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One look at the 63 NCAA women’s tourney games
Question of the Day
With three other really talented No. 1 seeds, it is hardly a foregone conclusion this year that UConn will win a third straight national championship.
Here's one look at the 63 games and how they might pan out. It's guaranteed to remain unblemished until at least Saturday's opening-round game (seedings in parentheses, winners in uppercase):
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Hartford (16)_ The Hawks haven't beaten UConn in 11 meetings, wouldn't count on that trend ending in the first round.
PURDUE (9) vs. Kansas State (8) _ The Boilermakers have been a different team since Drey Mingo returned from bacterial meningitis.
GEORGETOWN (5) vs. Princeton (12) _ The Tigers have played really well without sophomore star Niveen Rasheed, who went down with an ACL injury. Unfortunately they won't be able to handle the Hoyas' pressure defense.
MARYLAND (4) vs. Saint Francis, Pa. (13) _ The Red Flash are trying to win the NEC's first NCAA tournament game. It will be tough to do at Maryland.
PENN STATE (6) vs. Dayton (11) _ Back in the tournament for the first time since 2005, the Nittany Lions don't plan on making it a short stay.
DEPAUL (3) vs. Navy (14) _ The Blue Demons will end a streak of first-round exits the past two years.
MARIST (10) vs. Iowa State (7) _ Will be one of the most entertaining first-round games with a tremendous matchup between Red Foxes guard Erica Allenspach and the Cyclones' Kelsey Bolte. Difference will be Marist's nation-leading defense.
DUKE (2) vs. Tennessee-Martin (15) _ The Blue Devils will make the Skyhawks' first trip to the NCAAs a short one.
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Purdue (9) _ UConn hasn't lost at home in 81 games, don't expect that trend to end.
MARYLAND (4) vs. Georgetown (5) _ Brenda Frese has compared this young Maryland squad to the one that won the title in 2006. Freshman Alyssa Thomas will be the difference in this Beltway rivalry.
DEPAUL (3) vs. Penn State (6) _ The Blue Demons will need to stop freshman star Maggie Lucas to advance out of State College.
DUKE (2) vs. Marist (10) _ The Blue Devils' backcourt of Jasmine Thomas and Chelsea Gray will prove to be the difference.
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Maryland (5) _ The Terps have the size to cause problems for the depleted UConn bench, but they have no answer for Maya Moore.
DEPAUL (3) vs. Duke (2) _ Felicia Chester will provide the difference inside as the Blue Demons top the Blue Devils.
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. DePaul (3) _ The Huskies shot 70 percent to beat the Blue Demons in Storrs in early February. Unfortunately for DePaul, most of the shots came off layups. Expect a better defensive effort by Doug Bruno's squad, but not enough to stop UConn from advancing.
TENNESSEE (1) vs. Stetson (16) _ Victoria McGowan already had the play of the season hitting a 55-footer at the buzzer to get Stetson to the conference tournament final, if this came down to a last-second shot, advantage Hatters. Unfortunately the Lady Vols are too big and too good.
MARQUETTE (8) vs. Texas (9) _ The Golden Eagles have found ways to win close games all season, going 6-2 in games decided by five points or fewer. This senior-dominated team will do it again against the Longhorns.
BOWLING GREEN (12) vs. Georgia Tech (5) _ Three of Bowling Green's four losses this season were by one point. Coach Curt Miller demanded a lot from his senior-led squad and they've delivered. Now they'll do it on the biggest stage yet.
OHIO STATE (4) vs. Central Florida (13) _ Which Ohio State shows up in the NCAA tournament? The one that ran through the Big Ten tournament or the team that struggled in the middle of the season.
OKLAHOMA (6) vs. James Madison (11) _ Dawn Evans will be the best player on the court, but she may need to score 40 points for the Dukes to pull off the upset. Oklahoma has made the Final Four the past two seasons and won't let this year end in the first round.
MIAMI (3) vs. Gardner-Webb (14) _ Coach Katie Meier has helped Miami make one of the biggest turnarounds this season. With its stellar backcourt, the Hurricanes will make their first trip to the NCAAs in seven years last more than one game.
TEMPLE (10) vs. Arizona State (7) _ Offense may be hard to come by with these two strong defenses. Temple guard Shey Peddy will be the difference in this one.
NOTRE DAME (2) vs. Utah (15) _ The Irish are primed for a deep run in the NCAA tournament. After going 14-16 in the regular season and 7-9 in conference, the young Utes won four games in five days to become the first No. 5 seed to win the MWC tourney
TENNESSEE (1) vs. Marquette (8) _ Freshman guard Meighan Simmons has been stellar all year giving the Lady Vols a speedster. She will be too much for the Golden Eagles.
BOWLING GREEN (12) vs. Ohio State (4) _ Jantel Lavender will try and keep the Buckeyes from another early exit, but Lauren Prochaska gets it done on both ends of the floor and the two-time MAC player of the year will lift the Falcons in this battle of Ohio.
OKLAHOMA (6) vs. Miami (3) _ The backcourt matchup should be very entertaining, but Sooners' NCAA experience will lift them out of the second round.
NOTRE DAME (2) vs. Temple (10) _ Owls coach Tonya Cardoza is well aware of how talented the Irish are with her time spent as an assistant at Connecticut. Unfortunately, she doesn't have enough weapons to keep pace with the potent Notre Dame offense.
TENNESSEE (1) vs. Bowling Green (12) _ The Falcons' run will come to an end as the Lady Vols' size and length will be too much to handle.
NOTRE DAME (2) vs. Oklahoma (6) _ The Irish are really good when Devereaux Peters plays well. She'll get them to the regional finals with a strong effort against a undermanned Sooners frontline.
TENNESSEE (1) vs. Notre Dame (2) _ Angie Borkland and Meighan Simmons will shoot the Lady Vols past the Irish and back to the Final Four.
STANFORD (1) vs. UC Davis (16) _ It sounds cold, but the Ogwumike sisters might be able to win this one by themselves.
ST. JOHN'S (9) vs. Texas Tech (8) _ The Red Storm made it to the NCAAs for consecutive seasons for the first time in 28 years. They will win their first-round game for the second straight season too.
NORTH CAROLINA (5) vs. Fresno State (12) _ The Bulldogs finally found a way to beat Louisiana Tech in the WAC title game. Topping the athletic Tar Heels will be a tougher test.
KENTUCKY (4) vs. Hampton (13) _ The Wildcats' pressure defense will be too much for the Lady Pirates, who will see their 13-game winning streak come to an end. At least they will put forth a better showing than last season's 72-37 loss to Duke in the first round.
GONZAGA (11) vs. Iowa (6) _ Playing at home for the first two rounds will buoy the Zags to a first-round upset of the Hawkeyes.
UCLA (3) vs. Montana (14) _ The Bruins have played really well all season except when the Cardinal were the opponent. Nikki Caldwell will have her team ready for the Grizzlies.
LOUISVILLE (7) vs. Vanderbilt (10) _ Shoni Schimmel is one of the top freshmen in the country and her NCAA debut will be a memorable one for Jeff Walz.
XAVIER (2) vs. South Dakota State (15) _ Two seasons ago, the Jackrabbits would have had enough to pull off the upset. Not this year against a Musketeers team that's on a mission.
STANFORD (1) vs. St. John's (9) _ The inside play of the Cardinal will be way too much for the Red Storm to handle. Not to mention the homecourt advantage that Stanford has.
NORTH CAROLINA (5) vs. Kentucky (4) _ Jessica Breland has been one of the nation's most inspiring stories this season with her return from Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She won't let her senior season end in the second round.
GONZAGA (11) vs. UCLA (3) _ Courtney Vandersloot will show why she's the best point guard in the country, shredding the Bruins' pressure defense and giving the Zags a second straight upset.
XAVIER (2) vs. Louisville (7) _ The inside tandem of Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips will be way too much for the Cardinals.
STANFORD (1) vs. North Carolina (5) _ The Tar Heels are one of the only teams in the country with the size to matchup well with the Cardinal. Unfortunately for Sylvia Hatchell they don't have enough defense to slow down the talented guards on Stanford.
XAVIER (2) vs. Gonzaga (11) _ Amber Harris will raise her game in a battle of size vs. speed. The Zags' amazing run will come to an end.
STANFORD (1) vs. Xavier (2) _ The Musketeers had their chance to pull off the upset last season of the Cardinal. Two missed layups by Xavier and then an end-to-end run by Jeanette Pohlen gave Stanford that win. No last-second miracle will be needed this time as the Cardinal advance to their fourth straight Final Four.
BAYLOR (1) vs. Prairie View (16) _ Could Brittney Griner get a triple double in limited action?
WEST VIRGINIA (9) vs. Houston (8) _ Todd Buchanan has gotten the Cougars to the NCAA tournament in his first season in charge. He'll have to wait a year before getting his first tournament victory.
WISCONSIN-GREEN BAY (5) vs. Arkansas-Little Rock (12) _ The Trojans have lost twice since Dec. 11 and that was by a combined five points. Unfortunately they run into a very, very good Phoenix squad that has only lost once all year.
MICHIGAN STATE (4) vs. Northern Iowa (13) _ The Panthers made a late-season run to get to the NCAAs, the Spartans won't let Northern Iowa's first trip to the tournament be a long one.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (11) vs. Georgia (6) _ The Blue Raiders will ride the emotion of the tragic death of Tina Stewart to a first-round upset.
FLORIDA STATE (3) vs. Samford (14) _ Throw out a loss at Yale and the Seminoles only other defeats came to ranked opponents. Samford doesn't have enough offense to hang around.
RUTGERS (7) vs. Louisiana Tech (10) _ The Scarlet Knights made their typical late-season run to finish a surprising fourth in the Big East. Playing in Louisiana won't be easy, but C. Vivian Stringer's patented defensive philosophy will slow down the Lady Techsters.
TEXAS A&M (2) vs. McNeese State (15) _ The Cowgirls shoot just under 41 percent on the season, but haven't faced a defense as tough as the Aggies.
BAYLOR (1) vs. West Virginia (9) _ A disappointing season will come to an end for the Mountaineers, who started the year 14-0 before falling apart in the tough Big East conference.
WISCONSIN-GREEN BAY (5) vs. Michigan State (4) _ Before this season, only 14 teams have entered the NCAA tournament with at least 30 victories and no more than one loss. All have made it out of the second round. The Phoenix won't end that streak.
FLORIDA STATE (3) vs. Middle Tennessee State (11) _ The Seminoles will put an end to the Blue Raiders tournament as freshman Natasha Howard will prove to be a tough matchup.
TEXAS A&M (2) vs. Rutgers (7) _ These two teams met on Dec. 19 in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden and the Aggies won by 29 points. The Scarlet Knights have improved over the past three months. So have the Aggies.
BAYLOR (1) vs. Wisconsin-Green Bay (5) _ The Phoenix will give the Lady Bears their first challenge of the NCAAs, but they have no answer for Brittney Griner in the middle.
TEXAS A&M (2) vs. Florida State (3) _ Danielle Adams will cause problems for the Seminoles on the offensive end and the Aggies will shut down Florida State's offense.
BAYLOR (1) vs. Texas A&M (2) _ It's tough to beat a team three times in a season and Baylor's already done that to Texas A&M. The fourth time will be another battle. Gary Blair's team will just fall short again as Lady Bears freshman Odyssey Sims will be the difference.
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Tennessee (1)_ Surely there won't be any hype on this game _ the first between the perennial women's basketball powerhouses since 2007. Both Hall of Fame coaches will try and put the focus on the game and not why the rivalry ended. Just as she did when she chose UConn over Tennessee, Maya Moore will break the hearts of Lady Vols fans again by ending their season.
STANFORD (1) vs. Baylor (1) _ Sadly all the focus will be on the other semifinal matchup and this will be one great game. Just like last season, the Lady Bears' run will end in the Final Four as the Cardinal have just enough outside shooting from Jeanette Pohlen for the victory.
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Stanford (1) _ The rematch of last season's title game that had one of the worst offensive showings ever by both teams in the first half. The Cardinal ended the Huskies' record 90-game winning streak in December. UConn will get payback with its third straight national championship.
By Michael P. Orsi
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