, you saw it change today. Did you ever think you’d see the day Tennessee would zone somebody like that?”

Mechelle chatted:

Chase (Maine): With all the recent trades, acquisitions, and signings in the WNBA, I have to admit that I am excited about the Tulsa Shock and their prospects for a more competitive 2013 season. Do you believe that Nicole Powell and Candice Wiggins can go back to their play of seasons past and be a tandem of go-to scorers that the Shock so desperately need? Or is consistency going to be a problem? Both players are quite streaky, so that is my main concern. How does the almost certain addition of Skylar Diggins help bolster this team? I can imagine she and Wiggins will be a nightmare for opposing guards on the defensive end!

Mechelle Voepel: Especially with the news that Sue Bird is not playing this summer, there is more reason for Tulsa to be excited. Right now, it’s hard to expect much from the Storm. Now, we could be surprised, but there are teams like the Storm and SASS that have injury woes going into this season. They are not as strong as they could be. And that does potentially leave some daylight for Tulsa. It’s unfortunate for the league and for those franchises that star players are hurt. But sometimes other teams’ bad luck becomes a previously struggling team’s opening.

Maggie Lucas blogs: We’re looking forward to March Madness

At Full Court:

Lady Vol Taber Spani talks homeschool basketball and recruiting

Bubble Wrap 2013: Final wrap

Sue says: Stanford wins Pac 12, but looks vulnerable heading to NCAAs

Things went pretty much according to script in the Pac 12 Tournament except for one major casting change: instead of Stanford and Cal duking it out for the championship, it was the Cardinal and UCLA.

It was one of the best title games in years.

Clay says: It’s time to give Baylor some love

Haters gonna hate.

They’re going to hate Brittney Griner, just like they hated Wilt Chamberlain, just like they hated Shaquille O’Neal, just like they hated all the great post players.

They’re going to hate Baylor, for its athletes and its attitude, for winning three straight Big 12 titles, for going 127-16 in the Griner years.

They’re going to hate Kim Mulkey, for screaming at her assistant coaches when her players screw up, for screaming at the officials when she’s up 35, for wearing some of the weirdest outfits ever to grace a basketball sideline.

Haters, sadly, are going to hate.

Mike says: The SEC Seven Owns NCAA Selection Monday

In W news, Ruthie and Ticha mean Ailene Voisin is back talking women’s basketball: Former Monarchs rally for support of WNBA team returning to Sacramento

Finally, a little reflection on officiating.

If you follow the gentlemen, you know there was some excitement at the end of the Charlotte/Richmond game. Some fouls, some technicals, and suddenly the 49ers move on. Coaches (as in the losing one) are upset wondering about officials “deciding the game.” Officials are discussing the calls (You don’t have that choice if you follow the rules. Once the ball goes through the hoop, it is dead and you cannot call a personal foul for contact during a dead ball period. It was too much to ignore so it had to be a T.).

My two cents:

1) Listen to the Caterpillar, Alice: “Keep your temper.”

2) If you don’t want officials to “decide” a game, simply take them off the court in the last two minutes. ’cause isn’t that what folks want? Ignore the rules, “let it go,” “you don’t make that call in the last minute,” etc. Shall we agree that, in the last two minutes, anything goes? ’cause, if we do that, no one will be upset with the results, right?

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(thank you Graham!), so it’s cool when Nate pays attention: Making sense of mid-major WNBA draft prospects’ statistics: How can we project success?

So, our list of consensus 2013 WNBA Draft prospects should’ve been posted months ago, probably in October some time.

But, among other things in life, I got obsessed with sidetracked by the challenge of figuring out what to do with mid-major statistics, due in part to two players that our statistical indicators might have overvalued last season, based on the outcomes: VCU’s Courtney Hurt and Wisconsin – Green Bay’s Julie Wojta.

Hurt’s challenge to make the WNBA as an undersized forward have already been documented here, but to summarize offensive rebounding percentage transfers from NCAA D-I basketball better than any statistic and she was so dominant at VCU that it seemed as though she could find a way to contribute to a WNBA roster. Alas, she was drafted by the Indiana Fever in the third round of the 2012 draft and failed to last past the first week of training camp.

Oofta: Looks like coaches now how to prepare for Sam Houston the second time around. Oral Roberts took advantage and stomped all over them, 90-40.

I take this as a good sign: mom and I are going birding this weekend and, while we won’t see any penguins, we might see some puffins. The sign? Youngstown State wins again, and is now 7-3 in the Horizon. And yes, I know Green Bay is still undefeated.

Yes, I will say IUPUI has a ways to go, but they’re on the road to recovery. Got themselves a huge win over the Jackrabbits, 70-67. They’d beaten South Dakota State for the first time in program history back in January.

Maybe a hot seat is inspiring? Kellie’s Wolfpack took down #19 Florida State, 76-69.

Yah, they were down, but Liberty has re-established itself as the team to beat in the Big South.

This time the “I” stood for “consistent,” and #24 Iowa State swept the season series with #22 Oklahoma, 72-68.

It ain’t easy being a Cavalier. Virginia got beaten by Boston College courtesy of 21pts (7 3-pts) from senior Kerri Shields.

Hawkins took her frustration out on hapless Clemson.

Penn State needed every on of Maggie’s 21pts. #8 Lions defeat Iowa, 81-69.

Pretty huge win for Marshall, as the Thundering herd got their C-USA victory over perennial powerhouse UTEP.

It’s kind of game that gives coaches and fans heartburn: Dawn’s team had a nice sized lead on Kentucky, then Mitchell’s team clawed back and escaped with the win.

Wichita State recovered nicely from the shock they got from Bradley. They move to 11-1 in the MVC.

Northern Colorado kept pace with Montana in the Big Sky. It’s been a tough three weeks for Tricia’s Montana State.

Texas A&M says, “We’re enjoying the SEC, thankyouverymuch.” With their win over Florida, they move in to a tie for first place. Their co-leader? The Vols, who they meet in the last game of the regular season. Which is why you may want to read  Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Wide Open SEC Race Thunders Into The Home Stretch

Gonzaga is showing the WCC who’s the boss and get a little payback.

Seattle U’s making noise, and Jayda’s listening.

Utah State kept atop the WAC with what looked to have been a fun game: 2OTs, 31 pts from a Denver freshman, and a last second three  by Deven Christensen (now the Aggies’ all-time leading scorer) gives them the 92-89 win.

Griner is tall. Donovan is tall. Let’s talk about that, says John Altavilla:

Do you ever put yourself in Brittney Griner’s place, remember what it was like when you were her age?

“When I look at Brittney, I often think of what my life was like when I was her age. What I think is how comfortable she looks in her skin. That was not me when I was her age, certainly not when I was 18 or 19. I finally embraced my height when I was 20, but off the court I was a very shy and introverted kid. Brittney is not like that. She appears to be so very outgoing. You can see the shyness is some respects, but in general she appears very comfortable with who she is. I admire that about her.”

Oh, apparently the gentlemen are playing an exhibition game: A look at the four WNBA stars participating in the NBA’s All-Star Weekend (considering there will be no defense, methinks Maya will kick butt).

Speaking of the WNBA, and interesting study: ACL surgery may not shorten WNBA career

Still doesn’t mean we don’t need some serious, women-specific research on the injury. Consider Bob Corwin’s piece at Full Court: Carolyn Davis battles back from a devastating injury

Sad news from Lady Swish: ODU volunteer assistant Sara Jones passes away

Old Dominion volunteer assistant coach Sara Jones lost her heroic battle with cancer Friday at 7:57 a.m. She was 40 years old.

Jones had overcome multiple bouts with the disease and become an inspirational presence at practices and games the past two seasons for Lady Monarchs coach and long-time friend Karen Barefoot, who described Jones as “her hero.”

Old Dominion will release a full story with quotes from Barefoot later today. LadySwish will share some thoughts as well. On Sunday at 2 p.m., the Lady Monarchs will host Northeastern in the 11th annual Hoops for the Cure game to raise cancer awareness.

I mutter a lot about homophobia, bias and sexism on the blog. Kate Fagan adds to the conversation: Recent events expose sexism in sports culture

I’ve been thinking about that interaction a lot lately, my memory triggered by a slew of recent events that expose, to varying degrees, the unrelenting sexism that exists in our sports culture. Sometimes it’s blatant; more often than not it’s subtle, a never-ending reassertion of power intended to keep men in control and women on guard.

Consider the words of Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who was ejected from a game on Feb. 5 for telling a referee to stop “acting like a f—ing female.”

It’s hard to say what’s more disconcerting: the casual contempt in Cousins’ words or the fact that most writers chose to ignore it, focusing instead on his use of the F-bomb (that is, his cursing) and his reputation for questionable on-court behavior, which has led to 11 technical fouls this season.

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