Tennessee thought that SEC play prepared the Lady Vols for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
When the brackets were unveiled on March 17, the tournament selection committee agreed, giving UT and South Carolina No. 1 seeds and putting eight conference teams in the 64-team field.
But only one league team — Texas A&M — survived the Sweet 16. Tennessee, South Carolina and LSU all were beaten on Sunday. Kentucky fell in the Round of 16 on Saturday.
League teams aren’t measuring up as expected. A reason why is covered from Tennessee’s perspective by News-Sentinel columnist John Adams in Tuesday’s editions and online at govolsxtra.com.
Tennessee fell victim to Maryland and All-American forward Alyssa Thomas, who scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. She scored six consecutive baskets at one point during the second half.
Louisville All-American guard Shoni Schimmel scored 19 against injury-depleted LSU. North Carolina freshman star Diamond DeShields had 19 against South Carolina.
On Saturday, Baylor All-American Odyssey Sims hit Kentucky with 25 points.
The Associated Press will announce its All-American teams this week. The SEC’s best hope is sneaking a player on to the third team. Until that changes, these NCAA results probably won’t.
For those waiting and wondering about the recruiting decision of top prospect A’ja Wilson, you’re advised to be patient.
Wilson’s father, Roscoe, told Carl Adamec of snyUConn.com this weekend that the 6-foot-4 forward won’t think about the decision until after the McDonald’s High School All-America Game April 2 in Chicago. He said that his daughter will decide by the end of April.
The spring signing period begins April 16 and runs through May 21.
Tennessee, along with Connecticut, South Carolina and North Carolina, remain in the running for Wilson, who led Heathwood Hall to the South Carolina Independent Schools Association Class AAA state championship. She averaged 34.4 points, 14.5 rebounds, 5.4 blocks, 3.2 steals and 2.3 assists per game this season.
Wilson already has been named player of the year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, the Atlanta Tipoff Club and Parade Magazine.
Meanwhile, Tennessee signee Jaime Nared has joined Wilson as a Parade All-American. The 6-1 forward averaged 29 points, 14 rebounds and four steals a game this season for Westview High in Portland, Ore. She also will play in the McDonald’s game.
Of Nared, Oregon City High coach Kurt Guelsdorf said: “She’s the best player this side of the Rocky Mountains.”
The NCAA’s “nitty gritty” report regarding women’s basketball RPI is largely unchanged for Tennessee despite its SEC tournament championship.
The Lady Vols’ RPI ranked fifth and their strength of schedule was fourth last Monday. Victories over LSU, Texas A&M and Kentucky in Duluth, Ga., didn’t change their RPi. Their strength of schedule, oddly enough, dropped one spot to fifth. These rankings are more important to Tennessee’s NCAA tournament seeding than its jump of two spots to No. 4 in the weekly Associated Press Top 25.
Pending the outcome of Monday night’s Connecticut-Louisville game, Tennessee still has a good shot at one of the four top seeds, however. Duke ranks one spot ahead of UT in the “nitty gritty” report but shouldn’t get a No. 1 seed.
At this point, my guess is Tennessee will be put in the regional bracket hosted by Louisville as either the one or two seed.
The SEC is extending its “We Back Pat” initiative to the SEC women’s basketball tournament.
On Friday, fans are asked to wear purple to The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga., to support the Pat Summitt Foundation, which makes grants to advance research and provide support services in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
The first 1,500 fans wearing purple to the evening session will receive a Fierce Courage bracelet courtesy of the foundation. Tennessee plays at 6 p.m.