March 16, 2008

This Year's Marist?

If you want to get technical about it, fine, sure, the Red Foxes are safely embedded within the field of 64 and could very well make another magical run. But they've been there, done that. Let's talk about someone shiny new.

Patrick Henry probably didn't have the 10,500-student Lynchburg, Va., school in mind when he spoke the famous words, "Give me Liberty, or give me death." But whether the country likes it or not, it should get ready to see a whole lot of the Liberty Lady Flames.

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Super Sophomores Shine Saturday

Traditionally, in women's basketball, the more exciting conferences play their tournaments early. Unlike the men, who save their best for last, as the ACC and SEC crown champs on Selection Sunday, the ladies dole out those league titles days before the brackets are finalized.

This season, though, it seems the women did save their very best for the penultimate day of action, as the Big 12 concluded its season Saturday with two teams who had never before even advanced as far as the title game, but who both came out looking like champions.

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March 15, 2008

The Final Major

One more major conference crowns its champion Saturday as the Big 12 reaches its championship. Eight other conference tourneys will come to a close today, as the total number of automatic bids swells to 24 out of 31.

We're just two days away from Selection Monday, with many teams sitting on pins and needles waiting to find out where their tourney fate takes them. If you are Maryland or LSU right now, you're wondering if you'll get that two seed and where you'll have to travel. If you are Temple or Auburn, however, you are wondering if you will have some place to travel at all.

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March 14, 2008

Climbing A Mountain

Before I get into today's topic, I'd just like to show a little remorse for my college basketball fan-dom.

As a Florida alum and a long-time Maryland fan on the men's side, last night saw both teams lose in their opening round conference tournament games. They both played themselves off the bubble. Congratulations, I've nothing to root for come March. I better have a strong bracket.

OK, I'm done venting.

Today's topic is the Mountain West, where as many as three teams from this mid-sized conference enjoyed AP rankings at some point this season. But this isn't about one of those teams. No, this is about a Mountain West school who was never ranked this year. In fact, before the MWC Tournament started, they hadn't won a single game since Dec. 4.

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March 13, 2008

Respect and Expectations

Two governing laws have ruled the Big 12 this season, and they are continuing right through the conference tournament.

Law 1: Expect the unexpected
Law 2: In order to gain respect, you must earn respect

Raise your hand if you expected No. 8 Iowa State to win two games in the Big 12 Tournament, including topping top-seeded Kansas State in overtime to shoot into the semifinals. Anyone?

So what is Iowa State doing? That's right, they're gaining respect. And lot's of it.

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March 12, 2008

No. 1 Overall

Geno Auriemma has so many weapons at his disposal.

The Connecticut Huskies won the Big East Tournament Championship Tuesday over an upstart Louisville club who had been knocking down opponents before meeting the Big East's big dogs.

With the 65-69 victory, No. 1 UConn essentially sealed its fate at becoming the top overall No. 1 seed when the brackets are announced on Selection Monday.

What don't the Huskies have?

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March 11, 2008

The Pac-10's Best....Ever

West Coast women's basketball, it can be accurately stated, has simply lacked entertainment value over the past several years, while teams on the other side of the country - UConn, UNC, Duke, Maryland, Tennessee, etc. - ruled the game.

Lacking or not, the West Coast belongs to Candice Wiggins, and for four years she has always been worth the price of admission.

It's a sad realization for the Pac-10, however, that Wiggins has played her final conference game - an absolute beauty in the conference championship against Bay Area-rival Cal.

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March 10, 2008

It's A Bay Area Monday

Eight teams are already firmly ensconced in the field of 64. Monday, that total rises to 11 as three more conferences play their championship games.

The Atlantic 10, Southern and Pac-10 are all down to their final two participants, while the Big East is a final four that fails to include one team that played in last year's actual Final Four in Cleveland.

Two conferences, the Sun Belt and the Summit League, are in their semifinals as well and two others, the Horizon and the Mid-American, will be completing just their opening rounds.

Here is all of Monday's action:

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March 09, 2008

Legendary Sunday

One legend showed another legend why the SEC's coaches chose the wrong Player of the Year, one conference's top seed completed their wire-to-wire season and another previously unbeaten No. 1's cherry tree was cut down. And in the Big East, an Angel provided the biggest upset of the day.

Don't worry, it will all be explained.

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Six Fill Dance Card

Six teams will join East Tennessee State and Murray State with automatic bids for the Big Dance.

Major conferences, the ACC and the SEC, crown their champs, as does the Big Ten, Conference USA, the MAAC and the West Coast Conference.

Obviously, the ACC and the SEC take center stage. On Saturday, Duke was able to throw a wrench in Maryland's ACC title plans by upsetting the No. 2 Terrapins as they advanced to Sunday's final to meet hated rival No. 1 North Carolina.

The SEC's title game, however, is the showcase. It doesn't get much better than this.

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March 08, 2008

Duke Gives Greensboro The Blues

It took all season but Joanne P. McCallie finally has Duke looking like...well, Duke.

The three seed in the ACC Tournament advanced to Sunday's final against arch-rival North Carolina, who defeated Virginia handily earlier in the day, by beating a cold-shooting Maryland team that was simply outworked by the invigorated Blue Devils.

This isn't the same Duke team that I watched Maryland dominate in College Park back in January. Even without the services of leading scorer Chante Black, who sat the bench most of the game in foul trouble, the Blue Devils controlled the game and basically led from start to finish.

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Semifinal Saturday

Saturday sees action in 16 conference tournaments.

While the ACC and SEC are in their semifinals, another major conference is just getting under way in the Big East. And by the end of today two conferences will have crowned champions, earning automatic berths into the NCAA Tournament.

So where do we start? At the beginning, of course.

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March 07, 2008

This Time Next Year

Friday afternoon in Nashville, fans got a back-to-back chance to see two of the most storied SEC players in the history of the conference play in their last SEC tourney quarterfinal games.

If you didn't realize it, these are your last chances to catch Tennessee junior Candace Parker and LSU senior center Sylvia Fowles dominate in the SEC.

And Friday was no different.

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On The SECond Day

Of all the conference tournaments going into their second round of action Friday, perhaps the most intriguing is the SEC.

Nashville, Tenn. plays host to four games, two of which should come with predictable outcomes, the other two are wide open.

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March 06, 2008

ACC And The Rest - Nightly Recap

The first rounds are over for nine conferences, among them the mighty ACC and SEC.

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Off And Running

Thursday saw the ACC and SEC begin their conference tournaments, but down south in the Sun Belt they were already in the quarterfinals.

The Sun Belt got started on Wednesday, as did the Atlantic Sun, and so that's where we'll get started in recapping the action.

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March 05, 2008

Let The Madness Begin

If ever there was a time to get excited about women's basketball, it's now, this year. The game has more recognizable stars then ever and each is unique. Whether it is Candace Parker soaring to the rim - remember, these are the last opportunities to see Her Airness wearing the gold and baby blue of the Lady Vols - or the fabulous freshman up in Storrs who might just be Parker's equal, this season has had it all.

But before we can look back at what an incredible season it was, we must continue to look forward, because women's basketball never sleeps. Some teams still have regular season games to go, but as of today, March 5, the postseason has begun. March Madness is upon us. And by the end of the day, the Sun Belt will have five teams whose seasons will be at an end.

So without further ado, come along with me on a women's basketball journey throughout March. Each conference tournament will be previewed and then reviewed each day until March 17, the fateful day known as Selection Monday, when the 64-team NCAA Tournament field is revealed.

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