The favorite: Baylor. The Bears are the defending national champions and have lost one game all season (32-1). But they haven't just won, they've dominated. The Bears have outscored opponents 216-64 in fastbreak points and have 1,517 points in the paint compared to 554 for their opponents.
Other contenders: Tennessee. The Vols are the reigning SEC champions and have rebounded from an abysmal season (by UT standards) last year under first-year coach Holly Warlick. They are once again playing like a championship contender.
Best player: Brittney Griner. The senior center has been a force since she joined the Bears four years ago. She is only the second player to earn Big 12 player of the year honors three times and is the NCAA's all-time leader in blocks, men or women. Griner has 3,203 points, second all-time among women in the NCAA. She presents a dominant presence in the paint for the Bears, but she can also shoot and pass.
Dream matchup: Baylor vs. Tennessee. The Vols lost four starters from last season but have played solid basketball all season. Griner is undoubtedly the star in this region, but there's another matchup worth hoping for. Vols guard Meighan Simmons has evolved and become an impressive true point guard who can also shoot at a high percentage. It would be interesting to see Simmons and Baylor junior guard Odyssey Sims square off running their teams.
Antonya English, Times staff writer