Louisville Regional breakdown


Louisville has never reached a Final Four without beating LSU, Maryland or Tennessee along the way.

Tennessee hasn't been to a Final Four since Nikki Caldwell was an assistant coach alongside Holly Warlick

Maryland hasn't been to a Final Four since Jeff Walz worked for Brenda Frese.

As for LSU, well, the only No. 7 seed that ever reached the Final Four was Minnesota in 2004. Brenda Frese -- with Walz as one of her assistants -- coached the Gophers for one season in 2001-02.

If you can figure out where Kevin Bacon fits in this Six Degrees of Separation list, let us know. Few introductions will be required along the banks of the Ohio River on Sunday, when upset-minded LSU joins three teams that finished the season ranked in the top 11 of the final regular-season AP Top 25. But there should be some good basketball.

Let's look at three X factors for each matchup.

No. 1 seed Tennessee vs. No. 4 seed Maryland

ESPN, noon ET Sunday

Get to the point: Both teams have senior stars who are going to have the ball in their hands quite a bit of the time, so point guard might be something of a relative position in this game, but we're still going to see a pair of freshmen in those roles: Tennessee's Andraya Carter and Maryland's Lexie Brown.

Each had plenty of moments this season when she looked like a star in the making or even a star arrived. On occasion, each also looked like a freshman. Carter has a slight advantage in experience, of course, having played seven games a season ago and been around the scene even after an injury forced her to redshirt, but if one looks more comfortable than the other on this stage, it could tip the scales in her team's favor.

Alyssa Thomas vs. Meighan Simmons: No, they aren't going to spend much time going head-to-head, but they're the two dominant presences on the court. Thomas has attempted 197 more shots than any of her Maryland teammates this season, while the margin is 155 shots for Simmons. By the nature of Thomas' game, she is able to affect games even when she's not putting points on the scoreboard. Simmons isn't one-dimensional, but clearly her strongest asset is her point production. So at the risk of stating the obvious, her shot needs to fall. In her first two tournaments, spanning eight games, Simmons averaged 13.4 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting. In six games since, including the first two rounds this season, she averaged 12.3 points per game and shot 28.3 percent.

Mystery guest: We're going to see a lot of Thomas for Maryland and a lot of Simmons and Isabelle Harrison for Tennessee. But if you know who each team's leading scorer will be beyond those players, you have a future waiting for you in Las Vegas. Both teams have plenty of people capable of stepping up on a given night, but who will? Will Cierra Burdick have another big night for the Lady Vols after she scored 21 points against St. John's in the second round, or will Carter or Bashaara Graves deliver? Will Maryland get double-digit points from Lauren Mincy, Brionna Jones or Shatori Walker-Kimbrough? Few, if any, games in this round offer as many potential wild cards as this one.

Pick: Tennessee

No. 3 seed Louisville vs. No. 7 seed LSU

ESPN2, 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...