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Friday, July 19, 2019

2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket Big Picture—Quit Whining and Lace Up Those Sneakers

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Credit: Original Artwork Courtesy istock Photo.com©

By Clay Kallam

It comes down to this: To get to the Final Four, you have to win four straight games. To win the national title, you have to win six.

Now whether you play someone from your conference or someone from across the country makes little difference because after the first game (for at least the top four seeds), nothing will come easy. And after the second game, if you don’t play well, you’ll lose – whether you played the other team three times, once or never.

In short, quit your whining (which seems like it’s coming more from the fans than from players and coaches anyway), lace up the ankle braces and just play basketball. If you’re good enough, you’ll win; if not, well, you could have been playing in the WNIT, so count your blessings.


Caption: While there’s certainly dominance at the top, filling out this year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament bracket isn’t as easy as many make it sound, starting in Spokane.
Credit: Original 2011 Women’s Basketball Tournament Bracket courtesy NCAA

If the seeds hold, UCLA (No. 3 seed) and Stanford (No. 1 seed) won’t even play, so let’s focus on some more interesting match-ups – for example, homestanding Gonzaga (No. 11 seed) versus, well, just about anybody. The ‘Zags have Courtney Vandersloot, of course, but they also have a bunch of other really good players and they shoot 49.9 percent as a team.

Let’s repeat that. Gonzaga shoots 49.9 percent. As a team. We’ve all seen pretty good players who couldn’t match that percentage in an empty gym, so it’s wise to be wary of the Bulldogs, as I’m sure Iowa (No. 6 seed) already is. The young Hawkeyes are playing well lately, handle the ball well and make their free throws, so we’ll see if the Big Ten is tough enough to have prepared them for Gonzaga.

Of course, the winner gets UCLA, which will demolish turnover-prone Montana (No. 14 seed), but will be a decided underdog against No. 2-seeded Xavier, and could well struggle even if Louisville (No. 7 seed) or Vanderbilt (No. 10 seed) upsets the Musketeers. The Pac-10 was a pit of mediocrity this year, and teams from the Big East and SEC will be much more prepared to handle the Bruins’ press – which, sadly, is pretty much all they have.

After Xavier romps over 15th-seeded South Dakota State (which lost to Southern Utah and has no good wins), the Muskies will have to bring it to get to the Sweet 16, but there’s nothing they’d like better than an eventual rematch with Stanford – which will send UC Davis (No. 16 seed) coach Sandy Stephens into retirement, Princeton offense or no Princeton offense, by pounding the boards.

The Cardinal will get more Bay Area flavor if Texas Tech (No. 8 seed) can use its balanced scoring to get past St. John’s (No. 9 seed). The Red Raiders’ second and third-leading scorers (Casey Morris and Teena Wicket) are both from the San Francisco area (and both are transfers), but everyone will need to handle the ball to get past St. John’s. The Red Storm, though, has one issue that could prove decisive: They don’t shoot free throws well, and late leads can evaporate in a hurry in the crucible of the tournament.

Assuming Kentucky (No. 4 seed) gets by 13th-seeded Hampton (which has won 13 in a row, with the closest game being a 12-point win), its likely opponent is North Carolina (No. 5 seed), which forces many turnovers but is only 13-8 after a hot start. One reason: The Tar Heels can’t shoot three-pointers, which makes them much easier to defend. If Fresno State (No. 12 seed) can take advantage of that weakness, and maybe a little North Carolina jet lag, the underrated Bulldogs have a chance to be a bracket-buster.


Credit: Original 2011 Women’s Basketball Tournament Bracket courtesy NCAA

Since Prairie View (No. 16 seed) found a way to lose to RPI No. 326 Jackson State, its odds of beating Baylor (No. 1 seed) are, shall we say, infinitesimal, but the Bears really have only one no-sweat game. Look for eighth-seeded Houston (winners of 17 of 18) to get past ninth-seeded West Virginia (losers of eight of the last 12) and give Baylor its first Texas test.

One would assume Michigan State (No. 4 seed) will coast past Northern Iowa (No. 13 seed) and the winner of the battle of the mid-majors (fifth-seeded Green Bay and 12th-seeded Arkansas-Little Rock), but the Spartans are nothing if not unpredictable. And remember, Green Bay has only lost once all year, by three to Marquette.

And speaking of unpredictable, how ‘bout them Dawgs? Sure, they can beat Kentucky, but Georgia (No. 6 seed) has lost four of five, can’t shoot threes and struggles at the free-throw line. Does that sound like the recipe for “upset” to you? It certainly does to the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee (No. 11 seed), who are slowly recovering from that tragic murder and may have more emotional energy than any team in the tournament.

Florida State (No. 3 seed) awaits the winner of that one, most likely, though the Seminoles did find a way to lose to Yale this season, so maybe Samford (No. 14 seed) has a chance. Okay, maybe not.

Louisiana Tech (No. 10 seed) and Rutgers (No. 7 seed) should be more interesting, but C. Viv has the Scarlet Knights in full gallop lately, and those 12 losses might not mean as much as they appear to.

Finally, a shout-out to tiny Iota High in Louisiana, which was in the national rankings a couple years ago behind the inspired play of the diminutive Baggett twins (Ashlyn and Caitlyn). Now at McNeese State (No. 15 seed), the sophomores are in the NCAA tournament, and though the visit (second-seeded Texas A&M is the opponent, after all) may be brief, it’s yet another testament to the fact that size isn’t everything.


Credit: Original 2011 Women’s Basketball Tournament Bracket courtesy NCAA

If you really want to complain, talk to Flyers’ fans – they’re hosting a regional, and aren’t even in it. If Dayton moves on to the Sweet 16, the Flyers will live up to their name, and head to Philadelphia, while, if the other seeds hold, Tennessee (No. 1 seed), Notre Dame (No. 2 seed) and Ohio State (No. 4 seed) will enjoy the Ohio hospitality. (Oh, and the Miami that’s the No. 3 seed in this region is the one from Florida, just to rub a little BenGay into the wound.)

Tennessee fans, though, should book those hotel rooms right now. First-round opponent Stetson (No. 16 seed) lost to South Florida by 38 and to Florida State by 48, so the Volunteer reserves should get a nice workout. Next up will be Marquette (No. 8 seed) or Texas, and those who wonder why the Longhorns got a nine-seed won’t get any answers here. If not for two wins over Texas Tech, that’s a pretty sketchy resume. And it’s not as if Marquette will make anyone tremble, either, so those who think the Selection Committee loves St. Pat have a little more evidence for their inevitable rants.

Ohio State also has a pretty easy game one, as Central Florida (No. 13 seed) can’t shoot and lost to RPI No. 291 Savannah State. Even if Sammy Prahalis melts down in tears on the court, the Buckeyes should move on, and might even get lucky, as Bowling Green (No. 12 seed) isn’t that bad, despite the loss to 9-21 Western Michigan. The Falcons can shoot, and beat Vanderbilt, so if Georgia Tech (No. 5 seed) manages to miss its free throws (entirely possible) and turn the ball over (ditto), a lot of brackets will have some early holes.

The bottom half is much more interesting, aside from Miami’s opener against Gardner Webb (No. 14 seed). Oklahoma is the sixth seed, but the Sooners aren’t the most consistent team in the country, and James Madison (No. 11 seed) has the dynamic, high-volume scorer Dawn Evans, who, if she goes off, will score 30 no matter who’s guarding her. Of course, she has to be healthy, and her kidney problems are always an issue.

Cinderella Utah (No. 15 seed), which somehow rallied to win the Mountain West tournament and finish 18-16, may be able to coax the pumpkin to remain a gorgeous vehicle for another few minutes, but the odds say that tested Notre Dame will end the magic pretty quickly. Of course, that’s what TCU thought too … and this pod is in Salt Lake City.

Arizona State (No. 7 seed) and Temple (No. 10 seed) should be a battle of decent teams that hope to get hot and lucky, and maybe roll into the Sweet 16. Nothing in their resumes, though, suggests that they can go any farther than that.


Credit: Original 2011 Women’s Basketball Tournament Bracket courtesy NCAA

Hey, Jennifer, welcome back – and after greeting Ms. Rizzotti, the Connecticut Huskies (No. 1 overall seed) will pummel their former point guard’s Hartford Hawks (No. 16 seed) in a name-the-score game that will likely lead to a match-up with ninth-seeded Purdue. The Boilermakers did beat DePaul, but also turn the ball over a lot, so after they get past eighth-seeded Kansas State (which lost to Baylor by 33), it will be time to call it a season.

One would expect either Georgetown (No. 5 seed) or Maryland (No. 4 seed) to be next for the Huskies, but the two “powers” are a combined 5-9 down the stretch, and that Nov. 27 Hoya win over Tennessee is just a distant speck in the rear-view mirror. Could Princeton (No. 12 seed) actually upset Georgetown? If the Tigers can handle the ball, as they have all season, and make some threes, which they usually do, this could be a painful crash-and-burn for the Hoyas.

As for Maryland, shaky shooting probably won’t hurt against St. Francis of Pennsylvania (No. 13 seed), but the Red Flash did beat Pitt, and have come a long way since that 1-4 start.

Speaking of November, the committee must have been hoping for a reprise of that double-overtime Penn State (No. 6 seed)-Dayton (No. 11 seed) game to liven up the first round, as that’s going to be a repeat March 19. Both teams can shoot it, so even if there isn’t extra time, it should still be a fun one.

Navy (No. 14 seed) won’t have nearly as much fun against DePaul (No. 3 seed), but Iowa State (No. 7 seed) better be ready. The Red Foxes of Marist are rightfully upset about their ten seed, and they defend, make free throws and don’t turn the ball over – which could be an issue for the Cyclones, which went just 6-5 to finish the regular season.

Second-seeded Duke won eight of its last nine, though, and even if Tennessee-Martin (No. 15 seed) gets an inspirational video from alumna Pat Summitt, and recalls how close it came to Vanderbilt (losing by just 12), the Blue Devils will pound the boards and roll on to the second round.


Originally published Tue, March 15, 2011

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.