LSU can win the NCAA title if: Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles carry the Tigers
In science, "Occam's Razor" suggests the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. And when it comes to successful chemistry on the basketball court in March, it doesn't get much simpler than the combination of Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles.
The Lady Tigers might be the least complicated team in the bracket, but 27 times this season they proved there is little correlation between knowing what's coming and stopping it. Augustus and Fowles aren't the only tandem to carry an especially large scoring burden for a championship contender (Cappie Pondexter and Matee Ajavon actually combine for a slightly higher percentage of Rutgers' average scoring output than Augustus and Fowles do for LSU), but no pair as completely defines a team.
There are other pieces of the puzzle for Pokey Chatman's squad. Sophomore point guard Erica White studied well under All-American Temeka Johnson last season and has emerged during conference play as a likely future candidate for the Nancy Lieberman Award (given to the nation's top point guard). Despite only starting 15 games, White averaged nearly six assists per game in the regular season and fell just shy of a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in SEC play. And senior guard Scholanda Hoston is the only consistent threat from behind the arc, leading the team with 35 3-point field goals in 30 games.
Big contributions from White and Hoston (who along with Augustus and Fowles each played all 40 minutes in LSU's loss to Tennessee in the SEC Tournament final) will be needed if LSU wants to make it to a third consecutive Final Four, but it's still the two stars who will ultimately determine whether the Tigers sink or swim.
Not that Augustus and Fowles were necessarily to blame for LSU's losses against Connecticut, Florida and Tennessee this season. Fowles, in particular, played brilliantly in the setbacks, averaging 17 points and 14 rebounds in those games. Augustus suffered through one of her worst games in the loss to Connecticut, hitting just 6-of-19 shots and was frequently off the mark against the Lady Vols in the SEC finale. But she did pour in 35 points on 13-of-19 shooting in the overtime loss at Florida.
For the most part, the two stars weren't awful in the losses; they just weren't good enough. It's almost a given that the Tigers can't win in the later rounds if Augustus suffers through more frigid shooting nights (she's shooting a sizzling 57.8 percent from the floor for the season) or if Fowles lets announcers run wild with puns by getting into serious foul trouble.
The team might be able to win it all if Augustus and Fowles merely live up to their regular-season numbers -- it worked well enough in regular-season wins against tourney teams Baylor, Georgia, Kentucky (twice), Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Tennessee.
But if Augustus can find the zone in her final run at a title, or if Fowles takes the next step toward becoming the most dominant post player in the women's game, LSU has the 1-2 punch to knock out the field.
Graham Hays is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage. E-mail him at Graham.Hays@espn3.com.