Week 1 wrap-up; breaking down entertaining Sweet 16 matchups
UConn continues its winning streak and looks as if they will continue to dominate
San Diego State has turned the most heads, defeating Texas and West Virginia
Tennessee-Baylor, Notre Dame-Oklahoma top list of intriguing matchups
You just can't help but appreciate Connecticut's record-setting season. The Huskies have continued their historical run toward perfection the same way they went through the regular season and Big East Tournament. They've dominated. Connecticut, which holds the longest winning streak in Division I women's basketball at 74, won each of its first two NCAA tournament games by more than 50 points.
Those who can't stomach such a fantastic feat might argue that UConn has sucked the suspense out of its part of the bracket. Even those who enjoy such perfection may welcome a few surprises now and then. And they've gotten them.
Sure, powerhouse conferences like the ACC, Big 12, Big East and SEC will be well represented in the Sweet 16, but conferences like the West Coast and Mountain West will be at the party, too. That's because a couple of west coast teams have thrown a little chaos into what many thought would be a pretty orderly event.
San Diego State has been the biggest party crasher. The 11-seeded Aztecs are headed to the Sweet 16 for the first time since the field included 64 teams. They're the lowest seed since Marist advanced in 2007, and the first 11 seed since UC-Santa Barbara in 2004.
And SDSU did it in impressive fashion. Before ending third-seeded West Virginia's season, the Aztecs took down a sixth-seeded Texas team that hired Gail Goestenkors away from Duke in an effort to take the program back to among the perennial contenders. As SDSU moves on, the Longhorns will have to come to terms with being the only team to lose an opening round game at home.
The Aztecs weren't the only ones to surprise one of mighty Big 12 powers. After watching their men's team bring chaos to the postseason, Gonzaga took its turn in the women's bracket. That first-round win over a North Carolina team that has struggled all season might have been a fluke. However, Tuesday's win over No. 2 Texas A&M, a choice by many to upset Stanford and reach the Final Four, showed Gonzaga is for real.
"It's a shame that one of us has to go home because I think you've got two basketball teams that could go on and be great in the regional," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "By far, this is the hardest second-round game that we've had to play since I've been in the NCAAs."
Intriguing Sweet 16 matchups
No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 4 Baylor
When these two teams met in the season opener, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt did something unheard of in Knoxville. She had her team play zone defense to contain Baylor's Britney Griner. The 6-foot-8 freshman notched 15 points, four rebounds and four blocks, but was 3-for-8 from the field in the 74-65 loss.
Both teams have improved since that November meeting. Tennessee has won 16 straight and Griner, a YouTube sensation for her dunking skills, has become a dominating force on defense. She's coming off a tournament-record 14 blocks against Georgetown. And let's not forget, the last times these teams met in the postseason. In 2004, a controversial foul called with two-tenths of a second left led to a pair of free throws that gave Tennessee a 71-69 win in the Sweet 16.
No. 2 Notre Dame vs. No. 3 Oklahoma
Two of the most talented point guards in the country will battle it out in Kansas City. Junior Danielle Robinson, who has started nearly every game during her career with the Sooners, is one of 12 finalists for the Wade Trophy award. She leads OU with 16.7 points per game and 68 steals. Freshman Skylar Diggins has been impressive during her first NCAA tournament. Diggins dropped in 31 points and grabbed seven steals in Notre Dame's second-round win against Vermont.
No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 7 Gonzaga
This is the only game that doesn't include two teams from the power conferences and features an interesting matchup. Xavier has one of the best frontcourts in the country in Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips. In addition to Gonzaga point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who notched 18 points and 21 assists in the first two rounds, forward Vivian Frieson is having a fantastic tournament. Frieson averaged 19.5 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and 3.5 blocks against UNC and A&M.
No. 2 Stanford vs. No. 5 Georgia
Stanford is a popular pick to take on the Huskies in the national championship. Georgia battled through one of the toughest conferences in the nation. With four teams in the Sweet 16, the SEC is tied with the Big 12 for most teams left in the tournament.
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