This year should see a most competitive Women’s NCAA Tournament.
I do think the Final Four will come from Duke, UNC, Tennessee, U-Conn, LSU and Oklahoma.
Ohio State, Stanford and Maryland could surprise me.
Vanderbilt, Purdue, North Carolina State and Michigan State will give a lot of teams match up problems. It would not shock me to find one or more of them to have a long run.
Michigan State is especially interesting. In freshman Allyssa DeHaan, they have a 6’9” center who is athletic, graceful and can move up and down the court. Unlike most the “big girls” in the women’s game she is not a wide body with skills. She is only going to get better. She shoots 52.5% from the field (12.3 ppg) and over 75% from the foul line. She averages 7.6 rebounds a game and has 118 blocks.
NCSU can dominate rebounding and is extremely well coached.
Vandy is a very smart team with an interest mix of talent. They only have three seniors and six freshmen…so they have to be smart all forty minutes.
Purdue has been in all games they have lost…they have a streaky toughness that could stagger a few opponents outside the Big 10.
Ohio State has only lost twice---@LSU and to Michigan State…but beat Oklahoma. Jessica Davenport averages about 19 ppg.
Oklahoma has the Paris twins…both are wide bodies, but Courtney has 50+ consecutive double doubles.
Stanford has three truly talented players starting with junior Candice Wiggins (16.3 ppg).
Freshman Jayne Appel averages 13.1 ppg and close to seven boards. Senior leadership comes from Brooke Smith (13.9 ppg/7.6 rpg). Very talented.
Maryland (like North Carolina) is a team loaded with talent that has not gotten better during the course of the season. That is a product of coaching or lack thereof.
They both can overwhelm an opponent on sheer talent. They are vulnerable to well-prepared teams that have good talent and intensity.
After a long season, I think the players on both teams tune out the coach after all the courtside humiliation and berating.
Coaches like Duke’s Coach G and NC State’s Kay Yow are the type the girls would kill for.
That said, the talent present at UNC and Maryland could trump everything. The fact that neither team has upgraded their skill level bothers me.
Beyond any doubt both Tennessee and U-Conn have gotten better since October. That is saying something when you consider the talent on those two benches.
LSU always plays tough and junior 6’6” Sylvia Fowles averages a double double with 17.6 ppg and 12.7 rpg. Quianna Chaney gets 12.6 ppg. Their losses to Tennessee, U-Conn, Georgia, Ole Miss and Baylor the total totaled just 15 points. So, they be had, but it takes a great effort.
Duke has improved from day one more than anyone. The early loss to injury of 6’5” post player Chante Black made everyone else play harder and Carrem Gay (6’2”) stepped up and is hell on wheels defensively and gets 8.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Carrem leads the team in fouls and must play smarter.
Lindsey Harding is a Player of Year candidate and the favorite at this time.
Alison Bales (6’7”) leads the free world in blocks. She has more than any other team in Division I.
Abby Waner averages over 14 points a game.
No one averages more than 30 minutes a game…so the bench is ready.
They play lock down defensive for 40 minutes and I feel (and hope) they are the team to beat.
Comments, opinions et. al. are appreciated.