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NCAA: Devils Knock Off Mississippi St, 64-56
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2015 NCAA Preview - Spokane Regional
By Rob Clough
March 27, 2015

Duke vs. Maryland, Gonzaga vs. Tennessee

2015 NCAA Tournament First Round Preview - Spokane, WA

#4 Duke (23-10, 11-5 ACC, Final RPI Rating #15) vs #1 Maryland (32-2, 18-0 Big Ten, Final RPI Rating #6)

Brenda Frese
Brenda Frese and Maryland have moved on into the Big Ten, where they ran the table for their first conference title since taking the ACC crown in 2012 (pictured above).
DWHoops Photo by Orin Day

Laurin Mincy continues to be a star for Maryland, one of four Terps averaging double figure scoring.
DWHoops Photo by Orin Day
When: Saturday, March 28th, 7:30 PM
Where: Spokane Arena, Spokane, WA

Last Meeting: 2/17/2014: Duke Dismisses Maryland, 84-63

Key Players: . Point guard Lexie Brown (14 ppg, 3 rpg, 5 apg, 2 spg, 34% 3FG), wing Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (13 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 apg), guard Laurin Mincy (13 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg, 35% 3FG), center Brionna Jones (12 ppg, 9 rpg), stretch four Malina Howard (6 ppg, 5 rpg), guard Brene Moseley (6 ppg, 41% 3FG), forward Tierney Pfirman (5 ppg, 4 rpg), guard Kristen Confroy (4 ppg), forward Kiara Leslie (4 ppg, 3 rpg)

The Skinny: In their first year in the Big 10 after fleeing the ACC, the Terps made themselves at home and ran the table in a pretty good conference. This was all the more remarkable considering that they lost one of their best-ever players in Alyssa Thomas. The young players she left behind stepped up, especially sophomores Brown, Jones and Walker-Kimbrough. Getting Mincy back fully healthy has also been a huge boost for the team, as this fifth-year senior has provided both scoring and experience. The Terps have size, shooting, rim attackers, rim protectors and excellent chemistry.

The Matchup:

Maryland has size with the 6-4 Howard, 6-3 (and massive) Jones and 6-2 Pfirman. They will need that size against Duke's frontline, especially the versatility of Azura' Stevens. Maryland is not a pressure defense team, nor do they play a lot of junk defenses. They play man-to-man and depend on their size and rebounding to get stops and extra possessions. This is a team better known for its offense (80 ppg) than its defense (60 ppg). Their scoring balance is excellent, and while they don't have great shooters, they get enough out of them to make sure that the sturdy Jones gets plenty of touches and the aggressive Walker-Kimbrough gets to attack the basket. The true catalysts for the team are Mincy and Brown, who make and take big shots. This isn't actually a bad matchup for Duke; Maryland has depth but not as much as Mississippi State. They can shoot but their shooters are streaky. Maryland has size but not as much as Duke. These are two teams that are extremely familiar with each other, teams that battled tooth and claw for a number of years. That rivalry will fuel this game beyond simply the desire to make it to the Elite Eight and could make it a very close game. Tempo will be important in this game, as Duke would prefer a game in the 60s and the Terps would like to score in the 80s. Once again, Duke will need a contribution from someone outside their "big three" of Williams, Greenwell and Stevens to provide some offense. While Duke will need to limit turnovers and Maryland will need to make perimeter shots, the game will come down to who wins the rebounding battle. Both teams depend on rebounding to offset their flaws, and Duke has not fared well in games where they've lost that battle.

Game Two: #11 Gonzaga vs #2 Tennessee
When: Saturday, March 28th, 9:30 PM
Where: Spokane Arena, Spokane WA

#11 Gonzaga

Record: 26-7, 16-2 WCC, Final RPI Rating #39

Key Players: 6-4 post Sunny Greinacher (14 ppg, 6 rpg), wing Keani Albanez (13 ppg, 3 rpg, 34% 3FG), wing Elle Tinkle (12 ppg, 6 rpg, 40% 3FG), 6-5 center Emma Wolfram (7 ppg, 4 rpg), lead guard Georgia Stirton (6 ppg, 3 apg, 38% 3FG), wing Lindsay Sherbert (6 ppg, 3 rpg, 40% 3FG), wing Shaniqua Nilles (5 ppg, 3 rpg), guard Emma Stach (4 ppg, 35% 3FG).

The Skinny: Gonzaga, under the leadership of Lisa Mispley Fortier after the departure of longtime leader Kelly Graves, is a team composed of freshmen, transfers, international players and other spare parts. A perennially strong program, they suffered several early losses before putting things together in league play. A WCC tourney loss to BYU didn't keep them out of the tournament, thanks to their strong RPI - their tradition of playing "anyone, anywhere" under Graves has continued. This is a huge team with considerable depth, and it's one where nearly everyone can and does shoot the three. Interestingly, the team's five leading scorers also have blocked at least twenty shots apiece this season. Six players have hoisted at least fifty three point attempts this year. Gonzaga makes an eye-popping 16 free throws a game, shooting an amazing 77% as a team. Gonzaga is not a great defensive team despite its shotblocking. The don't force a lot of turnovers and allow 61 ppg. For such a huge team, they're only +6 on the year on the boards per game.

The Matchup: Gonzaga has a significant size advantage over Tennessee. Neither team is super physical, but the the Lady Vols are more used to playing that style of basketball thanks to the SEC. Both teams will shoot the three and both will try to clog up the paint. For Gonzaga to win, they have to control tempo. They are not nearly as quick as Tennessee and won't want to try to run up and down the floor with them. If they limit turnovers and stretch out possessions while getting good shots, then they will have an excellent chance to win.

#2 Tennessee

Record: 29-5, 15-1 SEC, Final RPI Rating #2

Key Players: Point guard Ariel Massengale (11 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg, 37% 3FG), forward Cierra Burdick (11 ppg, 7 rpg, 41% 3FG), post Bashaara Graves (11 ppg, 7 rpg), guard Andraya Carter (8 ppg, 3 rpg, 36% 3FG), guard Jordan Reynolds (7 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg), wing Jamie Nared (5 ppg, 3 rpg), center Nia Moore (5 ppg, 3 rpg), guard Alexa Middleton (4 ppg)

The Skinny: The Lady Vols have soldiered on despite injuries to Mercedes Russell, Isabelle Harrison and Jasmine Jones. The injury to Harrison was a real killer, as she was the team's best player and primary post presence. However, bigs Burdick and Graves have stepped in ably, while lead guard Massengale has also been tough. This is a team built on guard play, defense and solid overall shooting. This isn't the physical bully we're used to seeing out of Knoxville; they're much more likely to beat you with finesse, passing and smart play than simply getting the ball on the rim and crashing the boards.

The Matchup: Tennessee has a serious size disparity against the Zags, which could hurt them when they try to attack the basket. This is a game where Massengale will be especially important, because she has to attack the defense intelligently, push tempo whenever possible, and keep the bigger Zags off-balance as much as possible. She who controls the boards will control tempo, and I can see Tennessee springing a number of runouts, especially after missed threes by the Zags. Each team will have to overcome advantages from the other squad, but the winner will be the team that turns rebounds into points.

DWHoops will provide full recaps of Duke's action in Spokane. Follow our photo coverage of the Greensboro Regional at ACC Women's Basketball Digest and FullCourt.com.

NCAA: Devils Knock Off Mississippi St, 64-56
Member Photos
NCAA: Maryland Knocks Out Duke, 65-55
The Nutshell

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