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.
By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The lights flickered against Temple right at the end of the Owls’ third quarter courtesy of South Florida sensation Courtney Williams and then went dark the rest of the way Sunday night in the semifinals of The American Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament here at the Mohegan Sun Arena where the second seeded Bulls topped the third seeded Owls 64-46.
In terms of the hardware available out of here it’s also likely the end of the line for 20th-ranked USF (23-8) considered that the Bulls on Monday night at 7 p.m will contest three-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut, the top seed which made quick work of Tulane in an 82-35 rout of Tulane to go 31-0 and remain unbeaten against AAC foes in the three-year history of the conference.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, the lights briefly powered up for Villanova earlier in the day but couldn’t sustain the brief burst of energy and the second-seeded Wildcats fell to seventh-seeded Creighton 57-48 at DePaul University, the first time that upset by seed happened in the Big East women’s tournament since 2008.
The Blue Jays (16-16) swept all three meetings with the Wildcats this season.
The setbacks left both Temple and Villanova in limbo to play a waiting game until next Monday night when the two Philadelphia Big Five schools will learn whether or not NCAA at-large bids have been extended to the 64-team draw, which will be revealed at 7 p.m on ESPN.
On ESPN bracketologist Charlie Crème’s latest projection,Temple (20-11) is still in the field while Villanova (19-11) was dropped after the loss, primarily because of The knee injury several weeks ago to star senior Caroline Coyer.
Meanwhile, on the same bracket he replaced Villanova with Princeton while also leaving Penn in the field as the projected Ivy champion.
If that came about it would be history in that Ivy League schools have never been issued at-large bids since the NCAA began the women’s basketball championship in 1981-82.
His move is an interesting assumption because for the second time in three years Penn will visit Princeton at Jadwin Gym in central New Jersey late Tuesday afternoon with both the Quakers and Tigers tied for first and meeting each other.
It’s the only two times in Ivy history for the men or women that the race came down to the last game with both teams tied for first scheduled to meet each other.
Two seasons ago Penn upset Princeton in Jadwin, marking the only time to date in the last six years that the Tigers didn’t win the race, which is the only conference one that doesn’t have a postseason tournament involved.
Penn edged Princeton at home in The Palestra back in January at the start of the chase and both had not lost since then until Penn was shocked at Cornell a week ago.
So it is interesting what Crème might think if Princeton is the champion and Penn would need favor shone from the eyes of the committee.
The popular opinion from many people not actually watching either team is the Ivy is a one-bid league, a perception that does not sit well with Penn coach Mike McLaughlin, who has turned Penn into a team to be feared, the way Courtney Banghart reversed the culture of the Tigers.
“Both teams have RPI’s in the 30s, have played quality schedules and done well,” McLaughlin said after both teams emerged from the weekend again easily sweeping the former 1-2 tandem punch of Dartmouth and Harvard in the league.
“I think it sucks when people automatically say, Ivies, one bid,” McLaughlin fumed. “I don’t know how you change that.”
Maybe adding a conference tournament might help.
A year ago Princeton’s notoriety was enhanced by an unbeaten record and national ranking.
But while most observers felt the Tigers were worthy of at least a sixth seed, which might have even included playing at home, they were made an eighth, highest ever for an Ivy team, and sent to top-seeded Maryland in the region, where they became the second Ivy school to win a first-round game but was then knocked out by the Terrapins, who won their second straight Big Ten title on Sunday.
Whoever doesn’t make the NCAA field, those locals mentioned here will quickly be grabbed by the WNIT in which a year ago Temple made it to the final four.
Drexel, which plays in the Colonial Athletic Association Thursday as the No. 2 seed will land in the WNIT if it doesn’t win the CAA, which IS being held at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., outside Washington for the last time before moving back to school sites with a three-year start showing top seed (this time) James Madison, Drexel and Delaware as the first three places the event will be held in succesive seasons.