Top seeds Notre Dame, Tennessee advance in women’s NCAA Tournament

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2014 Women’s NCAA tournament bracket

Throughout the 2013-14 season two teams separated themselves from the competition in women’s college basketball: UConn and Notre Dame. Both teams entered the 2014 NCAA tournament undefeated, with the defending national champion Huskies boasting a 34-0 mark and Muffet McGraw’s Fighting Irish winning all 32 of their games.

In seasons past there would be at least two meetings between the programs (they met four times last season), as both were members of the Big East. But thanks to conference realignment there wasn’t a regular season meeting this year, with Notre Dame asserting its dominance in the ACC and UConn doing so in the American Athletic Conference.

With the teams on opposite sides of the NCAA tournament bracket the hope is that they’ll meet in the national title game, and Notre Dame took its first step towards the game by beating No. 16 Robert Morris 93-42 in Toledo. Freshman guard Michaela Mabrey led five Fighting Irish in double figures with 16 points off the bench, and as a team Notre Dame shot 59.4% from the field and 10-for-18 from beyond the arc.

Next up for Notre Dame, top seed in the Notre Dame Region, is No. 9 Arizona State, which beat No. 8 Vanderbilt 69-61. The Sun Devils were one of three lower-seeded teams to win on Saturday, with No. 12 BYU beating No. 5 NC State 72-57 in the Lincoln regional and No. 10 Florida State beating No. 7 Iowa State 55-44 in the Stanford regional.

Tennessee, the top seed in the Louisville regional, was also in action Saturday and the Lady Vols eliminated No. 16 Northwestern State by the final score of 70-46. After leading 22-20 at the half Holly Warlick’s team scored 48 points in the second half to remove any doubt.

All three two-seeds in action Saturday advanced, with Lincoln Region No. 2 Duke (87-45 over Winthrop), Notre Dame Region No. 2 Baylor (87-74 over Western Kentucky) and Stanford Region No. 2 Stanford (81-62 over South Dakota) moving on to the second round.

And in the wildest game of the day Lincoln Region No. 7 DePaul beat No. 10 Oklahoma 104-100, with the Blue Demons winning despite allowing 66 points in the second half. Megan Rogowski’s three-pointer with 40.5 seconds remaining gave DePaul the lead for good in a game that set an NCAA tournament record for the most points scored in a game that did not go to overtime.

VIDEO: Nebraska’s Shavon Shields stretchered off after scary fall

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Nebraska forward Shavon Shields was stretchered off of the floor after a scary fall as the Huskers were taking on Rutgers.

Nebraska was up by 17 in the second half when Shields bit on a pump fake and tried to block a Rutgers player’s shot. But his momentum carried him over the player’s shoulder, and he landed on what appeared to be up upper back, neck and right shoulder.

Here is the video. Be warned: it’s a nasty fall:

According to the broadcast, Shields lost consciousness on the floor and was taken to a local hospital.

Rick Pitino: ‘We should be penalized … but not this team’

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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One of the biggest storylines of Saturday’s college basketball schedule had everything to do with a team that no longer matters in the championship picture.

Less than 24 hours after being informed that the school would be imposing a postseason ban that will leave the Cardinals out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments, No. 19 Louisville tipped off against Boston College, and they did so without leading scorer Damion Lee, who is battling a knee issue.

How would the team respond to the decision — the despicable, shameful decision — that the university’s president made?

Well, it seems.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first eight minutes and cruised to a 79-47 win over an overmatched Boston College team in the Yum! Center.

And head coach Rick Pitino, after the quote, said exactly what everyone is thinking.

“We should be penalized, no question about it,” he said. “But not this team. But the NCAA didn’t make that decision. We made that decision.”

He’s totally right. The school sacrificed the season — and the only shot that a pair of fifth-year seniors would get to play in the NCAA tournament — to protect the school, the brand and the bottom-line moving forward. Like I said earlier, it’s despicable.

But credit the Cardinals for responding.

Because they still have something on the line. They’re just a game out of first place in the ACC, and while an ACC regular season title isn’t a shot to play in the ACC or NCAA tournament, it’s still a banner that would probably mean more to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis than any league title has meant to a Louisville player before.