Dayton Primer: No stopping UConn
Let's be blunt: It would be one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history if UConn lost before the Final Four. It's also not going to happen. The Huskies are 14-0 against top 10 opponents this season, winning by an average of 26.3 points. The only top 10 team in the region is Ohio State, and the Buckeyes' tournament history scares nobody.
UConn won't be in a game that close prior to San Antonio. Even on the rare occasion when the Huskies lack offensive rhythm -- as in the first half against Notre Dame and against West Virginia in the Big East Championship -- their ball-hawking defense bails them out. Senior center
St. John's held UConn to a 39.1 percent shooting from the field -- the Huskies' lowest this year -- in a 66-52 UConn win at Gampel Pavilion on Feb. 13. No Big East team played UConn with more moxie, and that bodes well for this tournament. The Red Storm pressure opponents, play terrific transition defense and have a young coach (
The fifth-seeded Cavaliers are trending the wrong way, with three losses in their last five games. Ther ésumé also isn't very impressive: Of their 21 wins this season, the most notable was a four-point double-overtime win at home over a North Carolina team that's not close to its usual standard. Senior forward
Middle Tennessee State players admit they've been haunted all season by the memory of last year's excruciating 60-59 opening-round loss to Michigan State. That game saw
The Tina Charles of the region is, well, Tina Charles. She's the favorite for Player of The Year and pairs with Moore to form an impossible matchup. Pack a zone around Charles (18.4 points and 9.4 rebounds), and Moore (17.9 points) or senior swingman
Even if you've heard of Clark, you've likely never seen her play. She averaged 44 points during the Sun Belt tournament, including 48 in an 80-78 win over Arkansas Little-Rock in the tournament final. (Her 132 points during the tournament are believed to be the highest conference tournament performance in NCAA women's basketball history by any player in any conference.) Clark can score with both hands, is super-quick and has a variety of moves in the post. Remarkably, she's just 5-foot-10, but she has guard quickness around the basket. The senior led the nation in scoring with 28.7 points per game and won't end her college career without a big game.
The Buckeyes have an easy draw, and should roll over St. Francis and the winner of Mississippi State-Middle Tennessee before a tricky game against Florida State or St. John's. It's pretty simple: Ohio State needs to get to the Regional Final or this season is a big disappointment. The Buckeyes have an All-America inside-outside combination in junior center
UConn has gone 223 consecutive games without allowing an opponent to shoot more than .500 from the field. That might be the greatest streak in the history of women's basketball.
It'd be fun to make a case for someone to break through prior to the Final Four, but there is no case. The Huskies will roll. Auriemma has always said the regional final is the most difficult game to win during a championship run, but no team in Dayton will stay within 15 points of the defending champions. Let's continue this conversation in San Antonio.