Guru's College Report: NCAA Top Seeds Outlook Becomes Unsettled After Stanford Loss
Stanford's Pac-12 conference loss to Bay Area rival California at home Sunday did more than just shatter the Cardinal's long conference win-streak as well as hit them with a second-straight home setback at Maples Pavillion following the blowout to Connecticut just before the new year.
Suddenly the race for the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament leading to the Final Four in New Orleans is not as solidified as it had appeared.
If the committee were meeting today, which of course it is not, instead of this March, the deliberation for the top of the bracket would merit more discussion.
Since nearly the start of the season, Baylor, the defending champion and prohibitive favorite, Connecticut, Duke, and Stanford were considered best bets to lead the four regions when the 64-team field and pairings are rolled out via ESPN on the night of Selection Monday.
But now that Notre Dame has beaten Connecticut and suffered just a loss to Baylor while California has dislodged Stanford with a second loss, the Irish have a case to be part of the mix.
Duke is alive as the last unbeaten team in Division I -- men or women.
However, the Blue Devils have yet to be tested but in a few weeks they will be paying a visit to Connecticut and a win would clearly keep things muddy.
That will begin to raise a bunch of "what ifs?" the rest of the way and perhaps if Maryland or Penn State were to run the table, respectively, in the Atlantic Coast and Big Ten Conferences, or if Kentucky did likewise in the Southeastern Conference, each may also have a case, though the cream of the crop may still be able to wield their way over everyone else.
But at least there's interest and some suspense to hang on to and help keep interest as the conference wars and a few intersectional battles to come heat things up.
Poll Shake-Up Ahead
If Stanford gets knocked out of the Top Five Monday when the next Associated Press women's poll is released it will be the first time in 40 weeks since right before the poll of Jan. 3, 2011, that the Cardinal will not reside in the highest rent district, with No. 1 being the penthouse.
Meanwhile, Connecticut Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma keeps hitting some milestones with the Huskies' longtime appearances in the rankings since he became coach and made them a national force.
Auriemma recently passed retired Texas coach Jody Conradt into fifth for all-time poll appearances at 396 and he also passed the former Longhorns great into fourth for most appearances at the same school with the same number.
Now he is starting to move on Rutgers coach and sister Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer, trailing her by just 11 appearances prior to Monday's release.
If the Scarlet Knights fail to return to the rankings this season, Auriemma will be knocking on the door to move ahead after the final poll, though there may not be enough weeks left until the outset of 2013-14 to make the jump.
On Monday Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie will move into the select group of coaches on the all-time list, tying former Kansas coach Marian Washington at 26th with 176 combined appearances -- 105 with the Blue Devils after the new poll is out and 71 previously when she was at Michigan State.
In the next few weeks McCallie should move up another spot in 25th passing former Western Kentucky and Nebraska coach Paul Sanderford at 182.
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, who is Women's Basketball Hall of Fame bound in Knoxville, Tenn., this June, will soon pass his former
Blair recently went ahead of the late Sue Gunter, whom he replaced at Stephen F. Austin when she took the LSU job.
Meannwhile, there's much happening at the Guru's home base with several local coaches hitting a few mileestones Sunday.
Just click here to go to PhilahoopsW - http://philahoopsw.com - for the roundups and there is also the latest Dishin and Swishin - Philly Style podcast in which yours truly and co-host David Siegel, your host on the national podcast at hooopfeed.com, , interviewed Princeton coach Courtney Banghart.
That's it for the moment.
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