Sacramento Primer: Chemistry, leadership will carry Stanford
Behind the most formidable front line in the country -- 6-foot-4 senior All-America center
Among other things, coach
Senior point guard
If 13-seed Chattanooga can take advantage of Oklahoma State's missing star in the first round game (see below), the Sacramento region might have an upset. But that's a big if.
The Bulldogs are a bit like Texas on the men's side: They have a strong senior leader (point guard
The Tar Heels pit their hell-bent, we-don't-care-about-turnovers style against a team that is very good at taking care of the ball. The Zags turn over the ball just 15.6 times per game, while the Tar Heels lose it more than 20 times per. (Gonzaga's assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.23; the Tar Heels' is .8.)
Peeved that she was passed over for Pac-10 Freshman of the Year last season, the acrobatic 6-2 power forward left no doubt about her value this year, notching 9.4 rebounds and a league-leading 18.3 points per game (on 63.8 shooting, fourth in the nation) on her way to earning the Pac-10 Player of the Year award.
The junior point guard out of Kent, Wash., doesn't just lead the country is assists with a whopping 9.3 per game (her assists-to-turnover ratio of 2.37 ranks 10th), she is also the Bulldogs' top thief (3.5 steals per game) and second leading scorer with 14.6 points per game.
The fourth-seeded Cowgirls have to play their first-round game against Chattanooga without leading scorer
The number of teams in this bracket that commit fewer than 16 turnovers per game: Oklahoma State (12.7); Stanford (14.3); Texas A&M (15.4); Gonzaga (15.7) and Chattanooga (15.8).
Stanford won't have to get on a plane until the Final Four, thanks to first- and second-round games at Maples Pavilion and second-weekend activities a bus-ride away in Sacramento. But it is the advantages Stanford has enjoyed all year -- great frontline play, leadership and chemistry -- that will carry the Cardinal to San Antonio.