Breaking down the Elite Eight
Updated: March 29, 2011, 9:59 PM ETESPN.com
Mechelle Voepel, Graham Hays and Charlie Creme take a game-by-game look at the regional final matchups on Monday and Tuesday.
DALLAS: (2) TEXAS A&M VS. (1) BAYLOR (ESPN, 9 ET TUESDAY)
|X factors||Who wins?|
|Graham Hays: It's a good rule of thumb in the NCAA tournament to pick the team that has the services of the best player on the court (see: Vandersloot, Courtney in the first three rounds). In the first three meetings between Baylor and Texas A&M, there was little doubt that Brittney Griner was the best player on the court, at the expense of Danielle Adams. And Griner seems to be taking her game to yet another level in the NCAA tournament. All the same, it seems as though the fourth meeting might just as easily come down to the battle between Sydney Colson and Odyssey Sims. The two point guards combined to hit 4 of 25 shots with eight turnovers in the Big 12 final.||
|Mechelle Voepel: Baylor and Texas A&M don't just know each other well from having played three times already this season. Many of the players are familiar foes/friends going all the way back to youth basketball days in the Lone Star State. And Texas A&M's Gary Blair and Baylor's Kim Mulkey go back to their days at Louisiana Tech, where Blair was an assistant coach and Mulkey a player for the 1982 team that won the first NCAA women's tournament. So there will be no secret strategies here. The Dallas Regional final pits two teams that know each other inside and out. Baylor has won all three meetings this season and both last season, too. But all were close this season -- two three-point wins and also a nine-point victory -- so what might make the difference in Texas A&M's favor this time? The play of senior Danielle Adams. She had 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting in the first meeting, nine points on 4-of-15 in the second, and 12 on 4-of-19 in the third. Adams had 23 points -- her average is 22.7 -- in A&M's 79-38 rout of Georgia in the regional semifinals Sunday. If she performs this time against Baylor as she has against most other foes, the Aggies have a great chance to win. But Baylor center Brittney Griner -- 40 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocked shots against Green Bay on Sunday -- could still be the deciding factor.||
|Charlie Creme: Is there a Baylor game in which Brittney Griner isn't an X factor? She averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds in the Lady Bears' previous three meetings with the Aggies, and her size seems to completely frustrate and nearly eliminate the Aggies' biggest weapon, Danielle Adams. Texas A&M's 6-foot-1 senior gets virtually nothing in the post against Griner. Adams shot a combined 12-of-50 (24 percent) in the three meetings. That's exactly why Griner is such an X factor. Teams have to change the way they always play simply because she's on the floor. Look how much different the end of the first half of the regional semifinals looked for Green Bay when Griner was on the bench. The Phoenix could suddenly run their complete offense and were competitive. Griner happened to play all 40 minutes in each meeting with the Aggies.||