NCAA Round Up

With the conclusion of the regular season and start of the NCAA tournament in women's college basketball, Liberty assistant coaches Pat Coyle and Jeff House are back with their final predictions.

Jody Conradt
Renee Portland
Earlier in the year, Coach Coyle you stated that the SEC was the best overall conference and Coach House you responded with the Big12. With the completion of the regular season, do you still feel the same?
PC: Having seen most of the major conferences I still believe the SEC is the strongest conference but the Big 12 is also very, very good.

JH: The Big 12 boasts six teams in this year's NCAA tournament and the SEC has five in it. I'll stick with the Big 12 as the best conference although the SEC is closing the gap.

Going into the tournament, which team is the biggest sleeper?
PC: In my opinion, Oklahoma might be the hottest team going into the tournament. They upset everyone in the Big 12 to win the conference tournament. Also, Vanderbilt could knock off some of the higher seeds.

JH: I'm not sure if you can consider Notre Dame a "sleeper" as they were National Champions just two years ago. But they are playing great basketball right now and I am sure no one wants to play them right now.

Which team would others like to avoid in the first round of the NCAA tournament?
PC: Ohio State is a team I would not want to run into in the early rounds. They have re-grouped and are playing very well.

JH: Chattanooga is riding the longest winning streak in the country and they are playing at home, look for an upset! Arizona is another that I would not want to play early on and as they get deeper, they will get stronger.

In each top conference, pick one team you think will be a tough matchup next season?
PC: SEC: Tennessee because of their incoming class; Big 12: Texas will have just about everyone back; Big East: UConn, every year is a nightmare to play them.

JH: BIG East: Boston College because they have proven to be a real contender, knocking off UConn at home and playing them well all season; SEC: LSU is a favorite. If Temeka Johnson decides to stay for her fifth year of eligibility, and the continued development of Simone Augustus, LSU closes the gap between Tennessee and the rest of the SEC. BIG 12: Texas Tech. This year they finished 24-7 in the nation's best conference.

Which underclassmen will be the deciding factor for her team in the tournament?
PC: Tiffany Jackson may be the push that Texas needs to put them over the hump. Also, Brittany Hunter of Duke will be a key to her team as they make another run to the National Championship.

JH: Simone Augustus for LSU. She is explosive and can get her own shot and can put points on the board in a hurry.

PREDICTION TIME

Final Four
PC: Tennessee, UConn, Texas and Duke
JH: Tennessee, UConn, Texas and Duke

Player of the Year
PC: Alana Beard
JH: Alana Beard

Coach of the Year
PC: Jody Conradt, Texas
JH: Rene Portland, Penn State

2004 NCAA Champion
PC: Texas
JH: Duke