Price one of nation's top three defenders
Editor's note: Nancy Lieberman is breaking down the best first-round game in each region. Here, the ESPN analyst examines the Dayton Regional's most intriguing matchup.
Noon ET Sunday (ESPN2/ESPNU)
Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Conn.
|MORE FROM LIEBERMAN|
|For Nancy Lieberman's other breakdowns on the best first-round game in each regional, click on the links below:
• Cal-Notre Dame
(noon ET Sunday, ESPN2)
• New Mexico-UWGB
(7 p.m. ET Sunday, ESPN2)
(9 p.m. ET Sunday, ESPN2)
One of the best things about March Madness is that it affords us the opportunity to see some players we might not have had a chance to watch during the regular season.
And come noon ET Sunday, there will be some must-see TV when Armintie Price takes the floor.
How good is she? If the Mississippi senior was in the WNBA, she'd make the league's first-team all-defensive squad. Price, who leads the nation with 3.8 steals per game, is easily one of the top three college defenders in the nation.
But don't be fooled -- Price is great on both ends. As fans who have seen her play know, she has limited range. But at Ole Miss, with teammate Ashley Awkward getting her shots off anytime she wants, Price doesn't have to be a long-range scorer.
Still, she leads Ole Miss with 18.1 points per game, is a great rebounder (9.1) and simply creates offense because of her incredible hustle and great athleticism. In fact, that's the way Carol Ross' teams always play -- the defense provides opportunities for the offense. The Rebels force 24.6 turnovers per game and scored key wins over LSU and SEC tournament champion Vanderbilt.
TCU's biggest wins were over BYU, New Mexico and DePaul. Three Horned Frogs average double figures, but everything goes through Adrianne Ross, who scores 17.5 points per game on 43 percent shooting from the field. The Mountain West's leading scorer has hit 40 3-pointers, though that ranks second to Ashley Davis, who has knocked down 74 treys and shoots 42 percent from downtown.
Both Davis (13.9 ppg) and LSU transfer Hanna Biernacka (11.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg) are seniors, and their experience and contributions are also very important to the mix.
TCU has won six of its last nine games and goes eight players deep.
Who wins? For as much as Price is overlooked, so is Ole Miss, which I think will win. The Rebels are only seven players deep, but they might be the best team most fans don't know much about. But the Rebels play in the toughest conference, which means they have a better strength of schedule and are more tournament-tested. Ross has done a great job. And Price will be assigned to defend Ross.
Nancy Lieberman, an ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage. Contact her at www.nancylieberman.com.
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