Head to Head: Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird
Two former collegiate rivals break down the 2004 Women's NCAA Tournament

By Sue Bird, Seattle Storm

Not to worry out there, I think UConn is doing just fine. The Huskies had some tough losses that shook them up a bit this season and affected their confidence. I know they are disappointed with their Big East losses, but it is very similar to last year. Losing in the Big East Tournament last year motivated them. They called that loss the biggest win of the year. We'll see what happens this year. This is what you prepare for all year. They have only a few games left.

But you know what? They deserved a 2-seed. They had four losses, two to unranked opponents. The other teams did a better job of taking care of business down the stretch, but it's hard to say. Whether they were a number one or a number two seed, as long as they are in the East bracket, it doesn't really matter. They are essentially playing at home up until the Final Four, and that is huge. Bridgeport, Connecticut and Hartford, Connecticut. It wouldn't matter where in Connecticut. I really feel badly for Penn State, to be honest, who has a legitimate gripe about how things turned out, but they lost in their conference tournament as well.

In this Tournament, it is extremely hard for mid-major teams to go very far, but I think teams like the third-seeded Oklahoma and Houston can do some real damage because of the seniors and the leadership on those teams. UC-Santa Barbara may take some people by surprise. They have April McDivitt, who transferred from Tennessee, and they are playing their own backyard in Santa Barbara. Georgia also has a very good player named Christi Thomas. I think Stanford will do well because they will be disappointed that they only got an unfairly high seed. I also think Purdue will do well. And definitely follow Stacy Stephens on Texas. Also, there are two girls that went to my high school on George Washington.

But I'm going out on a real limb and picking all of the other one seeds. UConn over Texas, with Duke and Tennessee also making it.

Sue Bird, University of Connecticut '02

Photo Credits:
Sue Bird: Jeff Reinking/WNBAE/Getty Images
Tamika Catchings: Ron Hoskins/WNBAE/Getty Images

By Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever

Come Tournament time, anyone can win. It is these surprises that make the entire event so great. In the NCAA Tournament, like any playoffs really, anything can happen. Every team and not just the top teams bring their best games.

I'm picking the University of Tennessee to win it all. One of the things they need to concentrate on is coming out every game and putting forth the best effort. There is not a time anymore when you can come unprepared to play. You have to watch film, practice hard, pay attention to what the coaches are saying to you, do your own homework, and be ready to play.

This year, there are the two players that everyone is watching. Taurasi and Beard are good, but I am also excited about Chandi Jones on Houston and Tasha Butts from Tennessee. She should go high in the Draft and has certainly opened some eyes, stepping into the role that she did. Also from Tennessee is Ashley Robinson. She has come a long way since the beginning of the year and will definitely be picked by someone and make a contribution.

So when all is said and done, I'm going to go with Tennessee over Duke in the Championship game, and also look for UConn and Texas to make it there as well.

Tamika Catchings, University of Tennessee '01

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