November 03, 2008

First crack at the bracket

As ESPN points out, Selection Monday is months away. The 64-team field is a project in the works. There are thousands of games still to be played. But that doesn't keep Charlie Creme from taking a crack at how the NCAA tournament bracket might look when the madness starts in March.

Here is his take on Stanford and their opponents this season:
  • Stanford (#1 in Berkeley): The Candice Wiggins era has ended, but there is plenty left in Tara VanDerveer's cupboard. Perhaps this is the beginning of the Nnemkadi Ogwumike era.

  • Rutgers (#2 in Berkeley): C. Vivian Stringer will have the task of blending a solid returning core, led by Epiphanny Prince, and a group of talented freshmen.

  • Iowa State (#7 in Berkeley): The Cyclones had four double-figure scorers -- led by Alison Lacey -- and they all return this season.

  • Tennessee ( #2 in Raleigh): After graduating the starting five, the personnel will look very different in Knoxville. But some things don't change: Pat Summitt and a tough schedule.

  • Duke (#3 in Raleigh): The Blue Devils will still be relying on depth and defense, but now they have a year under their belt in the transition to Joanne P. McCallie's system.

  • USC (#9 in Raleigh:The Women of Troy are no longer young. Camille LeNoir is hoping to lead them back to the tournament.

  • Minnesota (#12 in Raleigh): Ashley Ellis-Milan and Katie Ohm will have to raise their games to make up for the loss of Leslie Knight, but Emily Fox remains the go-to Gopher.

  • California (#2 in Oklahoma City): Devanei Hampton, Ashley Walker and Alexis Gray-Lawson will be taking their final shot at a Pac-10 title. Health and Stanford are all that stand in the way.

  • Purdue (#9 in Oklahoma City): The Boilermakers are just hoping for a healthier season. The return of Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton is huge.

  • Arizona State (#4 in Trenton): The Sun Devils remain deep and experienced, so will a distant third-place Pac-10 finish and second-round NCAA exit be good enough in 2009?

  • Baylor (#5 in Trenton): The Lady Bears' X factor is the health of Jhasmin Player's left knee. Having Leon Barmore on the sideline as an assistant coach should be fun.

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