Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Regional might have strongest seeds 1-3
Before the women's NCAA tournament opens Saturday ESPN.com breaks down the four regionals. Check out the Berkeley, Oklahoma City and Trenton analysis.
Graham Hays' upset watch
No. 5 Kansas State vs. No. 12 Drexel (ESPN2/ESPN360, 10 p.m. ET Saturday): The Dragons have a tremendous individual weapon in Gabriela Marginean, but she makes a living at the free throw line, averaging 8.4 attempts per game and shooting almost 90 percent from the charity stripe. Will she be able to get into a disciplined Kansas State defense that allowed the fewest free throw attempts per game in the Big 12? Add to that the fact that the Philadelphia team is playing at altitude and at 10 p.m. ET (sure, Kansas isn't exactly mountainous, but at least the Wildcats are used to playing Colorado in Boulder). Pick: Kansas State
No. 6 LSU vs. No. 11 UW-Green Bay (ESPN2/ESPN360, 7 p.m. ET Sunday): Interest rate, interest rate, interest rate might have replaced location as the backbone of real estate, but the latter still carries weight in hoops. UW-Green Bay is capable, but pulling an upset in Baton Rouge is asking a lot, especially with only a handful of players who played meaningful minutes in the team's strong showing two years ago in the first two rounds in Hartford. LSU is not a great rebounding team and might not expose UW-Green Bay's lack of size as much as some other power-conference teams might. The bad news is the Lady Tigers don't give up many 3-pointers and they take good care of the basketball, two areas the Phoenix need to have an edge in to win. Pick: LSU
Other games: A little soft elsewhere, this regional might have the strongest 1-, 2- and 3-seeds. That's bad news for Dartmouth, Liberty and UT-San Antonio.
Mechelle Voepel's breakdown
No. 8 Villanova vs. No. 9 Utah (ESPN2/ESPN360.com, noon ET Sunday, ESPN): While they're together, somebody should have Villanova's Harry Perretta and Utah's Elaine Elliott make a coaching video. Neither coach ever has loads of talent, but both find ways to win. Not by scoring a lot, though. Villanova, which wears down foes' defenses with maddening patience, averages 55.6 ppg. Utah, typically a defensive-minded team, averages 63.4 ppg.
Utah played a tough nonconference schedule and at one point lost four games in a row. But the Utes steadily progressed through the Mountain West Conference. They lost at TCU to finish the regular season but won the league tournament. Villanova has 13 losses but did beat Notre Dame twice -- a key to the Wildcats getting an at-large bid.
• G/F Marissa Coleman, Maryland: Averaging 17.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg and with 110 assists and 64 steals, there just isn't anything Coleman doesn't do well.
• F Angel McCoughtry, Louisville: Another player who does it all at the elite level -- she's averaging 23.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg and has 146 steals.
• G/F Christina Wirth, Vanderbilt: She led the Commodores to the SEC tournament title and is averaging a team-best 15.8 points.
Three under the radar
• F Gabriela Marginean, Drexel: At 23.6 points per game, she's third in Division I in scoring average and led the Dragons to their first NCAA tournament appearance.
• F Marlies Gipson, Kansas State: Just 6 feet tall, she still has anchored the inside for the Wildcats her entire career and is the school's career leader in blocks (256).
• G Melissa Jones, Baylor: Her numbers don't tell the story -- you have to watch her set screens, work on defense and have a nose for the ball.
Charlie Creme's take
Who's Hot: Maryland's Marissa Coleman. The 6-foot-1 senior couldn't have been better in the ACC tournament, averaging 23 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. There also doesn't appear to be a player or team in the early rounds that can physically stay with Coleman. Perhaps only the two-week break between games could slow her down.
Who's Not: Kellie Harper's eraser board. The fifth-year Western Carolina coach and former Tennessee star drew up play after successful play helping the Catamounts, down 15 at one point in the second half, come back to beat the College of Charleston in triple overtime in the Southern Conference championship game. Undoubtedly, she'll need a new one for the meeting with former SEC opponent Vanderbilt.
Possible matchup to watch: Marissa Coleman vs. Angel McCoughtry. One mega matchup if Maryland and Louisville can reach the regional final. One mega meeting of two All-Americans and two of the most versatile players in the game. These are the kind of subplots that make the tournament so great.
Possible upset: Seventh-seeded South Dakota State over No. 2 Baylor in the second round. The Jackrabbits are balanced, but still have a go-to player in Jennifer Warkenthien. They play good defense and were tested outside the Summitt early in the season. It will be a tall order beating the Big 12 tournament champs, but the Lady Bears did show some vulnerability in Oklahoma City.