- Mechelle Voepel, espnW.com
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Here in the "media hotel," there's a channel on the TV that plays nothing but highlights of past Women's Final Fours. Any time I'm in my room, that channel is on.
As I write this, in fact, for the third time I'm experiencing "Old Dominion Glory." That would be the 1985 Final Four.
(I swear, this film makes 1985 seem like it was centuries ago: the uniforms, the hairstyles, the shots of fans' reactions, the "feel" of the camera work. Narrator Peter Thomas -- you might not recognize the name but you'd know the voice instantly; he's the guy who has done a billion things, including "Forensic Files" recently -- has the kind of intonation that could be 1955 or could be right now. In this case, his voice helps make this highlight show seem incredibly old.)
Anyway, nothing at all against ODU, but I'm feeling just a little sad because one of the all-time greatest players in the sport, Teresa Edwards, just lost the national championship game for the third time in the last 36 hours.
That was Georgia's second Women's Final Four heartbreak. The first was in 1983. There have been three more since: in 1995, '96 and '99.
And I bring all this ancient history up to illustrate something I've long found bizarre. The Southeastern Conference has been the top league in women's collegiate basketball since the NCAA era began in 1982. Yet, still, only one SEC program has won a national championship: Tennessee.
Seven SEC programs -- Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Vanderbilt and Tennessee -- have combined for 29 appearances in the Women's Final Four through this year. Tennessee has 16 of those and has won six titles.
But the rest of the league is 0-for-13 as far as winning it all at the Final Four. Unfortunately for Georgia, it leads the way in that category, going 0-for-5. Auburn lost in three consecutive championship games (1988, '89 and '90), and LSU -- which fell 68-57 to Baylor here at the RCA Dome on Sunday night -- now has lost twice in a row in the semifinals.
Which leads me to another Final Four highlight show -- I've seen this one twice -- called "Cardinal Rule." That's 1990. While it's fun to see the great Jennifer Azzi in action for Stanford, how can you not sympathize with poor Auburn, which lost its third straight title game that year?
So often, Tennessee has been the obstacle that kept its fellow SEC teams from winning it all. But in '90, Virginia knocked out Tennessee in the East Regional final. The fact that the Final Four was in Knoxville, Tenn., and the Orange Crush wasn't actually around to get in the way should have brought some karmic help to Auburn, right? But it didn't. I watched it and felt bad all over again for Carolyn Jones, Linda Godby and Chantel Tremitiere.
OK, I know, some of you might be saying, "You're feeling sorry for SEC teams? Are you insane?" But the thing is, it IS hard to get so close and not win it all.
Someday soon, another SEC team besides Tennessee surely has to take the national title. But ... I'm really surprised at how long I've been thinking that, without it happening yet.
With that, I'll end this and for the second time watch "Perfect:" the 1995 Final Four won by 35-0 Connecticut. And, yes, I'm sympathizing with Georgia's La'Keshia Frett and Saudia Roundtree. Because I already know how this one ends for them: Tennessee takes them out.
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.
The SEC has been the top league in the NCAA era began. Yet, only one SEC program has won a title: Tennessee.