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Sixteen reasons to watch the Sweet 16

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Posted: Wednesday March 17, 1999 04:37 PM

  Pat Summitt has begun to promote women's basketball heavily. AP

By Patricia Heys, CNN/SI

1. Chamique Holdsclaw: In a CNN/SI poll, 47 percent of respondents said Holdsclaw is the best women's college basketball player of all time. With Semeka Randall questionable with an ankle injury, Holdsclaw's ability to carry the Lady Vols will be tested. She proved she could do it Monday, scoring 39 points against Boston College.

2. Purdue's Stephanie White-McCarty and Ukari Figgs: They're seniors, and they play like it. The best backcourt in the country, they don't throw the ball away, they don't make bad passes, they don't take bad shots. Despite two poor offensive outings in the tournament thus far, White-McCarty and Figgs always seem to be in control.

3. Becky Hammon: The 5-foot-6 guard is the country's eighth leading scorer and the all-time leading scorer -- male or female -- in the Western Athletic Conference. More importantly, Hammon is the spark and leader of a Colorado State team making its first trip to the Sweet 16.

4. Pat Summit: She is the most sought after coach in the country. She stars in her own Adidas commerical, is being featured on 60 Minutes II, has written two books and has won six national championships. Summit has changed for the better since winning her first championship in 1987. Now she's promoting the sport, so as the Lady Vols win, so does the rest of women's basketball.

5. Fast pace: Most of the Sweet 16 teams love to run, making for a fan-friendly game. Will opponents be able to keep up with Tennessee, Clemson, Georgia, Connecticut and Louisiana Tech?

6. Connecticut-Iowa State: After a close win over Xavier, the Huskies appear to be the No. 1 seed most likely to fall in the next round. UConn and Iowa State each had more than 10,000 fans on their sides in the first two rounds. It'll be interesting to see how each team reacts to a neutral court.

7. Top seeds advance: No big upsets to mess up your bracket -- yet.

8. They'll be back: No underclassmen have left early for a professional career. So you can count on seeing Tennessee sophomore Tamika Catchings and Connecticut sophomore Svetlana Abrosimova back in 2000.

9. Prolonged career: If you loved watching Old Dominion's Mery Andrade and Alabama's Dominique Canty, don't worry. You can probably catch them with the WNBA this summer.

10. Something new: If you were flipping through the channels looking for women's basketball to watch this season, you most likely landed on a Tennessee or Connecticut game. But this weekend basketball fans will finally get a chance to see players like Hammon, White-McCarty, Georgia's twins, Kelly and Coco Miller, and Clemson's Itoro Utoh and Amy Geren.

11. Louisiana Tech-LSU: The in-state rivals last met in the 1990-91 season, but will travel to Los Angeles to meet Saturday in the West Regional semifinal. Louisiana Tech, the state's traditional women's basketball powerhouse with three national championships, leads the series 13-6.

12. Clemson-Georgia: The schools are just 100 miles apart, but they'll met in Cincinnati on Saturday. Last season Georgia escaped with a 70-67 victory in Athens. The Lady Bulldogs are better team this year, returning all their starters. Clemson has been on a hot streak and won the ACC Tournament.

13. Colorado State-UCLA: With the West Regional being played in Los Angeles, UCLA still has a home-court advantage. The Bruins are finding motivation from a controversial call at Alabama that ousted them from last year's tournament.

14. Natalie Diaz: A 5-foot-11 junior, Diaz had 10 steals against Maine and six against Tennessee Tech in Old Dominion's first-round games. Diaz averages just 8.9 points a game, but appears to the sparkplug for the Lady Monarchs. Old Dominion will need Diaz's energy to defeat ACC regular season champion Duke and SEC champion Tennessee to advance to the Final Four.

15. Rutgers: Coach Vivian Stringer said Sunday, "We don't want to be the jewel of the East, we want to sit as high as we can and be everything." Rutgers, which tied for the Big East regular season championship with Connecticut, appears to be on a mission. The Scarlet Knights built up a 28-point lead to defeat Dartmouth 84-70 in the first round and then routed Arizona 90-47 in the second round. Next up: Texas Tech.

16. Michele VanGorp: Watch the 6-foot-6 Duke center and wonder what might have been. VanGorp, along with N.C. State's 6-6 Summer Erb, transferred from Purdue. How good would the Boilmakers be with these two centers still on their roster?

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