The 2013 Women’s NCAA Tournament is pressing forward and a few of the country’s brightest stars have already taken the chance to shine on the biggest stage of their careers.
Reaching New Orleans is the goal for every team in the tournament, but there a handful of players who are simply un-guardable and have the ability to take over a game themselves.
These difference makers will be the ones who influence the way the tournament field plays out.
Here are the players to watch in this year’s women’s tournament.
Brittney Griner, Center, Baylor
Let’s start with the obvious choice. Griner is the single, biggest difference maker in women’s college basketball.
The Baylor center is averaging 23.9 points per game this season, and she is unstoppable once she gets the ball around the basket.
But her influence on the defensive end is just as important as her contribution to the scoring effort. No player influences more shots than she does, plus Griner is blocking 4.21 shots per game.
The Lady Bears are 33-1 this season and Griner is the biggest reason why the team is on track to win another national title.
Elena Delle Donne, Forward, Delaware
Delle Donne may not play for a national powerhouse, but as long as she is on the court, Delaware has a chance against any opponent.
She can score from anywhere on the floor, and is the most complete offensive player in the country.
The Fightin’ Blue Hens have not lost in the 2013 calendar year, and their star forward has delivered consistently excellent performances. But the team will have to continue playing well against elevated competition now.
No team in the tournament relies more on a single player, and Delle Donne makes all the difference for Delaware.
Chiney Ogwumike, Forward, Stanford
Baylor is on a dominant run right now, but it still has one loss on its record, and that came against Stanford.
Ogwumike led her team with 18 points in that thriller back in November. Now, the two teams are on a collision course toward a Final Four meeting.
When that happens, Ogwumike will be looking to once again be productive on the glass and pace her team’s scoring effort.
She is one of the premier forwards in the nation and the biggest reason the Cardinal are a legitimate contender to win this year’s tournament.
Skylar Diggins, Guard, Notre Dame
The forwards have been getting a lot of attention, but Notre Dame’s star point guard makes a massive impact in each and every game.
No player in the nation can orchestrate an offense like Diggins. She is comfortable as both a scorer and a distributor, and leads the Irish in both points and assists.
Notre Dame has only lost once this year, and that bitter defeat was against Baylor. Diggins was just 4-of-19 with eight points in that game, while Griner’s 24 points and 14 rebounds allowed for an easy Lady Bears’ victory.
Diggins will desperately want another shot at Baylor, and to get it, she will have to lead her team to the national championship game. She has all the skills to set up an epic showdown at the end of this tournament.