Jeff Walz

Louisville women upset No. 1 Baylor, ending college career of Brittney Griner

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To say the least Sunday was a great day to be a Louisville Cardinal.

Just hours after the men’t team emphatically punched its ticket to the Final Four the women’s team pulled off a major upset, knocking off reigning national champion Baylor 82-81 in Oklahoma City.

Two free throws from fifth-year senior Monique Reid with 2.6 seconds remaining proved to be the difference, and the end result is Louisville’s first Elite Eight appearance since 2009 and the end of Brittney Griner’s collegiate career.

Griner is one of the most dominant players in the history of the sport but Jeff Walz’s Cardinals were able to frustrate the Baylor star, playing her physically throughout and limiting her to 14 points (4-of-10 FG) and ten rebounds.

And in the eyes of Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey, the game was allowed to be played too physically.

“I thought the game started out way too physical, way too physical,” said Mulkey. “I thought that all three of [the referees], if they go past this round of officiating, it will be sad for the game.”

The Cardinals led by as many as 19 points in the second half thanks to scalding-hot shooting from beyond the arc. At one point Louisville hit 15 of 20 shots from three, and they finished the night 16-of-25.

But the top-ranked Bears, who entered the game having won 32 straight, mounted a furious rally that received a boost in the form of Louisville point guard Shoni Schimmel (22 points) fouling out with just over four minutes remaining.

Two free throws from Odyssey Sims (28 points) with 9.1 seconds remaining gave Baylor its first lead of the game, but the Bears lost track of Reid on the ensuing inbounds play and the senior whose career was derailed by a serious knee injury was fouled at the basket by Griner.

Next up for Louisville is Midwest Region 2-seed Tennessee, which beat Oklahoma in the first half of the doubleheader. But there’s also the question of which team becomes the favorite as a result of Baylor’s defeat.

Notre Dame, which takes on Duke in Norfolk on Tuesday, would have to assume that role given the fact that the Fighting Irish has defeated the other remaining one-seed (UConn) three times this season.

However the overwhelming feeling has to be that with the one player no other team in the country could match (Griner) eliminated, anyone is capable of winning it all.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

BUBBLE BANTER: All of the action on the fringe of the NCAA tournament

Fred VanVleet
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Tonight’s bubble action. This post will be updated as the games are completed.

Cincinnati at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
Pitt at No. 12 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9:00 p.m.
Georgia at No. 22 Kentucky, 9:00 p.m.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.