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Big East women's basketball tournament preview

Big East women's basketball tournament

When/where: Today-Tuesday, XL Center, Hartford, Conn.

Today's schedule: No. 12 Syracuse vs. No. 13 St. John's, noon; No. 9 Marquette vs. No. 16 Cincinnati, 2 p.m.; No. 10 Georgetown vs. No. 15 Seton Hall, 6 p.m.; No. 11 West Virginia vs. No. 14 Providence, 8 p.m.

TV: Sunday's quarterfinals and Monday's semifinals are on ESPNU, and Tuesday's championship is on ESPN.

Favorite: Easily, it's No. 1 and undefeated Connecticut, which won all 16 league games by at least 10 points, including eight by 30 points or more. The two closest games were 10-point wins at home against Notre Dame and Monday at Rutgers, but it's hard to imagine the Huskies and Maya Moore losing in Hartford. UConn has averaged nearly 11,000 at home games this season, and you can count this tournament as a home event.

Dark horses: Louisville lost to Connecticut and West Virginia, but was otherwise dominant, with all but three wins in double figures, led by senior star Angel McCoughtry, the league's top scorer (23.4 points per game) and No. 2 rebounder (9.3). The only other team with a reasonable chance is Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of 13, though the two losses are by 53 at Connecticut and 24 at Louisville. The top four teams get the first two days off, a huge advantage that should make upsets tough in the quarterfinals.

What USF must do: Win Saturday's second-round game, which should clinch the school's second-ever NCAA Tournament berth. USF finished 8-8 and got a first-round bye with the No. 8 seed, but the Bulls will likely face a Marquette team that has beaten them twice this season. USF senior G Shantia Grace is tied for second in the league in assists in conference play and was one of 11 players named to the All-Big East first team Thursday.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

Shantia Grace

Big East women's basketball tournament preview 03/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 5, 2009 10:59pm]
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