We've reach the second round (the tenuous 32?). So let's talk some hoops. Thanks for stopping by.
What was the biggest surprise in the first round? For me, it has to be Pat's team crashing out.
Agreed, Ball State made it pretty easy on us to answer that one this year, although UTSA nearly topped it against Baylor. The other upsets didn't seem all that shocking (Gonzaga, Mississippi State, San Diego State, etc.), but I'll own up to completely underestimating Ball State. They just played a fantastic game. It wasn't quiet as seismc, but Notre Dame losing at home surprised me quite a bit, even as up and down as they've been.
And speaking of Ball State, how must Bowling Green be feeling after watching that game? We still think Georgia deserved that at-large spot more than the MAC regular-season champs?
Do you think the women's tournament is basically just an exercise to see who UConn will beat this year?
In a sense, sure, that's fair. If you play this tournament out 100 times, Connecticut probably wins 90 times, maybe 99 times. So it's a bit of a stretch to talk about who might beat them. But I think the balance of the rest of the field makes for a really compelling few weeks to see which team will get that one shot to be perfect on one night.
The men's tournament seems to always have that 12 over 5 upset. Last night Tennessee loses to Ball STate in a 12 over 5 game. Are those upsets common in the women's tournament?
They haven't been nearly as common, but we had two this year, with Ball State and Gonzaga, Doesn't mean we have parity, whatever that looks like, but it seems like a good indication that we keep moving toward it.
what one moment stands out for you so far in the tournament?
There hasn't been a lot of drama where I've been in Piscataway and College Park, other than what Rutgers backed into late against VCU, so that sort of narrows my options. Watching the Ball State kids start to realize they were going to win in the final minutes was pretty cool.
Which player has had the best performance through the first round?
Not sure if it was the best performance overall -- it certainly wasn't the highest point total -- but Baylor's Melissa Jones had probably the most valuable performance for a shorthanded team staring down a monumental upset loss against Texas-San Antonio. Kalee Whipple played a great all-around game where I was yesterday, DeWanna Bonner was as good as advertised in her game, Gonzaga's Heather Bowman and Courtney Vandersloot were terrific. Lots of good individual performances so far.
does auburn make it to the final four?
Can I get back to you in about 10 hours? Auburn did what it had to do against Lehigh, but the game tonight against Rutgers on the Scarlet Knights' home court is going to reveal a lot about the Tigers. If they can go into a hostile environment and win against an outstanding defensive team that can get hot shooting the ball from behind the arc at times, I'll be sold. They did that once at LSU but doing it in the NCAA tournament will be a new test.
Do you think Sacred Heart University Center Kaitlin Sowinski has a shot at playing in the WNBA?
Good effort out of them to give Ohio State a scare in Columbus. As for the WNBA, it's a bad year for anyone not in that top handful of picks. Without the Comets and with smaller rosters, it's going to be really, really tough for just about any rookie outside that top group to make a roster.
What would be the weaknesses that a team could exploit against UConn?
Well, St. Louis is in a different time zone from Storrs, so maybe they can hope the Huskies get confused on the start time? Honestly, I don't know that beating Connecticut will really be about exploiting a weakness. They aren't especially deep, obviously, so I guess if you can get into the lane and draw some fouls, it might be something. But that's a stretch. If UConn loses, it's more likely to be a case of the Huskies shooting themselves in the foot and another team shooting the lights out.
Best matchup from Piscataway?
Trevesha Jackson vs. Kia Vaughn? Rutgers is a different team when they get Vaughn involved, and Jackson is kind of the unsung defense-rebounding stalwart who has helped cover for the loss of Jordan Greenleaf.
What's the game that you wish you could have seen, instead of being in Piscataway?
Can I look ahead and say Baylor vs, South Dakota State Tuesday night in Lubbock? For the first round, Michigan State-Middle Tennessee State looked like a heck of a game, complete with controversial foul call on Alysha Clark late.
Does Mississippi State have a shot at pulling another upset on Ohio State?
I've got the Bulldogs moving on to the Sweet 16, so ... probably not. But my jinx aside, yeah, I like their chances. Ohio State is a good team, don't get me wrong, but outside of Lavender, they don't seem like a team that can really impose its offensive will. And against a defense like Mississippi State, that could be a recipe for a game that comes down to the wire.
How much better is the current pod system the tournament is using versus the one they had a number of years ago?
The current system just feels like a bad compromise, like sit in the middle of the road and get hit from both sides. If you're going to make the concession that it's better to utilize some home courts to help attendance, just go all the way and go back to the higher seeds hosting for the first two rounds. If you're going to do something inherently unfair (and I don't disagree with doing it, but it's certainly unfair in an abstract sense) then at least favor the teams that earned it in the regular season. Neutral sites are what everyone wants in the long run -- I think -- but we're not there yet.
What are we looking at tonight with Auburn and Rutgers?
Which team controls the pace, and along those lines, how much does Rutgers press to try and make Whitney Boddie, and others, expend energy getting the ball up the court. And from the flip side, how does Rutgers match up with DeWanna Bonner? That looks like a really bad match-up, if you're trying to go one-on-one, unless maybe McCurdy is ready to play a lot of minutes.
Maryland and Utah each won by 30 points in the first round. Will this one be a close one, or another blow out for one of the teams?
Utah has its work cut out for it. Maryland didn't even shoot all that well, or at least as well as it can, against Dartmouth and just overwhelmed the Big Green. Obviously, the Utes are a significantly tougher opponent, but I wonder where the points are going to come from after Warburton and Whipple, because it's going to take 80 to beat the Terrapins. Can Katie King find the same room in the post against Kizer and Miles that she did against Nova?
Any chance ASU can pull the upset on FSU?
Sure, that could end up being an intriguing game. I didn't see the ASU-Georgia game, but it didn't look from the numbers like the Sun Devils played a fantastic offensive game. They just did what ASU teams can do on defense to harass opponents. If January and Orsillo can get going, Florida State may have a game on its hands.
Do the two 12 seeds have any shot at a Sweet 16 berth?
Both have real shots. Iowa State enters that game against Ball State as the heavy favorite, but great shooting teams can go cold, and Ball State is going to come in with all the momentum in the world, just like Marist in 2007. But to me, Gonzaga is the better bet. They're playing relatively close to home, and should definitely have the crowd on their side, and they match up well with Pitt after showing they can still get their shots against a good Xavier defense with a dominant interior presence.
how far can the jackrabbits of sdsu realistically make it?
Realistically, they could make it to St. Louis. Odds are they won't, but we wouldn't be talking about one of the greatest upsets in tournament history if they did. They've already shown they can hang with the best team in the region, Maryland, despite playing that game earlier this season without one of their key guards.
All right, got to cut out a few minutes early. Thanks for all the questions and enjoy the games tonight!