Chat with Mechelle Voepel
So, send in your questions now and then join Mechelle Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Mechelle (1:01 PM)
Hi folks, I'm here. Let's get going.
How far can UGA go? The Lady Dawgs always seem to disappoint this time of yr.
Mechelle (1:05 PM)
I think you never count out Georgia. It's a program that's been to 5 Final Fours, so there's such a history of success. Even though they haven't "won it all" they are still contenders so often that you figure one of these days it will happen. And with the guard play and post play they have, they are a threat to anybody.
David (Sydney, NSW)
Any comment on Conradt's retirement at Texas? Seems like a huge loss for the game.
Mechelle (1:07 PM)
Coach Conradt has done so much for her program and her university. But she's 65 and has been leading the Longhorns for 31 years. I'm sure she felt in her heart it was time to step aside, and she did that because she wants what's best for Texas. I still think she has a "role" in women's basketball, though.
What are you thoughts on Ohio St getting a #4 seed? Seems awfully low for 28-3 team. I know they have a major player out, but I thought seeding was based on the body of work, and not what the team was likely to do in the tourney.
Mechelle (1:11 PM)
I was surprised, but I guess the committee is weighing the loss of Brandie Hoskins heavily. That's the thing about trying to figure out what the committee is thinking - you can't be sure, and it's difficult for them to explain it a lot of the time.
Jay, Nashville, TN
No La Tech for the first time ever. Is it the final milestone at the end of an era? The firm establishment of "Big Time College Sports" in women's basketball? Possibly parity of some sort?
Mechelle (1:14 PM)
I think it's just a reflection of how good La. Tech was for SO long against a lot of odds. When other programs like it began to fall back in the pack, La. Tech managed to stay in front. It's still a great women's basketball community, though, and the program is still going to have success. It's just hard to sustain anything so long that's at such a high level.
Phil (Ann Arbor, MI)
Any thoughts about Rutgers' 4 seed and possibly playing both MSU and Duke again?
Mechelle (1:16 PM)
Rutgers lost great seniors and had injuries to deal with and lots of young players to get into the mix. And now, by the end of the season, we're seeing how well the Scarlet Knights have coped with all of that. The seed reflects the whole season, but the team is really dangerous now. As its success in the Big East tournament shows.
Hey Michelle -- just wanted to give a shout out to the Retrievers of my alma mater, UMBC whom I hope will at least hang with UCONN in the Battle of the Dawgs at Hartford.
Mechelle (1:19 PM)
March is about stories like this, too, the against-the-odds underdogs who are so excited just to be taking part. But ... they want to make a good showing, too. You know they'll give it their all. Congrats to UMBC!
Is there any way you see Bowling Green making a run into the elite eight for a rematch with Duke? Or would Vanderbilt be too much for them?
Mechelle (1:22 PM)
I saw Bowling Green in person back in 2005 give Kansas State a big scare in the first round. I thought, "This is a program that is probably going to make a big breakthrough in the tourney one of these years." Maybe it's this year. Like all the mid-major powers, it's just tougher to gauge their progress once conference season starts because they are usually so dominant in league play. And I also think Oklahoma State, BG's first-round game, is pretty good - the Cowgirls' B12 first-round loss aside.
if temple can get by nebraska, is there any chance they can hang with duke?
Mechelle (1:24 PM)
With Dawn Staley coaching, yes, there's always a chance. I think she and Temple have shown a lot of grit, and they won't be overwhelmed by the situation. That first-round game with the Huskers should be really good.
Russ, Tempe, AZ
Hey Michelle--do you think the ASU Lady Sundevils are good enough to make a deep run in the tournement? Possibly a darkhorse that will surprise many people?
Mechelle (1:26 PM)
Arizona State is always physical and tough to play against. There's a lot of senior leadership on that team, too. I don't think anyone should be too "surprised" by anything the Sun Devils might do, though, because they have a lot of pieces in place for a good run.
Barry (Baltimore, MD)
Who get out of severely top heavy Dayton? (Any of top five seeds could move on)
Mechelle (1:30 PM)
Lots and lots of questions today about the Dayton Regional. I don't think the committee explained this one very well - it is WAY loaded. As for who gets out - I picked Oklahoma - because I "have" to pick somebody and the Sooners have been really playing well lately. But obviously it could be any of those top four. What a region to be No. 5 MTSU. Sheesh. If somone would have said at the beginning of the season those four teams could end up in the same region, I don't think I would have believed it.
Nathan (Pelzer, SC)
Do you see Tennessee winning the national championship this year?
Mechelle (1:32 PM)
I see Tennessee winning the national championship every year. Same with UConn. They are always there in the thick of the race.
Mike (Abingdon, VA)
CAA women got more teams into the Big Dance than the CAA men! Do you think any of the three -- Delaware, James Madison or Old Dominion -- have Cinderella potential? Go Hens!
Mechelle (1:35 PM)
These are all pretty good teams that do have a chance to pull some upsets. But they all run into large obstacles pretty quickly.
Chris (Oklahoma City, OK)
How far do you think the tar heels will go in the tournament and how tough is their region?
Mechelle (1:37 PM)
I would guess a lot of folks looked at the regions and picked Dallas or Greensboro as the so-called "easiest." Sometimes, of course, those predictions don't turn out to be true. That said, I think if North Carolina plays to its potential, no one in that region can beat the Tar Heels. Few in any region can.
Have you since FaKara Malone play at Purdue. Your impressions?
Mechelle (1:38 PM)
She has really impressed me. She had great quickness and court sense. She's been an integral part of Purdue's success this season.
Lane (Kukuihaele, HI)
Do you think LSU will be distracted by the Chatman controversy or can they beat Stanford and UCONN to make the Final Four?
Mechelle (1:41 PM)
Lots of questions about LSU, too, of course. Honestly, my heart goes out to the players. This is supposed to be their best, most fun time of year and it's been taken away from them by these circumstances. But ... athletes can be amazingly strong-willed and deal with adversity. This is a team with Final Four experience, and Coach Starkey is going to do everything possible to help them get through this. I would think unless they are playing "your team" everybody is rooting for them.
kevin (macon ga)
Do you think we'll ever get the whole story regarding the Pokey Chatman situation?
Mechelle (1:44 PM)
I doubt it. We usually don't in situations like this. It doesn't matter what school or company or whatever something like this may happen. That's just the way it usually goes.
Lyn (W Lafayette)
What the biggest change or difference in the W game since you took interest?
Mechelle (1:46 PM)
Maybe the fact that so many people have gotten interested. There are more questions on this chat than I could answer in five days. Especially with as long as it takes me to answer questions. :) The improvement of the game has led to greater fan interest. It's a blast to watch teams at the level we'll see them in the NCAA Tournament.
JoJo (Dallas, TX)
Think Maryland could get hot again and make a run at the title?
Mechelle (1:46 PM)
I can answer this one quickly - absolutely.
Anthony (greensboro nc)
What is your feeling on Lindsay Harding chances of getting National Player of the Year. Compare her to Candace Parker and what each of them bring to their teams.
Mechelle (1:49 PM)
I don't know how everyone will vote, and this is part of the media's "job" I don't like. It's like picking between Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet for an Oscar. They're all awesome. How could you go wrong? That's what it's like picking between Lindsey, Candace and Courtney Paris this year.
Tara (Houston, TX)
How do you think Baylor is going to do this year (can they make it past NC State)? Also, what are the odds Coach Mulkey leaves for LSU to UT?
Mechelle (1:51 PM)
Again, lots of Kim Mulkey questions. Baylor desperately wants to keep her. I would think lots of programs would be interested, looking at what she's done in Waco. Lots of huge jobs open, that's for sure. Baylor is a very athletic and dynamic team, but still with youngsters who are inconsistent. If Baylor plays N.C. State in the second round, that could be one of the best games of the tournament.
kevin (macon ga)
What was your biggest surprise when the brackets came out? UL-Lafayette getting in gets my vote.
Mechelle (1:53 PM)
Yes, that and the top four in the Dayton Region really surprised me. But in general, I think the committee came up with a pretty good bracket.
kevin (macon ga)
Has there ever been a time with so many big time coaching vacancies all at once? LSU, Texas, Florida, and maybe UCLA are all searching.
Mechelle (1:57 PM)
I can't think of any time in recent history there were so many big jobs at once. There was a lot of job action after the 2002 season, lots of dominoes falling when Jim Foster left for Ohio State and things like that. But this year is really going to be interesting.
Shawn (Denver, CO)
There's always talk this time of year about the relative strength of conferences. In your expert opinion, which conference can claim the title as strongest in 2006-07?
Mechelle (2:01 PM)
The easy answer is the ACC at the top - that's indisputable. Nobody has beaten them out of their conference. But the Big East, of course, got the most bids and was really competitive this season. Lots of good matchups in that league all season. I've been watching the Big 12 since it started, and this was the most unpredictable year in terms of picking games.
Nice way to avoid answering on Tennessee's chances for a National Championship....who is YOUR pick for real?
Mechelle (2:07 PM)
Look ... my picks are as worthless as the next person's. More worthless if you look at my track record. But for what it's worth (nothing) I'll pick Duke again. I picked Duke last year and was wrong. I picked Baylor in 2005. At least that's what I tell everyone now. I can't really remember for sure. :) However I do want to go on the record as saying in April 1993 that I picked North Carolina to win the NCAA title the next year - and the Heels did. I told a co-worker who wasn't even listening, but darn it, I remember that one.
Randy (Roberts Montana)
How is it possible that Montana, ranked 25th in the Nation does not get a spot in the Tournament?
Mechelle (2:08 PM)
Montana was another one of the surprises, because it had a case to be in. But ... the committee left out a lot of teams that were upset in their conference tournaments.
SAL BOSTON MA
Hi there! Do you think this is the year of the Huskies? What does UCONN have to do to make it thru and win it all? I really think they can do it but just worry about one down night like they had against rutgers....what is your opinion? Thank you!
Mechelle (2:11 PM)
If there's such a thing as UConn being "under the radar" this team has been that. Certainly not in New England, but nationally. I think Coach Auriemma might not mind that. He loves being the top-dog and doesn't shy from that pressure ever, but this is a change of pace that UConn can take advantage of, perhaps. The high-level fundamental skills the Huskies ALWAYS teach and develop mean the program is a threat every year. The players change, but the way UConn plays is pretty consistently excellent.
Do you think iowa state could make a big run in the tourn?
Mechelle (2:14 PM)
The Cyclones put on the show of the Big 12 tournament by making it all the way to the title game. Iowa State is always a difficult matchup for the league teams that see the Cyclones regularly. It's got to be really TOUGH when you aren't used to them. Foes have to figure out ISU's defensive adjustments (which is hard) and fully realize that EVERY Cyclone can shoot the 3. Those are some of the reasons ISU is capable of pulling upsets.
Jason (Swansea, IL)
Which team in the field was the least expected at the start of the year? My pick - Okla St. They were 6-22 last year, and 0-16 in Big XII play. For them to go 20-10, 8-8 is pretty remarkable to me. Your thoughts?
Mechelle (2:16 PM)
I agree - it's a pretty amazingly quick climb from where the program was. Kurt Budke brought in a lot of new players -10 - and they played his style. The thing is Oklahoma State pretty easily could have won at least three or four other Big 12 games, too ... they lost those on buzzerbeaters.
Sheldon Moore, Louisville,KY
How far is Louisville going in the tournament?
Mechelle (2:18 PM)
Interesting team with a really, really good player in Angel McCoughtry. Especially considering where they are in the Greensboro bracket, you can see maybe this team could make a little run. This is not to disparage any other team there by any means, just saying that the potential appears to exist.
Christy (Pleasant Hill, CA)
Do you see any possible major upsets?
Mechelle (2:21 PM)
Right now, I think I'd be surprised at a "major" upset ... my first run through the bracket yesterday, No. 6 Xavier in the Fresno regional stood out to me as a potential big upset team. And though I said I thouht Middle Tennessee was "worse" than their seed - because we have to run those charts and I have to pick *somebody* to be worse - I could be WAY off base on that one. Considering MTSU's winning streak, maybe they are a giant killer. They're in the region of the giants, that's for sure.
How deep does Vandy go?
Mechelle (2:24 PM)
Vandy has a really savvy point guard, experienced post play and is a terrific 3-point shooting team. The SEC tourney win just increased Vandy's confidence. I would expect Vandy is going to live up to its seed, which is making the regional final.
Brandon, palo altom ca
What is your take on Stanford? With them being in the Fresno bracket, are they a favorite to go to the final four?
Mechelle (2:27 PM)
Stanford has had another tough year in terms of injuries, but it's got to help that the Cardinal can stay in California. If it ends up being Stanford and UConn in that Fresno final, that will be VERY interesting. And with that, I need to sign off. Thanks for all the questions and sorry about the ones I didn't get to. I hope you all enjoy the tournament.