None of that matters at this point. The tournament begins on March 20; we'll let the games do the talking. You can download a bracket here .
I, like most observers, think that UConn will win the championship this year. I believe that the only things that could trip them up would be an injury or a catastrophic drop in focus.
That being said, let's take a look at this year's tournament brackets.
Dayton (The UConn Region)
Some feel that this region is the easiest of the four. There is a potential Sweet 16 matchup between UConn and No. 4 seed Iowa State that is giving coach Geno Auriemma nightmares. Iowa State defeated UConn in the Sweet 16 of the 1999 tournament.
I don't see a problem, but I guess Geno has a long memory.
No. 6 seed St. John's is a team that can't be overlooked.
Their active and athletic defense was responsible for the single time this season that UConn shot below 40 percent in a game. However, their youth at key positions could betray them. They lost their opening round game in the Big East tournament.
No. 2 seed Ohio State (30-4), has the ability to reach the regional finals. If they do, their potential matchup with UConn would be played about 70 miles away from their Columbus campus.
Look for UConn to defeat Ohio State to advance to the Final Four.
Memphis (The Tennessee Region)
Third ranked Tennessee enters the tournament with a 30-2 record. Pat Summit's frosty relationship with Geno has been well documented. Let's just say she hates him. ESPN is salivating at the prospect of these two teams meeting in the Final Four, as well they should.
It would be great theater.
The biggest obstacle to UT reaching the Elite Eight is probably Baylor, but I don't see Brittney Griner and the Lady Bears taking down Tennessee.
No. 2 seed Duke (27-5) is a different story.
Sure, they received regular season beat-downs from both Stanford and UConn, but they have also beaten Ohio State and crushed No. 3 seed Florida State. Duke is a dangerous team, and a legitimate threat to Tennessee.
I'm actually picking Duke to upset the apple cart a bit—Duke over Tennessee to reach the Final Four.
Kansas City (The Nebraska Region)
This is my pick for easiest region.
Top seed Nebraska almost entered the tournament as a second undefeated team, but they lost to Texas A&M in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament. Finishing the regular season undefeated in a wicked strong Big 12 is a major accomplishment, and I think the 'Huskers will cruise to the regional finals with little opposition.
Hmmm...he said regional finals. Who stops Nebraska from reaching the Final Four?
No. 2 seed Notre Dame (27-5) also has what I think to be a clear path to the Elite Eight. Three of ND's five losses were to UConn—the other two losses were to fellow tournament players St. John's and Georgetown.
Can you grow from losing to the best? I think so.
Notre Dame over Nebraska—ND to the Final Four.
Sacramento (The Stanford Region)
Stanford (31-1) is truly loaded up front.
Senior Jayne Appel should end up third in National Player of the Year voting behind UConn's dynamic duo of Maya Moore and Tina Charles. Her sidekick is sophomore Nneka Ogwumike, maturing in the post every game and capable of at least one "wow" play per game. Stanford's only loss was a December meeting with UConn, but they were actually leading at halftime.
You have to believe that these young women are desperate for another crack at the Huskies.
No. 3 Xavier (27-3), in the midst of an 18-game winning streak, was done no favors by the tournament committee. A possible Sweet 16 game with Texas A&M might be the best game of that round.
No. 2 seed Texas A&M (25-7) is peaking at the right time. They have run off six wins in a row, including the take-down of Nebraska, since a two-point loss at home to Baylor.
Do they have enough to bring down Stanford?
The talented, well coached, and motivated Stanford Cardinal defeat Xavier to advance to the Final Four.
The way I see it, we'll have No. 1 UConn facing No. 2 Duke on one side of the draw, and No. 1 Stanford staring at No. 2 Notre Dame in the other.
UConn over Stanford in an epic game. Clash of the Titans, women's hoops version.
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