Lobos-Utes battle as exciting as others
Sunday is the big whiparound day on ESPN2. Lots and lots going on. All good matchups. Whatever games you end up watching should be interesting, because they all have significant story lines.
Which games will be seen in your area? Click here to check out maps for the home market protected games -- areas which will see their home-market games in their entirety. The rest of the country will be part of ESPN2's whiparound coverage, where ESPN2 takes viewers to the best action from the games.
For example: New Mexico at Utah, one of the four 5 p.m. ET games. Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Albuquerque on a night New Mexico was host to BYU. After that victory, the Lobos players were asked about their next game, which was a visit by Utah. A television reporter, perhaps looking for something semi-juicy, inquired about what it was like to face the Utes ... since, as he suggested, Utah coach Elaine Elliott and New Mexico coach Don Flanagan probably aren't on each other's Christmas-card list.
The Lobos didn't bite at all. To the contrary, they gave an accurate assessment of Utah's strengths and why that was always such a tough game for them.
"Utah is the smartest team in the Mountain West," New Mexico's Mandi Moore said. "They've got a lot of experience, and they just don't ever make many mistakes."
The Lobos went on to win that game against the Utes 61-55 in front of 14,890. Both teams are vying for the MWC top spot again. Last year, Utah and New Mexico tied for the regular-season title. Then New Mexico won the MWC tournament championship game over Utah, which -- inexcusably -- was left out of the NCAA Tournament.
This season, both teams already have made pretty good cases for NCAA inclusion. Yes, that's B-O-T-H, selection-committee members.
In key Big 12 road games so far, K-State beat Texas Tech but lost to Baylor and Iowa State. The Wildcats, who are in a four-way tie for the Big 12 lead, need this win for their hopes of winning the league title.
Irvin, who just became the NCAA's career leader in blocks last Saturday, led TCU to victory in that game. Sunday, she goes against a strong DePaul squad led by Khara Smith. But we should also mention DePaul freshman Allie Quigley, who is second on the team in scoring at 14.1 points per game and has really helped fill in after the difficult loss of Charlene Smith to a season-ending injury after just six games. Quigley is also averaging 3.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds.
Sorry to pick on Vandy, but is this really a rivalry? The Commodores are piloting a long-lost ship in this series. Tennessee leads it 43-6. Vandy has beaten Tennessee three times since 1990. This matchup usually goes one of two ways: 1) Vandy gets off to a good start, but Tennessee always comes back, and; 2) Vandy is never in it.
Hopefully, for the sake of good television, Vandy will surprise us.
Purdue, like Oklahoma, needs victories, period. The Boilermakers beat Penn State on Sunday and have had a bye week in preparation for Minnesota. They might be walking into a hornet's nest, though.
However, point guard Erin Grant has been tough-as-nails all season, and if the rest of the Lady Raiders can come close to matching her in that department, Tech could take this game.Mechelle Voepel of the Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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