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DWHoops Presents ACC Women's Basketball Digest

  Weekly ACC WBB Digest for 3/20/2013
Volume 1, Number 18 (NCAA Preview)
 
By Rob Clough, Photos by Orin Day

This week's Digest takes a look at the 2013 NCAA Tournament first and second round matchups for North Carolina, Maryland, Miami, and Florida State, plus NC State's first opponent in the WNIT.

New: A preview of the Durham site including Duke, Hampton, Oklahoma State, and DePaul is now available at DWHoops.com.

UNC - #3 Bridgeport Region (Newark, DE)

First Round: #3 UNC (28-6) vs #14 Albany (27-3)

Where: Newark Pod, Bridgeport Region

When: 3/24/13, 2:30 PM

Albany's Top Players: Guard Ebone Henry (14 ppg), center Megan Craig (11 ppg), guard Lindsey Lowrie (11 ppg, 42% 3FG)

The Skinny: The Great Danes go eight deep and regularly put four players into double figures. Craig is 6-8 but comes off the bench. They got pounded by Michigan State early in the year and I'm not sure they have the raw physical strength to go up against the likes of Xylina McDaniel and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. That said, there are two interesting equalizers: Albany loves to pressure the ball and get points off turnovers and UNC is frequently more than willing to oblige. Albany also plays excellent perimeter defense and holds opponents to 49 ppg. The Heels have inconsistent perimeter shooting. The result could be an ugly defensive struggle, one where the Heels score a lot of second chance points and get a lot of opportunities at the foul line. The difference will be Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who will come up with enough plays to avoid the upset.

Second Round: Winner vs #6 Delaware (30-3) /#11 West Virginia (17-13)

When: 3/26/13, TBD

Delaware's Top Players: Wing Elena Delle Donne (25 ppg, 9 rpg, 49% 3FG), forward Danielle Parker (9 ppg, 9 rpg), guard Lauren Carra (11 ppg, 6 rpg)

West Virginia's Top Players: Guard Christal Caldwell (13 ppg, 36% 3FG), center Ayana Dunning (10 ppg, 6 rpg), guard Taylor Palmer (10 ppg)

The Skinny: Delaware is more than Delle Donne, as several players made key plays in the CAA title game down the stretch. That said, EDD is one of the best players in the country and will be a great player at the next level. A 6-5 wing, she can handle the ball and pull up from anywhere and drain shots. She can drive to the basket. She can play real, low-post defense. She almost never turns the ball over and fouls just as rarely. West Virginia is an incredibly battle-tested team, having won a number of games against Big XII teams as well as Virginia. They are afraid of no one but don't have a dominant superstar who can carry them in close games. They will make this game close, but I expect Delle Donne to make big shots down the stretch (she's also a 92% foul shooter). The Heels would be a much tougher matchup; athletic Georgetown and Maryland teams accounted for two of Delaware's three losses on the season. (It should be noted that EDD was out for the first game and came back from illness for the Terp game; the Hens haven't lost since). If this is a track meet, the Heels will win. A few factors point in Delaware's favor: I don't think UNC has a player who can shut down Delle Donne one-on-one, and bigs who can shoot have tormented the Heels this year; Delaware is an excellent rebounding club, with underrated Parker doing a lot of dirty work; the Hens will be at home and most of the 5000 in attendance will be screaming for them to win. It's unfortunate for the Heels that they have to play on the home floor of a lower seed, but that's the screwed-up system we're currently stuck with. I just don't see Delle Donne losing in her final home game.




UNC senior center Waltiea Rolle will be playing in her final NCAA Tournament. UNC senior center Waltiea Rolle will be playing in her final NCAA Tournament.
Sylvia Hatchell and UNC may face #6 seed Delaware on the Blue Hens' home court. Sylvia Hatchell and UNC may face #6 seed Delaware on the Blue Hens' home court.


Maryland - #4 Bridgeport Region (College Park, MD)

First Round: #4 Maryland (24-7) vs #13 Quinnipiac (30-2)

Where: College Park Pod, Bridgeport Region

When: 3/23/13, 11:15AM

Quinnipiac's Top Players: Guard Felicia Barron (13 ppg), forward Brittany McQuain (11 ppg, 8 rpg) and guard Jasmine Martin (13 ppg, 37% 3FG)

The Skinny: Quinnipiac has won their last 22 games in a row and ran the table in the NEC. They score a lot of points, take care of the ball and go about nine deep. It's a confident group that knows how to win. They're a 13 seed because their best win was against St. John's. They got hammered by an inconsistent Georgia Tech club. Their biggest problem with the Terps is that on the season, Quinnipiac was -2 per game on the boards. Maryland is one of the top rebounding clubs in the country. The Terps may be shorthanded and uneven in their backcourt, but the one thing they can do is attack the glass -- especially after a couple weeks' rest. I expect Maryland to roll here.

Second Round: winner vs #5 Michigan State (24-8) or #12 Marist (26-6)

When: 3/25/13, TBD

Michigan State's Top Players: Guard Klarissa Bell (11 ppg, 6 rpg), guard Jasmine Thomas (10 ppg), center Becca Mills (9 ppg)

Marist's Top Players: Wing Elizabeth Beynnon (12 ppg), guard Casey Dulin (10 ppg), guard Leanne Ockenden (9 ppg)

The Skinny: Michigan State is a fundamentally sound, slow and brutally physical club. They set nasty picks with their big, wide players in order to set up wide-open threes. They also block out exceptionally well and start a few breaks with carefully-timed outlet passes. Marist is another extremely disciplined team that plays excellent, stick zone defense and runs a patterned offense built on screens designed to get the ball to open shooters. They are not especially physical and were -2 on the year on the boards. Though Marist is frequently an NCAA tournament spoiler, Michigan State is a bad matchup for them. They'll go zone and try to bait MSU's guards into taking contested jumpers. I expect MSU to respond by setting higher picks and trying to get the defense to move just enough to set up corner threes. Marist will have a tough time with MSU's size and physical play. One wild card is foul trouble; MSU is not especially deep and losing a big could level the playing field a bit. That said, I expect Michigan State to win this game. They will face an opponent in Maryland that is similarly limited in the depth of its roster. Maryland can get physical too and won't be afraid of MSU's bangers. The difference-maker here will be Alyssa Thomas. MSU has no real answer for her at wing and Thomas will slice through MSU's defense enough times to get a reasonably comfortable win as Maryland wins the battle of the boards. One aside regarding Marist: don't be surprised to see Ohio State aggressively pursue Marist coach Brian Giorgis now that Jim Foster has stepped down.




NCAA home games should help power Alyssa Thomas and Maryland to the Sweet Sixteen. NCAA home games should help power Alyssa Thomas and Maryland to the Sweet Sixteen.
Coach Brian Giorgis and Marist are a potential wild card in College Park. Coach Brian Giorgis and Marist are a potential wild card in College Park.

Miami - #8 Norfolk Region (Iowa City, Iowa)

First Round: #8 Miami (21-10) vs #9 Iowa (20-12)

Where: Iowa City Pod, Norfolk Region

When: 3/24/13, 7:30PM

Iowa's Top Players: Center Morgan Johnson (15 ppg, 8 rpg), wing Jaime Printy (13 ppg), guard Samantha Logic (9 ppg, 6 apg)

The Skinny: The Hawkeyes are well-acquainted with the ACC, having lost to UNC and FSU earlier in the year. They couldn't keep up with the quickness of the former team and the scoring punch of the latter. Iowa is typical of the Big Ten tractor style of play: a couple of bigs who can score down low and move the ball out to a contingent of shooters. Where Iowa differs a bit from other clubs is the presence of elite PG Logic. She can break down a defense and make everyone around her better because of her floor vision. That said, she's a risk-taker who can be turned over (nearly four times a game). The Canes match up well with the Hawkeyes, as they have Pepper Wilson and Maria Brown to throw at Johnson. The key to the game for Miami will be point guard play; if Suriya McGuire & Michelle Woods can wrap up Logic, then the Canes will win. I think they can pull the upset.

Second Round: winner vs #1 Notre Dame (31-1) /#16 Tennessee-Martin (19-14)

When: : 3/26/13, TBD

Notre Dame's Top Players: Guard Skylar Diggins (17 ppg, 5 apg), guard Kayla McBride (15 ppg), center Natalie Achonwa (14 ppg, 9 rpg).

The Skinny: I'm going to go ahead and say that UTM has zero chance of beating Notre Dame. The Irish are an elite squad whose only loss is to Baylor. They beat UConn three times and Louisville twice. They defeated Tennessee, Purdue, UCLA and Texas A&M. This is a great, veteran squad with four lethal scorers (Jewell Loyd is one of the best frosh in the country). They are a great rebounding team. They turn teams over and keep their own miscues under control. Beating them will require a team that can put up points, rebound and defend. Miami or Iowa simply don't have enough guns to beat the Irish, and if they face Miami, the Irish don't even have to worry about the momentum of a home crowd.




Katie Meier and Miami face a tough draw this year, beginning with Iowa on the Hawkeyes' home court. Katie Meier and Miami face a tough draw this year, beginning with Iowa on the Hawkeyes' home court.
Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins will be playing with the urgency of a senior in this year's NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins will be playing with the urgency of a senior in this year's NCAA Tournament.

Florida State - #8 Oklahoma City Region (Waco, TX)

First Round: #8 Florida State (22-9) vs #9 Princeton (22-6)

Where: Waco Pod, Oklahoma City Region

When: 3/24/13, 5:10 PM

Princeton's Top Players: Guard Niveen Rasheed (17 ppg, 9 rpg), forward Kristen Helmstetter (9 ppg), center Megan Bowen (9 ppg, 4 rpg)

The Skinny: The Tigers had a very high RPI thanks to an ambitious non-conference schedule, but their only really good win was against St. Joseph's. As a result, I think they're probably over-seeded. They were a punishing, physical team in the Ivy League, and I'm not sure that will fly against an FSU team that dealt with that on a nightly basis in the ACC. That said, Rasheed is a legit ACC-level talent who is tough to stop off the dribble or on the block. The good news is that Natasha Howard was essentially born to guard players like Rasheed, and I suspect she'll limit her scoring. The rest of the Tigers are solid role players, and I don't think they can stop the combined FSU scoring attack. Look for Alexa Deluzio to lead her team to the win.

Second Round: winner vs. #1 Baylor/#16 Prairie View A&M

Where: Waco Pod, Oklahoma City Region

When: : 3/26/13

Baylor's Top Players:Brittney Griner (24 ppg, 9 rpg), Odyssey Sims (13 ppg, 5 apg), Brooklyn Pope (10 ppg, 6 rpg)

The Skinny:: I won't even pretend that Prairie View has a chance against Baylor. The defending national champs are as deadly as ever. Their only loss was by two points against Stanford when Sims was out for a game. They ran the table in the very competitive Big XII and beat a bunch of other ranked teams. Griner has added considerable touch and subtlety to her power game, making her brutally difficult to guard. She's even averaging over 2 apg. Sims is the team's emotional leader and a hard-nosed defender.The Lady Bears are deep, experienced and hungry. Florida State, if they get to play them, would be reduced to jacking up threes by Baylor's defense, and that just won't cut it.




Sue Semrau and Florida State will potentially face contrasting styles in taking on Princeton, then perhaps Baylor. Sue Semrau and Florida State will potentially face contrasting styles in taking on Princeton, then perhaps Baylor

NC State - WNIT (Raleigh)

First Round: NC State (16-16) vs Richmond (16-15)

Where: Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, NC

When: 3/21/13, 7:00PM

Richmond's Top Players: Guard Kristina King (13 ppg), forward Samantha Bilney (11 ppg), wing Becca Wann (11 ppg, 8 rpg)

The Skinny: The Spiders played a lot of good teams but beat very few of them -- much like NC State. This game could be a real shootout, as neither team is very good defensively. What's clear is that the Wolfpack Women have size, shooting, depth and experience. They have the added motivation of trying to go out with a bang for senior Marissa Kastanek. The key here will be rebounding. The Spiders are a poor rebounding group, while the Pack have Kody Burke and Markeisha Gatling in the paint. NC State must dominate the boards to win, and they have to get fully engaged games from their bigs. If they have to rely on their shooting to win the game, they'll be in trouble against a Spider squad that doesn't mind getting in that kind of shootout. If State can force some Richmond mistakes and hold them to one-and-done, they should win by double digits. We'll see how dialed-in State is for this contest. If the Wolfpack Women advance, they'd face the winner of James Madison and NC A&T, site to be determined.




Despite the disappointment of not earning an NCAA bid, Marissa Kastanek will be playing every NIT game as if it's her last. Despite the disappointment of not earning an NCAA bid, Marissa Kastanek will be playing every NIT game as if it's her last.

The Digest will return on Thursday, March 28th to recap and preview more postseason action. To join the Digest for the 2013-2014 season including a printable copy of our 2014 Annual, click here.


 

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