Tuesday March 18th, 2008

Underrated: George Washington. They've outscored opponents by an average of 12.3 points. They've won 20-of-23 games. And they have senior guards: Kimberly Beck (13.6 points, 6.3 assists) and Sarah Jo Lawrence (whose 3.85 GPA is more impressive than her 13.2 points). Add to that wins over tournament darling Texas A&M and Auburn (their first-round opponent). Traveling across the country -- the Colonials play at Stanford's Maples Pavilion -- won't be easy, but this is a veteran team with tournament success. Last year, George Washington advanced to the Sweet 16.

Overrated: Iowa State. Bill Fennelly is a terrific coach, but his team lacks depth. The No. 7 Cyclones were under .500 (7-9) in the Big 12 and were 5-5 in their final 10 games. It comes down to this: Will Iowa State stay hot from behind the arc? Junior guard Heather Ezell made 15 three-pointers in wins over Colorado and Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament before shooting 2-of-9 in a loss to Texas A&M. It's a pick-em game with No. 10 Georgia Tech, who leads the nation in steals.

Bracket Buster: Texas. It may be wishful thinking, but Texas has some unique credentials for a No. 8 seed. They've won five-of-six games (including wins over Oklahoma and Baylor) and have a coach (Gale Goestenkors) with a tournament win over Connecticut (It came in 2006 when Goestenkors was at Duke).

Home cooking: Iowa State. No wonder Fennelly called the regional "a great draw." Once Iowa State made the tournament, which was no sure thing, the Cyclones (20-12) were assured of playing at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Best player you've never heard of: Monica Wright, Virginia. It's hard to garner national attention when you play in a conference with North Carolina, Maryland and Duke, but Wright is the next big star in the ACC. The 5-foot-11 sophomore has averaged 17.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 steals this season. "We have been under the radar for a while," says Wright, who might as well be talking about herself. "This is definitely a breakout year where we can prove some things and show people what we are all about."

Best matchup: Connecticut vs. Rutgers. Get ready for a big dose of Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer claiming the Scarlet Knights got screwed ... Which they did. "We are the No. 2 seed, but out of eight teams, we are playing the No. 1 overall team, and that makes us the No. 8 team," says Stringer. "We are No. 8 in the minds of the [selection committee]. "I didn't think there was any way on God's earth that this would happen. It's not that I am afraid of Connecticut, I am just stunned and shocked. This is a mind-blower." The Big East rivals have split two meetings this year.

The pick: Connecticut. UConn coach Geno Auriemma has always said the regional-final game is the toughest to win in the tournament. His reward for finishing with the No. 1 overall seed? A potential meeting with the team that knows his squad the best and delivered the Huskies its only loss. It's a toss-up game because Rutgers' players are immune to the UConn aura. The pick is Connecticut, but with little conviction. One small caveat: If Rutgers pulls off the upset, they're my pick for the title.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.