Staying East Of The Mississippi

By Jeff Lippman - March 23, 2008

It's Sunday. The weekend is nearing an end. Thankfully, because the locations of today's first round games - College Park, Md., West Lafayette, Ind., Norfolk, Va. and Bridgeport, Conn. - are all in the Eastern Standard Time Zone, these games will be over at a normal hour.

There are 16 more games of opening-round action today, and just as all four No. 2s played on Saturday, Sunday sees the four top seeds hit the court.

I'll tell you right now. I'm predicting four victories by the top seeds. No need to even go over them.

Like Saturday, many of today's games have already been predicted and studied here. And the first game of the day falls under that category as we start in the Spokane Regional where Xavier (9) and Nebraska (8) get set to tangle.

I went with Xavier.

Here is the rest of the day's action:

Spokane Regional

Coppin State (16) vs. Maryland (1) - College Park, Md. - noon
The Terps are the top seed and they are playing at home. Can you say, "easy win?" I thought you could.

Oklahoma City Regional

Illinois State (13) vs. Oklahoma (4) - West Lafayette, Ind. - noon
The Redbirds won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Oklahoma underachieved this year. Do you see where I'm going with this?

Actually, I was going to say that Oklahoma shouldn't have any problem making it into the second round. Illinois State hasn't seen anything the likes of Courtney Paris. The Eiffel Tower is averaging 18 points and 15 boards a game and has a ridiculous 90 consecutive double-doubles. The Redbirds will be crushed.

SMU (12) vs. Notre Dame (5) - West Lafayette, Ind. - 2:30 p.m.
It's interesting, but you would think that playing in Indiana would be a good thing for Notre Dame. Historically, it's not. The Irish actually defeated Purdue in West Lafayette this season for the first time in 10 tries. Of course, Purdue had a down year for its standards and the Irish, ranked No. 15 in the AP, are having a sensational year.

With that said, playing in West Lafayette will be nothing but a positive as the stands will be littered with leprechauns. Notre Dame should advance without much issue.

Purdue (9) vs. Utah (8) - West Lafayette, Ind. - 7 p.m.
First, let me start by saying I already explained why I picked Utah to win this game. That said, the fact that the Boilermakers were awarded for having a sub-par season and winning a terrible conference's tournament by getting a home game in the opening round against a team who had a great regular season but lost its conference tournament.

Although I don't think it is fair that Purdue plays in West Lafayette, I'm still picking Leilani Mitchell and Utah to advance.

Murray State (14) vs. Duke (3) - College Park, Md. - 7:15 p.m.
The Racers are coming into the tournament having won nine straight games and they've been straight killing folks, with the last six being by 10 or more points.

But, Duke is also coming in on a positive note, having upset Maryland in the semifinals and played tight against rival North Carolina in the championship of the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils earned that 3-seed and as such will play and overmatched Murray State team.

Joanne P. McCallie should pick up the first NCAA Tournament win in her Duke career.

ORU (16) vs. Tennessee (1) - West Lafayette, Ind. - 9 p.m.
Remember when Oral Roberts' mascot went crazy in the men's Summit League Championship game and attacked IUPUI's mascot? Well, that damn dog in overalls better watch out, the Golden Eagle is coming for you. Who knew "Rocky Top" was a trigger in his eagle brain to attack? Not me.

Oh, as for the game? Yeah, Tennessee will be up by 10 from the opening tip. No contest.

Temple (11) vs. Arizona State (6) - College Park, Md. - 9 p.m.
Already having studied this game in a previous post, at that time I picked Temple to pull the upset over Arizona State. I'd like to add something to that.

The game is being played in College Park, which isn't very far down I-95 from Philly and Temple's campus. Shoot, I thought Dawn Staley, Lady Comfort and the Owls could drop the Sun Devils on a court halfway across the country, but one that's 45 minutes away? That should be no problem.

New Orleans Regional

Chattanooga (12) vs. Kansas State (5) - Bridgeport, Ct. - 12:15 p.m.
This game could be a lot closer than most would expect. In fact, the Lady Mocs could pull this upset, for two reasons.

First, the Lady Mocs currently own the nation's longest winning streak at 24 games and are beating opponents by over 18 points per game since their last loss to Alabama A&M. Chattanooga is just 1-9 in the NCAA Tournament in its history, however, you could also look at it like they're do. And their coach, Wes Moore, believes they can do it.

And the other reason, Kansas State isn't at full strength. The Wildcats lost in their first game of the Big 12 Tournament against Iowa State and, in the process, lost leading scorer and senior leader Kimberly Dietz to a career-ending injury. Without Deitz, K-State will look to Shalee Lehning to lead them. Lehning is averaging 19.0 points, 10.4 boards and 6.2 assists in her last five games, but the leadership of Dietz will be missed.

With that said, I'm still picking Kansas State to pull this one out. But it will be a good one.

Bucknell (16) vs. North Carolina (1) - Norfolk, Va. - 12:30 p.m.
North Carolina will make mince meat out of the Bison. It won't be healthy for the small school from Pennsylvania, that's for certain.

Iowa (9) vs. Georgia (8) - Norfolk, Va. - 2:30 p.m.
This is a tough call. On the one hand, Georgia had such a poor season for their standards, underachieving every step of the way, that an upset today would be apropos. On the other hand, Iowa is just a slightly above-average Big Ten team. Big Ten vs. SEC, I usually go SEC every time.

Let's break it down like this. Georgia has Tasha Humphrey in her senior season. Underachieved or not, it's a new season and if Humphrey can put the team on her back, she can lead them. At least past Iowa and the first round.

Miami of Ohio (13) vs. Louisville (4) - Bridgeport, Ct. - 2:30 p.m.
But they both wear red, what gives?

Angel McCoughtry will show the Red Hawks why she's one of the best all-around players in the nation. The Cardinals have been hot of late, only losing to Connecticut in the Big East Tournament finals. They will keep it going today against Miami.

Greensboro Regional

Liberty (12) vs. Old Dominion (5) - Norfolk, Va. - 7:15 p.m.
We've talked for what seems like weeks already about the Lady Flames from Liberty as being an upset special pick. Unfortunately for the Lady Flames, they have to play Old Dominion on its home court.

How unfair is that? Liberty has one of the best records in the country at 27-3, but they get shafted by having to meet an Old Dominion squad who may be overrated as a 5-seed on their own home court! That doesn't sound right. But, unfortunately for the Flames, it is right.

And as such, Old Dominion pulls this one out.

Cornell (16) vs. Connecticut (1) - Bridgeport, Ct. - 7:20 p.m.
Ha ha. A laugher. Still, this one will be on television. The more air time for Maya Moore, the better.

Minnesota (9) vs. Texas (8) - Bridgeport, Ct. - 9 p.m.
Once again, here we have a case of a Big Ten vs. anyone else. I'm almost always going to go with anyone else. The Gophers will be used and abused as Texas coach Gail Goestenkors picks up her first win with the 'Horns.

UC Santa Barbara (13) vs. Virginia (4) - Norfolk, Va. - 9 p.m.
Virginia playing in the state of Virginia? What is it with this state? I thought the saying was, "Virginia is for lovers," not, "Virginia is for unfair home-court advantages."

Stop crying Santa Barbara, you were going to lose this game regardless of where it was played. It could have even been played in Santa Barbara. Monica Wright and her Wahoos are advancing.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 10:10 AM on March 23, 2008

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