Louisville Regional breakdown


The Louisville Regional is stacked with talent and is arguably one of the most competitive in this year's tournament. Both top-seeded Tennessee and second-seeded West Virginia hope to find their way to the Sweet 16. Of course, No. 3 seed Louisville also has its sights set on the regional semifinals, which the Cardinals will host. All three teams are ranked among the top seven in the most recent Associated Press top 25. And we haven't even mentioned fourth-seeded Maryland and its All-American, Alyssa Thomas.

Three observations

1. Last year, LSU came alive in the NCAA tournament with two games at home. The sixth-seeded Lady Tigers survived a tough game against Green Bay and then upset No. 3 Penn State, advancing to the Sweet 16. This year LSU is the No. 7 seed and is playing at home in Baton Rouge again, opening with what should be a very tough game against No. 10 seed Georgia Tech (ESPN2, 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday). Then LSU might play No. 2 seed West Virginia. Could this year end up having the same kind of early-round magic for LSU? The Lady Tigers defeated Tennessee this season.

2. How much noise could Texas make in this tournament? Maybe a lot. The Longhorns finished tied for third in the Big 12 and were overshadowed in the league this season. But the program appears to be on an upward swing, and could contend for the Big 12 title next season. Thus, this NCAA tournament could be a big springboard for the Longhorns, who are a No. 5 seed. What if they face No. 4 Maryland in the second round? Yes, the game would be on the Terps' home court, but Texas has the size and speed to potentially bother Maryland defensively.

3. What team from the Big Ten has the longest active streak of NCAA tournament appearances? You may be surprised, but it's Iowa, which is playing in the Big Dance for the seventh consecutive year and is the No. 6 seed. The Hawkeyes tied for fourth in the Big Ten, and had won 12 of their last 14 before falling to Nebraska in a competitive league tournament final. Iowa is an early-round host; if the Hawkeyes get past Marist (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET Sunday), they could face last year's NCAA giant killer -- Louisville -- in the second round. -- Mechelle Voepel

Three players to watch

Bria Holmes, West Virginia: For much of the Big 12 tournament final between West Virginia and Baylor, Holmes -- not Odyssey Sims -- looked like the unstoppable scorer. That's not the role she is asked to play on a game-to-game basis for the Mountaineers, but it's nice to know it's there. Although the sophomore is West Virginia's leading scorer, she doesn't take the most shots on the team, the former a reflection of both her efficiency (48 percent overall) and her 3-point range. A 6-foot-1 perimeter player, she's a difficult matchup for most defenses. And you don't play for Mike Carey if you don't play defense. Holmes' long reach makes her one of the team's best at creating turnovers.

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