Chat with Graham Hays
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com women's college basketball writer Graham Hays will be here to chat about the stretch run of the women's hoops season.
Hays contributes to ESPN.com's women's basketball, softball and soccer coverage. He began with ESPN in 1999.
Send your questions now and join Hays Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Graham Hays (4:01 PM)
If I'm reading through an explanation of the CAA tiebreaker rules, it must be March. Let's talk hoops.
Is everyone playing for runner-up in the national championship game?
Can we go ahead and make shirts that say "UCONN 2010 Nat'l Champs"?
Graham Hays (4:04 PM)
Well, that's sort of a depressing place to start. Yes, there's a good chance this March/April will end up being a little anticlimactic. Connecticut really is that good. But at the same time, the tournament is always fun, and the flip side of the Huskies' dominance is the thought of the chaos that would ensue in the bracket if the unthinkable happened.
Wondering what you think Rutgers' chances are at this point to actually go to the NCAA's (Coach Stringer's unfortunate remarks aside). I still think they get in if they win tonight, and 1 in the BET. (Well, maybe 2.)
Graham Hays (4:08 PM)
I'm a little more optimistic. Beat Louisville and I think Rutgers is in, regardless of what happens in the Big East tournament. Some of those early wins don't have quite the same luster they did in November/December, but the RPI still is what it is, and the Big East is still as good as any league this side of the Big 12 this season. But I believe Charlie Creme has them in but closer to the bubble than I might, so perhaps I'm in the minority. Of course, beating Louisville isn't a given, and that would put them in serious danger of having to turn down that WNIT invite.
Barry (College Park, Maryland)
Are the lady terps officially done? If not, what do they have to do to make the field?
Graham Hays (4:11 PM)
Get at least one significant win in the ACC tourney -- and I mean after beating UNC in the opening game. If they beat UNC and Duke back-to-back, even with the overall conference record, they put themselves in the mix to see how the bubble shakes out. But I don't think just beating UNC would be enough, not with a high 40's RPI and a losing conference record.
James (Nashville, TN)
Do you think Tennessee is the only team that can stop UCONN. Glory Johnson and Shekinna Sticklen seem long and athletic enough to handle Maya Moore, while Kelley Cain has been a monster both on the def. and off. ends- she seems like she could stop Tina Charles.
Graham Hays (4:14 PM)
It's the game a lot of people want to see, for obvious reasons, and I agree with you, James, that Tennessee is an intriguing matchup for reasons beyond the two coaches. It's a tough question because no team matches up WELL with UConn; you're just looking for areas where you might be able to gain a foothold. Tennessee fits that bill, Stanford still fits with its size and athleticism with Neka and Kayla. After seeing Baylor a couple of times last week, I still believe that's a team that, if it had a perfect night, could make things interesting (tougher if Melissa Jones isn't there).
Leonard (Fort Worth)
If TCU wins the Mountain West regular season outright, are they in no matter what happens in Vegas? How high of a seed do you think they can get?
Graham Hays (4:18 PM)
TCU looks like one of those teams from outside the BCS that should be safe no matter what happens in a conference tournament. Xavier obviously leads that pack, but I'd throw Hartford, TCU and Dayton in there. I think Gonzaga, Middle Tennessee State and Fresno State are also in that group, but I feel less comfortable saying it. If TCU wins out, they could easily be in that 7-8-9 range for a seed.
The ACC is the 2nd highest RPI conference...but there seems to be more bubble teams than not. What is their look going into the ACC Tourney?
Graham Hays (4:23 PM)
The top four all look safe, with Duke and FSU both in the mix for No. 2 seeds and Virginia and Georgia Tech somewhere in there. UNC keeps making it interesting, but even with the 2-5 mark down the stretch, the win against Duke may get the Heels in. If Maryland loses that ACC tourney game, the Terps are clearly done. If the Heels lose, I tend to think the door is still open for an at-large. After that, I guess NC State is the only other real factor; Wake's RPI just doesn't look strong enough to get it in the discussion. So I guess I'd say six teams in one way or another.
Assuming they are put on the opposite side of the bracket as UConn, how far can Xavier go in the tournament?
Graham Hays (4:26 PM)
I don't think anyone has to be too optimistic to say Xavier has a legitimate chance to play until it hits Connecticut, whether that's in San Antonio or something like a regional final in Dayton. They got pushed by a good Dayton team on the road, which might have been the best thing for a team that could have slipped into cruise control in the A-10. They match up physically with just about anyone.
Jay (Ankeny, Iowa)
Why does Iwa State seem to get the least respect of the Bi2 12 teams, If ISU goes into Stillwater and Beats Okie St they will have wins over Texas, Oklahoma, Okie St and Bayor, why are they slotted as the 4th Bi2 12 team, when right now they sit in Second in the conference, What am I missing?
Graham Hays (4:30 PM)
I'm with you, Jay, even if I'm also partially guilty -- although I don't think it's disrespect as much as simply overlooking them. We seem to look for malicious intentions too much. It would be nice to see Iowa State make another NCAA run, if only to give Alison Lacey some much-deserved national exposure. The main thing I worry about with the Cyclones is the lack of total road games, and the lack of big road wins within that total (Texas notwithstanding).
Jason (Canton, Ohio)
How good is Ohio St.? They seem to play well in conference but never seem to matchup well come tourney time. Lavender and Prahalis are a great 1-2 punch, but for some reason I'm not very confident. Tell me I'm wrong.
Graham Hays (4:36 PM)
I'm backtracking on Ohio State a bit, although this still looks like a team better suited to the postseason than some recent editions. Lavender is Lavender, which is nice to have, and Prahalis is probably the best point guard out there. The two things I look for out of the Buckeyes if they're going to get to the Sweet 16 or beyond is Prahalis has to keep knocking down 3's like she has all season, and they may need Tayler Hill to have a breakout March. She's got star potential, and if she can be a 12-13 ppg scorer, they're that much harder to defend. The problem is the track meets they can sometimes get away with in the Big Ten won't work after the second round in the NCAA.
What do you think the chances are of EDDelaware making the tournament? You gotta think that if anyone in the country can get them to the tournament its her.
Graham Hays (4:37 PM)
Delaware needs to win the CAA tournament, but sure, if you're going to ask anyone to get hot for a long weekend in a mid-major league, she's probably where you start. That has the potential to be a fantastic tourney.
Rich (UCONN NATION CT)
BTW, I have watched TN and NE both struggle with unranked teams...I do not think either one is capable of giving UCONN the matchup some would like to see.
Graham Hays (4:40 PM)
Ha, I wonder if that may be a slightly jaded, if understandable, perspective in Connecticut? Mortal teams occasionally struggle with teams they should beat by double digits, even if the Huskies don't. No team matches up with UConn in a seven-game series. All we're left with is trying to figure out which teams could make a game of it on a near-perfect night. I still think Tennessee and Nebraska are in that club.
What is the least James Madison can do to get an at-large bid? Does the committee recognize that a few of the games they should have won on paper, Dawn Evans was not in the lineup?
Graham Hays (4:44 PM)
I didn't get a chance to attend the mock bracket this year, so I'm probably not the best bet for the mechanics of the process, but it's my understanding that something like the Evans situation could be considered in the discussion. JMU wouldn't get credit for games it "should" have won with her, but her absence wouldn't be completely ignored. And because there are a number of candidates in the CAA, any team that doesn't make it to the final is putting itself in big-time danger, even if JMU may be the best positioned to sneak in with less.
Why does Charlie have Temple in with a 1-5 record against top 50 and not giving St. Bonaventure any consideration with a 21-8 record 3-4 record against top 50 and a 10 point road win against Temple?
Graham Hays (4:48 PM)
Can't speak for Charlie, but I'd also have the Bonnies on the outside looking in, even though it would be great to see Jim Crowley get that program all the way there.
Steve (UConn Nation in TX)
Hope all this ESPN.com special on The Streak does Not Jinx the UConn Huskies tonight against ND. Remember that No One thought Villanova could play The Perfect Game against Georgetown in the 1980s. But they did. Stanford, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Baylor all have legitimate shots in a One-and-Done tournament.
Graham Hays (4:49 PM)
Or the Miracle on Ice, which seems to be fresh in all our minds at the moment.
Liam (Norwood, Ma)
Providence is finally on the bubble. What do they have to do to get into the tourney?
Graham Hays (4:52 PM)
Another good program revival well worth mentioning. But I fear they would need the automatic bid. They've done a great job of beating teams they're fairly evenly matched with, but with the exception of the Hartford win very early, there's not a ton to hang a hat on for a team with a middling RPI.
What does WVU need to do to earn a 2 seed? Will anything less than making the finals of the Big East tournament get them there?
Graham Hays (4:56 PM)
Sure, I could see few scenarios where they get a No. 2 seed without reaching the BE final. They might need some help with someone like FSU losing early in the ACC or Xavier in the A-10. But it's easy to overstate the conference tourneys. West Virginia's regular-season resume merits a place in the discussion for the third or fourth No. 2 seed, and one weekend in Hartford shouldn't erase all of that.
Graham Hays (4:56 PM)
Someone with the chat name "notafanofwomenssports" is incensed I won't post their comments. Way to nurture that sense of entitlement.
Jon ((UConn nation in DC))
To Steve's comment. Any team can be beat, including this year's Uconn team. But Villanova played Georgetown in the regular season very well and many people overlooked that at the time. No team has come within single digits of Uconn. That is astounding!
who win,sthe uconn notre dame game tonight?
Graham Hays (4:59 PM)
Got to go with the Huskies, although it should be a full house in South Bend. The Irish are a solid all-around team; in terms of getting a good game tonight, I just wish there was at least one area where I felt like they were on even footing. They're well constructed to match up with teams that have flaws. This just isn't one of the those opponents.
Graham Hays (4:59 PM)
All right, time to head over to the arena. Thanks for all the questions!
Graham Hays (5:00 PM)
And one last plug, be sure to check out Rebecca Lobo's five questions with Tina Charles. On the women's basketball index.