FanHouse Terrific 12: The Short List
The teams with the best shot at the NCAA title are starting to separate themselves from the teams that wanted to think they had a shot just a few weeks ago.
Without completely recapping the Terrific 12 list, here's your NCAA short list.
Baylor. Only a one-point loss to Connecticut in November stands between the Bears and an unbeaten record. Baylor is more than Brittney Griner. Odyssey Sims is looking a lot like the national freshman of the year. She is fearless. Melissa Jones provides senior steadiness. Brooklyn Pope has given Baylor a second option inside, making it more difficult to collapse on Griner. Kim Mulkey's team has all the pieces.
Connecticut. The Huskies are, well, the Huskies. They've beaten Baylor and Duke and North Carolina and Oklahoma and Notre Dame. And senior Maya Moore will want to finish her career with a third straight title. But Connecticut is not a deep team. And that is the biggest question mark heading toward tournament play. Will depth matter in the conference tournament? Will it be a factor the closer Connecticut gets to Indianapolis? Expect to see the Huskies in the Final Four. Expect a title? That is the biggest question of all.
Stanford. The Cardinal are deep, big, healthy and have run through the Pac-10 like a hot knife through butter. The team that was able to knock off Connecticut looks capable of knocking off pretty much anybody else if Jeanette Pohlen hits shots, Kayla Pedersen showcases her versatility and the Ogwumike sisters clean the glass like they've been doing.
Tennessee. The Lady Vols have changed lineups as Pat Summitt still looks for the combinations that work. They all seem to work. Angie Bjorklund's injury slows the train a bit, but Tennessee is experienced and hungry and has an infusion of youthful enthusiasm from Meighan Simmons
Duke. The Blue Devils have defended their way into a lot of wins this year and one bad week -- back to back losses to Connecticut and North Carolina -- shouldn't define an otherwise outstanding season. But the margin of Connecticut's victory last month has to give one pause about the Blue Devils' ability to score enough to keep up with the best teams in nation.
FanHouse's Terrific 12 Teams
1. Baylor (24-1, 11-0). After getting past Texas A&M for a second time, the Bears, who have won 21 in a row, are well on the way to the Big 12 Title.
2. Connecticut (25-1, 12-0). After playing a final non-conference game against Oklahoma Monday, the Huskies have a tough week with No. 7 Notre Dame on Saturday and next week's game at Georgetown.
3. Stanford (22-2, 13-0). The Cardinal head out on a tough LA trip with a 50-game winning streak against Pac-10 foes.
4. Tennessee (24-2, 12-0). Fifteen straight wins for the Vols, who are doing it now without senior Angie Bjorklund (foot injury) on the floor.
5. Texas A&M (21-3, 9-2). A&M has a chance to get well after Baylor loss with two straight home games against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
6. Duke (23-2). Allison Vernerey a strong addition to the lineup for the Blue Devils.
7. Notre Dame (22-4, 11-1). The Irish have won 17 of 18, the last loss to Connecticut. Rematch coming this weekend.
8. Xavier (21-2, 10-0). The Musketeers will cruise until Feb. 27 matchup with Temple.
9. UCLA (21-2, 11-1). The Bruins have a chance to pull into a tie for first in the Pac-10 in rematch with Stanford.
10. DePaul (23-3). The Blue Demons have four wins over ranked teams this season after being Marquette.
11. Michigan State (22-3). The Spartans are in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten after beating second-place Penn State and Michigan.
12. Miami (22-3). The Hurricanes break in here after beating both Maryland and North Carolina last weekend. It was the first time in program history that Miami defeated ranked teams in back-to-back games.
Terrific 12 Players
Maya Moore, Connecticut. The Huskies star scored 27 points Monday night against Oklahoma to become the Big East's all-time leading scorer.
Tyra White, Texas A&M. White had 29 points in Monday night's loss to Baylor, keeping the Aggies in the game to the end.
Brittney Griner, Baylor. After scoring just three points by halftime against Texas A&M, Griner came up big with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Ify Ibekwe, Arizona. The Wildcats' senior had a huge day in the rivalry game with Arizona State, finishing with 22 points and 22 rebounds.
Michelle Plouffe, Utah. The Utes' freshman has scored at least 20 points in three of Utah's last four games.
Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford. The Cardinal freshman forward scored a career-best 21 points in Saturday's closer-than-expected win over Washington.
Ataira Franklin, Virginia. Franklin, another freshman, had a big day in the Cavaliers' quadruple overtime win over North Carolina State, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Elena DelleDonne, Delaware. The super sophomore forward put up 33 points in an overtime win over William & Mary on Sunday.
Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee. Rowe averaged a double-double in leading the Blue Raiders to two wins. She averaged 21.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in victories over Western Kentucky and Florida International, wins that led MT to the East Division title.
Lauren Prochaska, Bowling Green. Prochaska, the senior guard/forward who is Bowling Green's scoring leader, scored 37 of her team's 60 points in a win over Eastern Michigan.
Jaleesa Ross, Fresno State. The Bulldogs' all-time leading scorer had a career-high eight 3-pointers and finished with 32 points in a win over Boise State.
Chelsie Wiley, Central Florida. Wiley, a senior, scored a season-high 26 points in a down-to-the-wire win over UTEP.
Terrific 12 Games
Thursday, Kentucky at Georgia. The second and third-place teams in the SEC do battle.
Thursday, Duke at Maryland. Duke has held eight opponents to season-low scores this season, and Maryland is looking for a rebound after two straight losses.
Thursday, Penn State at Ohio State. Are the Buckeyes going to be a big factor in the stretch run?
Friday, Manhattan at Marist. Can Marist remain unbeaten in conference play?
Saturday, Texas at Oklahoma. The Longhorns need a big win and some momentum.
Saturday, TCU at BYU. The Cougars are 10-1 at home this season, 6-0 in conference play.
Saturday, Notre Dame at Connecticut. The Irish's next chance to end the Huskies' unbeaten run in conference play.
Saturday, Idaho State at Montana State. Two teams with 30 wins between them.
Sunday, Stanford at UCLA. The Cardinal haven't always played well at Pauley.
Sunday, Maryland vs. Florida State. The second game in a tough week for the Terrapins.
Sunday, DePaul at Georgetown. Two more ranked Big East teams doing battle.
Monday, Georgia at Tennessee. Can the Bulldogs end the Vols' unbeaten run in the SEC?