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Midwest Region

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Posted: Monday October 30, 2000 3:52 PM
Updated: Wednesday November 01, 2000 10:21 AM

  Katie Douglas Returning Big Ten Player of the Year Katie Douglas will try to lead Purdue back to the Final Four. Todd Warshaw/Allsport

By Mike Carmin, Special to CNNSI.com

Once again, the Midwest Region should provide plenty of teams to the NCAA tournament. Every year, teams from the Big 12 and Big 10 make strong runs in the postseason. This year should find Oklahoma, Iowa State and Purdue putting together outstanding seasons in search of a Final Four berth.

This region also features some of the nation's top players, led by Iowa State's Angie Welle, Purdue's Katie Douglas, Alabama-Birmingham's Deanna Jackson and Oklahoma's Stacey Dales.

Is there a team in the Midwest that can challenge for the national championship? You'll have to wait until March to find out.

Teams That Will Make the NCAA Tournament
Alabama-Birmingham (C-USA)  Oakland (Mid-Continent) 
Ball State (MAC)  Oklahoma (Big 12) 
Colorado (Big 12)  Penn State (Big 10) 
DePaul (C-USA)  Purdue (Big 10) 
Drake (Missouri Valley)  Tennessee Tech (Ohio Valley) 
Evansville (Missouri Valley)  Tulane (C-USA) 
Illinois (Big 10)  Texas (Big 12) (Ohio Valley) 
Iowa State (Big 12)  Texas Tech (Big 12) 
Michigan (Big 10)  Wisconsin (Big 10) 
Memphis (C-USA)  Wisconsin Green-Bay (Midwestern) 
 

Top Storylines
Big Ten Conference looks for its third straight berth in the Final Four. Purdue is the league's best shot.

SW Missouri State's Jackie Stiles is on pace to become the NCAA's all-time scorer, moving past the 3,122 points collected by Patricia Hoskins of Mississippi Valley State 12 seasons ago. Stiles needs 792 points to surpass the mark. She scored 890 last season.

Alabama-Birmingham attempts to parlay last year's NCAA tournament success into this season.

Teams
On the Rise
Indiana
• Kathi Bennett, daughter of Wisconsin men's coach Dick Bennett, brings defense to the Hoosiers. A middle of the pack finish in the Big Ten is not impossible.
Ball State
• With five starters and nine letterwinners back from last year's 16-win season, the Cardinals are ready to break through in the Mid-American Conference.
Colorado
• Once the showcase team of the Big 8, the Lady Buffs could be this year's Oklahoma of the Big 12.
Rebuilding
Nebraska
• Lost four starters from last year's 18-win season. The Huskers will be hard-pressed to challenge this season.
Kansas
• Gone are Lynn Pride and Lisa Raymont. The Jayhawks have three players with significant experience because the bench wasn't a factor last season.
Minnesota
• Will the Gophers ever leave the basement of the Big 10?

Players
Five New Faces to Watch
Laurie Koehn, Kansas State
• The guard averaged 37 points for Moundridge (Kan.) High School. Expect Koehn to have an quick impact.
Stacey Stephens, Texas
• The Parade All-America forward is the only high school girl to record more than 2,000 points and 800 blocks. Stephens also pulled down 2,215 rebounds.
Shereka Wright, Purdue
USA Today's Player of the Year will give the Boilermakers much needed depth on the perimeter.
Ericka Valek Purdue
• Expected to be the Boilermakers' starting point guard when the season starts. Could be key in Purdue's success.
Aminata Yanni, Illinois
• Demonstrated her talents and ability in WBCA All-Star game. Look for Yanni to be on the floor soon.
Five Familiar Faces to Watch
Katie Douglas, Purdue
• Look for a more mobile Douglas after offseason ankle surgery. She'll repeat her Big Ten Conference Player of the Year honor.
Angie Welle, Iowa State
• The Big 12's leading returning scorer and rebounder is set to showcase her talents again.
Stacey Dales, Oklahoma
• An all-around solid player who can perform on both ends of the floor.
Jackie Stiles, Southwester Missouri State
• The sharp-shooting Stiles aims for the NCAA scoring record.
Deanna Jackson, UAB
• Led the nation in double-doubles last season.

Coach to Watch
Sherri Coale, Oklahoma
Coale guided the Sooners to the Sweet 16 last season, helping a program that was all but dead in 1990 come back to life.

Toughest Schedule
Purdue
With a veteran team, coach Kristy Curry will put the Boilermakers through a rugged preconference schedule. Purdue will play in the preseason WNIT, which could feature games against Texas and Louisiana Tech. Road contests at Kentucky, Boston College, Notre Dame along with battles against LSU, Stanford and DePaul should prepare the Boilermakers for March.

Toughest Place to Play
Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa
The Cyclones are virtually unbeatable in Ames, posting a 15-1 record last season. Iowa State sold 7,500 season tickets last year.

Things You Didn't Know
• The Big Ten Baby Conference. Purdue's Kristy Curry, Iowa's Lisa Bluder and Michigan State's Joanne McCallie all had babies since the end of last season.
• Since 1995, Tennessee and Connecticut have won all but one national championship. Purdue is the only program to break through, winning in 1999.
• Oklahoma's Stacey Dales played on the Canadian National Team during the 2000 Olympics.

Mark Your Calendar
Oklahoma vs. Georgia, Nov. 22
• Part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Madison, Wis. Time to see if the Sooners can duplicate last year's success.
Purdue at Notre Dame, Dec. 9
• Both will be ranked in the top 10 when this December showdown rolls around. Two of the nation's best centers, Purdue's Camille Cooper and Notre Dame's Ruth Riley, do battle.
Iowa State at Duke, Dec. 30
• With the three starters back, the Cyclones should be ready to run with the talented Blue Devils, who should be a contender for the Final Four.

Mike Carmin is a reporter for the Lafayette Journal and Courier.

 
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