Lou-UConn: Hello Here In Hartford

By Jeff Lippman - March 05, 2007

All alliteration aside--I know I just did it again--Tonight's semifinal action in the 2007 Big East Tournament will be huge.

The first game of the night pits 26-6 Louisville, the five seed, versus everybody's tournament favorite, the big dogs, Connecticut (28-2).

The second game is a matchup between the No. 2 Rutgers and No. 3 Marquette, more on that later.

Each remaining team boasts one player who took home some postseason Big East hardware. Rutgers' junior Essence Carson was named Defensive Player of the Year. Connecticut's 6-foot-4 woman-child center Tina Charles was tabbed Freshman of the Year. Terri Mitchell, coach of Marquette, won the Coach of the Year award in her 11th season at the helm. And finally, the Big East Player of the Year award goes to Louisville's Angel McCoughtry, a sophomore forward from Baltimore.

Although the Cardinals have McCoughtry leading the way, UConn has its own impressive sophomore in Renee Montgomery, who easily could have been Player of the Year as well. Averaging 13 ppg and leading the No. 3 team in the country in steals and assists, Montgomery is only getting better as the year drags on.

The last time these two teams met was on Feb. 13 at Gampel Pavilion, with UConn winning that one while doing the laundry and watching the soaps. It didn't take much effort to trounce the Cardinals that night, 84-56.

In fact, despite them playing in the same conference--Louisville joined only a year ago--the two teams have only met three times in history, with Connecticut winning the last two and Louisville taking the first way back in the 1993 NCAA Tournament.

And with Louisville having to play an extra game and UConn getting a first-round bye, the Cardinals should be a little more winded than the Huskies. Although 'Ville did look good defeating West Virginia by 12 points in the quarterfinals.

So, it seems, the chips are stacked against Louisville in this one, not much reason to give them a chance against one of the best and most storied programs the women's game has ever seen.

But wait! There's this...

Already in the other two power conferences, the ACC and the SEC, the number one, unbeatable team has gone down. Upsets are occuring much more frequently as teams begin to get a feel of one another.

No. 1 unbeatable Duke got taken out by upstart N.C. State. No. 2 and equally unbeatable in the SEC, Tennessee was held to just four Candace Parker points en route to LSU sending them home early. So why not Connecticut?

In my estimation, the Huskies aren't as solid as the two previously mentioned teams above, but, if UConn can win the Big East tournament, it might mean earning a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed in the region of their choice, AKA, Hartford.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 05:00 PM on March 05, 2007

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