Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's An ACC Party

By Mel Greenberg

So who will be the 1985-Villanova of the women's tournament?

That's when three Big East teams made the men's field in the Final Four.

Over the years, I've said the Final Four usually plays out as a reflection of the previous season. Down the stretch, the top of the AP Poll became dominated as a three-team affair in the ACC.

Yeah, I'll be the first to say that if the bracket deck had been shuffled differently, who knows what would have happened. And perhaps, Maryland might have beaten Tennessee, anyway, because that was the way I had projected the seeding to go in a 4-5 role in terms of matchup.

But understand one thing -- the road to the finish line used to be easy for the power hitters because there were so few of them. Now, you gotta through somebody.

Some say Rutgers was unduly punished for its loss to West Virginia. But as close as everyone was, that was deadly enough to drop the Scarlet Knights to line three. Had they gotten to the Big East title game and lost to UConn, they still would have been on line two, which meant they could not have been in the same place as Tennessee, but they still would have had to deal potentially with North Carolina or Duke.

That said, here's something that will go unnoticed except for goofballs like me who stay up late and think of things like this to research.

I looked back at all the brackets in NCAA history as Tuesday night's games came down the stretch and this is the first time in 25 years (at least by judging the scores) that all four region title games came down to the final minute or less.

And the previous round also had at least three games off the top of my head that also went to the wire.

Maybe it was karma that Tennessee and UConn both fell. Geno may get over it by Monday if he is named to the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield.

The double hit reminded me of something that happened a long, long time ago in 1978. At almost the same hour in a Region 3 title game in the old AIAW, a Delta State player missed a foul shot, preventing the ruling Lady Statesmen from advancing to the national finals.

At the same moment in Region IB, Immaculata was losing to Maryland, 80-79, guaranteeing the Terrapins a national tournament appearance where they advanced to the first-ever Final Four format in women's basketball and lost in the title game to Annie Meyers' UCLA team in Pauley Pavilion.

In the regional title game, Montclair State beat Maryland, giving longtime women's afficiando Joe Smith, a Montclair followerer, one of his early thrills. That team, incidentally, had Carol Blazejowski, now the honcho of the WNBA's New York Liberty.

On that note, it's off to College Park today for a scene-setter for the weekend. That's going to be a print story on Philly.com, but we may be back here with some of the action from the events.

On other aside. It seems like yesterday that UConn media nation all jumped off the bandwagon after the second loss to Rutgers. :)

-- Mel

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