How often does it actually happen that seeding works out?
They certainly didn't hold in Saturday's Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament semifinals as the the two top seeds were shown the door. First to fall was three-time defending tournament champion No. 14/16 Ohio State. The Buckeyes (25-6) entered the tournament with the No. 2- seed thanks to the tiebreaker that pushed them ahead of Purdue, Iowa and Michigan State, all tied with Ohio State with 11-5 records in Big Ten play. They ended their Big Ten season Friday on the wrong end of a 77-62 semifinal decision with Nebraska.
After a crazy quarterfinals that saw the top two seeds knocked out of the tournament, things got back to normal during a fairly dull semifinal round in the ACC women's tournament. Higher seeds Georgia Tech and Maryland won their games without too much trouble, setting up a third meeting for these teams. Can the Terps pull off a three game sweep?
Semifinal One: (4) Georgia Tech 87, (9) NC State 61
In the most thrilling and unexpected set of quarterfinals games in ACC tournament memory, the top two seeds lost in the quarterfinals for the first time ever. This was also the first time the No. 1 seed has ever lost to a seed ranked 8 or lower.
It will also be the first time that both Duke and North Carolina have missed the conference semifinals since 1991. And It will be the first appearance by Wake Forest in the semifinals since 1988. The day had thrilling finishes, bizarre calls, inspired comebacks and fairly strong attendance.
On Saturday, the Mid-American Conference will join the 11 other midmajor conferences scattered across the country whose 2012 women's basketball championship tournaments are currently underway. In addition to bragging rights, the winner of each of these tournaments earns an automatic invitation to participate in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. For the also-rans, the tournaments represent a final chance to improve their résumés in hopes of impressing the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee enough to win one of the 33 available at-large bids.
With the exception of North Carolina State's thrilling comeback win over Florida State, things went according to chalk on the first day of the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament on Thursday, Mar. 2. However, the opening day's events did set up what has the potential to be a fascinating quarterfinal round of games.
While most of the nation's eyes have been glued to the major-league powerhouses of women's college basketball -- the Baylors, Notre Dames, Connecticuts, Stanfords and Tennessees -- some fiercely competitive games featuring some of the nation's top female athletes have been going on, mostly under the radar. Indeed, the talent pool in the non-BCS conferences runs so deep this year that it is hard to refer to some of these programs as "midmajors" anymore.
Last week, seven more teams -- three of them in the BIG East (West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers), two from the Big Ten (Purdue and Nebraska), one from the PAC-12 (Califronia) and one from the West Coast Conference (Gonzaga) -- made the move from bubble teams to to locks for an at-large invitation to the NCAA tournament by taking care of business in the final weeks of their conference regular seasons.
As the ACC Women's Basketball tournament kicks off in Greensboro, Nor. Car., this Thursday, there's a lot at stake for all concerned. In a year where highly unbalanced schedules played a role in the final standings, No. 6/5 Maryland finished at 12-4 in ACC play (25-4 overall), in a dead heat with No. 15/18 Georgia Tech (22-7, 12-4) for third place in the regular-season conference race. The possibility of a different outcome come Sunday afternoon when the league's tournament championship is determined beckons both teams.