Commentary

Virginia, Temple will excel in Trenton

Updated: March 17, 2009, 10:24 PM ET
By ESPN.com

Before the women's NCAA tournament opens Saturday, ESPN.com breaks down the four regionals. Check out the Berkeley, Oklahoma City and Raleigh analysis.

Graham Hays' upset watch

Virginia No. 5 Virginia vs. No. 12 Marist (ESPN2/ESPN360, 10 p.m. ET Saturday): Marist has become the brand name of NCAA tournament upsets, but this looks tough. Two years ago, Ohio State wasn't looking to get up and down, and that played into Marist's hands -- the Red Foxes could look for their own transition opportunities without having to contain bigger athletes in defensive transition. DePaul was a more up-tempo team last year but didn't have a profound athletic advantage. Virginia can push tempo, and there aren't many players in the ACC -- let alone the MAAC -- who can do what Monica Wright and Lyndra Littles do. The good news is Marist coach Brian Giorgis, one of the elite X's and O's guys, has five days to prepare for one of the most careless good teams in the country -- the Cavaliers commit 1.4 turnovers for every assist they register. Pick: Virginia

ASUNo. 6 Arizona State vs. No. 11 Georgia (ESPN2/ESPN360, noon ET Saturday): Arizona State had rolled off 15 consecutive wins until it lost leading scorer Dymond Simon to a season-ending injury in the final game of the regular season, lost the game and lost its opener at the Pac-10 tournament. So is it better to have had momentum and lost it (not to mention your star) or never to have had momentum at all, as was the case for Georgia? A good sign for the Sun Devils in the Pac-10 tourney, even in defeat, was Danielle Orsillo going for 17 points and seven rebounds. If she can handle some of Symon's scoring load, it's bad news for a Georgia team that is going to struggle to win if it gives up 65 points. Georgia's Ashley Houts and ASU's Briann January had almost the same number of assists (Houts led 147 to 144), but January had 40 fewer turnovers. Pick: Arizona State

Other games: Vermont might be the best No. 16 seed, while Evansville, with its losing record, has to be considered the worst No. 15 seed. But both are in for long days against UConn and Texas A&M, respectively. If there's a super sleeper to watch, it might be 14th-seeded North Carolina A&T against 3-seed Florida State (ESPN2/ESPN360, 2 p.m. ET Saturday). The Seminoles are a team that can play through some turnovers because they force a lot of their own, but things could get sloppy against an opportunistic foe.

Mechelle Voepel's breakdown

TempleFlorida (8) Florida vs. (9) Temple (ESPN/ESPNU/ESPN360, 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday): The Gators and Owls have been going in different directions over the past month. Florida has lost five of its past six games; Temple had won six in a row before falling to Charlotte in the semifinals of the Atlantic-10 tournament. (That event was hosted by Charlotte, by the way.) Interestingly enough, Charlotte is where Florida's Amanda Butler coached before she took over the Gators two years ago.

Butler, who is at her alma mater, and Temple's Tonya Cardoza, who played at Virginia, are two former Division I players who are ascending in coaching. It's Cardoza's first year at Temple after 14 seasons as a UConn assistant, and she will "go home" for the first round in Storrs, so the Huskies' fans will back Temple in this game.

Three stars

Walker
Walker
F Maya Moore, UConn: Looking for a sophomore coronation, just like her predecessor, Diana Taurasi.
G Monica Wright, Virginia: The sleek-shooting Cavalier is averaging 20.5 ppg and can take over games.
F Ashley Walker, Cal: At 19.3 ppg and 8.6 rpg, she's one of the most consistently productive posts in the nation.

Three under the radar
G/F Danielle Gant, Texas A&M: She has a high profile in Big 12 territory but others might not realize she's the central cog for the Aggies.
F Rachele Fitz, Marist: Kind of the opposite of Gant -- known on the East Coast, but not so much elsewhere. Fitz is averaging 20.6 ppg.
G Courtney Ward, Florida State: On a team with no stars, the point guard gets the ball evenly distributed. She's a big part of why the Seminoles shared the ACC regular-season title.

Charlie Creme's take

UConnWho's Hot: No. 1 seed Connecticut. It doesn't get much hotter than 33-0 and an average margin of victory of 31 points. The Huskies are just so much better than everyone else. They are getting so much attention for that success that their own coach is sick of hearing about it. Even if the UConn dominance turns the tournament uncompetitive, fans should just enjoy seeing Renee Montgomery play her final six games in a Huskies uniform.

Who's Not: No. 8 seed Florida. Once in the running for an SEC championship and at least a No. 3 seed, the Gators fell apart in the final month, losing five of their past six. Tumbling all the way to an 8-seed, Florida now has the pleasure of getting UConn in Round 2, if it can survive Temple's grind-it-out style. The collapse has happened on both ends of the floor.

Possible matchup to watch: Monica Wright vs. Alexis Gray-Lawson. The possible second-round meeting between Virginia and Cal would pit two of the best under-the-radar 2-guards in the country. Wright is a tremendous two-way player and Gray-Lawson can be explosive (see 37 points against Stanford). If she has her entire game working, Gray-Lawson could carry the Bears for a couple of rounds. Their slumping offense might need that. Wright should be a first-team preseason All-American next season.