Early impressions, notes on NCAA women's tournament bracket
The elite teams of women's basketball have been playing an entertaining game of tag this season.
UConn beat Baylor.
Baylor beat Tennessee.
Tennessee beat Stanford.
Stanford beat UConn.
Tag -- who's it?
Apparently parity is it this year.
"I don't think there's a clear-cut favorite," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "There are a lot of different teams that can make a statement."
That's unlike a year ago, when UConn was the prohibitive and dominating favorite, riding back-to-back perfect seasons to its second straight championship. There is more opportunity in this year's bracket. Any of the No. 1 seeds appear capable of winning a national title in Indianapolis on April 5.
And if the seedings hold true -- something that's only happened once in the women's tournament -- prepare for some great matchups:
While UConn is looking to win its third straight title, Tennessee just wants to be back in the mix. The Lady Vols have missed consecutive Final Fours for the first time since the early 1990s. Tennessee was dumped by Baylor in last year's Sweet 16 -- and again lost to Brittney Griner's Bears last December. Summitt might actually prefer to face Auriemma than Griner at this point.
And beating Griner will take work. Texas Tech, the No. 8 seed in the Spokane bracket, managed to do it in February, the only team other than UConn to defeat Baylor in more than a year.
Last year Griner was an oddity, a gangly freshman whose coach was trying to protect her after she made headlines for throwing a punch. Now she's a force -- stronger, more confident in her offensive game and supported by a talented freshman point guard in Odyssey Sims. And, oh by the way, the last time the Final Four was held in Indianapolis Kim Mulkey's Baylor team beat Michigan State for the title.
"It doesn't feel as exciting," VanDerveer said. "It doesn't have the newness factor."