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Are the Women Coming Around?

Are the Women Coming Around?

For Husker fans, #9 seed Nebraska plays #8 seed Temple tonight on ESPN2. I'll be watching. Will you?

Personally, I'd rather watch a women's college basketball game than the NBA. As I get older, my enjoyment of professional sports is dying and the NBA is at the top of the list as to why. I'll leave the reasons for my hatred of the NBA for another day.

Watching women's basketball, you get a flare for the game the way it should be. Five people playing on a team, playing as a team - something that seems foreign to some basketball fans.

Years past, the women's tourney has always looked like it did yesterday:

  • #2 seed Stanford crushing 15th-seed Idaho State by nearly 40 points
  • #5 seed Gonzaga destroying 12th seed Middle Tennessee by nearly 40 points
  • #6 Louisville smashing 11th seeded Brigham Young 80-54
  • #3 LSU steamrolling 14th seed NC-Asheville 77-39, nearly 40 points.

That's a typical year across the board in the women's tourney, leaving you wondering why they've bothered fielding 64 teams in past years. The answer isn't far away - anything that's done by the men has to be done by the women, even if the product they put out isn't worth watching. They'll do their damnedest to manipulate things so that it is, but what they really need is good basketball.

Fortunately, yesterday perhaps showed that parity in women's basketball is creeping, and the product may be worth watching as:

  • #13 seed Marist upset fourth-seeded Ohio State
  • #10 seed Florida State topped seventh seed Old Dominion
  • #11 seed West Virginia bounced #6 seed Xavier

Wow - upsets in the first round! This is why people love the men's tourney. If it happens more often, perhaps people will start watching women's basketball. There's a thought.

Unfortunately, there's still the politics that run the sport. I hate to agree with Tennessee coach Pat Summit (the Bobby Knight of women), but she's right on when she says:

"I thought Oklahoma was a No. 2 seed, I think Maryland's a No. 2 seed, I think Ohio State's a No. 3 seed," said Summitt. "That's my opinion, and it really doesn't matter. I can't imagine the other teams being very thrilled about it either. If I'm Ohio State, I'm like, a four seed? Oklahoma, a three seed? Both of those surprise me."

In other words, Oklahoma got screwed, Maryland got screwed, and Ohio State got screwed. Duke gets rewarded for having a lousy men's year by the Duke women getting the easiest route to the Final Four.

And that's the problem with the women's tourney. Year after year, the product they're putting out gets better, but the politics and bullshit that run the sport stay the same. The women's tourney would be better off leaving the manipulation at home and letting the tourney and sport mature to provide a product that everyone wants to watch.