Carol Ross is a sharp coach who has turned around Ole Miss in only two short seasons.
Tabbed to finish seventh in the SEC in a preseason poll, the Lady Rebels have been surpassing expectations all season. They finished fifth in the SEC and then earned back-to-back NCAA berths for the first time in eight seasons.
Armintie Price, a first-team All-SEC performer and SEC defensive player of the year, led Ole Miss with 16.7 points in the regular season. She's a great slasher and rebounder (team-high 10.3), but the Lady Rebels can sometimes depend on her too much. Other than Amber Watts, an All-SEC second-team selection who adds 12 points and seven rebounds, Ole Miss doesn't get much consistent scoring from anyone else and has a very short bench.
While this isn't the time of year for new stars to emerge, every role player needs to step up. In game such as this one -- 8 vs. 9 matcups are notoriously hard to predict -- teams need third and even fourth options. Ole Miss doesn't have that right now.
The Lady Rebels do, however, get after you defensively and were able to pull off victories over the likes of Vanderbilt and Georgia this season. They need to use those wins to keep their confidence high as they enter the NCAA Tournament.
Speaking of solid defense, George Washington -- which faces Ole Miss on Sunday (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) in what could be the best first-round game in the Tempe Regional -- plays about as complicated a matchup zone as you're going to see at this level. Joe McKeown's defense is extremely unsettling for opponents, and the Colonials' traps are very tough to beat.
George Washington's Anna Montañana is also a very tough matchup. The senior forward from Valencia, Spain, is extremely versatile, can play all five positions, makes everybody around her better and isn't afraid to have the ball in her hands when it counts. Kim Beck has also had a wonderful season running the point as a freshman.
George Washington, also a really strong rebounding team, had won nine games in a row before falling to Temple in the A-10 final. Ole Miss, on the other hand, is just 5-5 in its past 10.
George Washington is the pick to advance.