Tennessee Lady Volunteers:
About the Lady Volunteers:
Pat Summit has turned the Lady Volunteers into one of the most storied college basketball programs in NCAA history. Summit, during her 36 years at the helm of the Tennessee program, has amassed over 1,000 wins and is the all-time wins leader among coaches - men and women - in college basketball history. The Lady Volunteers during this time span have managed to win eight national championships. And the Lady Vols seem well on their way to competing for a 9th national title this season. They have created an impressive RPI for themselves in non-conference by defeating opponents like Baylor, Texas, Rutgers, and Oklahoma with their lone loss of the season to Stanford. The Lady Volunteers continue to show why they are always among the nation's elite.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Vicki Baugh JR. (6'4) Knee(Out for the Season)
Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs:
About the Lady Bulldogs:
The Lady Bulldogs are off to a great start in the conference schedule, defeating Auburn and upsetting 17th ranked Vanderbilt Thursday. The most impressive part is that they have accomplished this without starting senior power forward Tysheka Grimes who is nursing an injured foot. Alexis Rack picked up the slack against Vanderbilt, not only scoring 31, but becoming more vocal on the court. The way things stand at the moment the Lady Bulldogs are in good shape to earn their second straight NCAA tournament berth.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Mississippi State - Senior guard Alexis Rack, who is 5'5, is the player to watch for the Lady Bulldogs although this game is a tough matchup for her due to Tennessee's guards both standing over 6'0. Rack had a great game in the upset of Vanderbilt, scoring 31 points, pulling down 6 rebounds, and dishing out 5 assist. The Lady Bulldogs will need another big day from Rack if they hope to defeat Tennessee for the first time in school history.
Tennessee - Shekimma Strickland is the player to watch for the Lady Volunteers as she is their best all around player, averaging 14 points, 4.2 assist, 6.6 rebounds and even connecting on 92 percent of her free throw attempts. Strickland plays the point guard spot but is not a traditional one-guard, standing 6'2 which makes her a matchup nightmare for the Lady Bulldogs. And I'm sure Coach Summit will look to take advantage of that during the game.
There is no reason to play around with this Tennessee team. Tennessee will be the toughest opponent the Lady Bulldogs will face all season. The Lady Volunteers possess great size with all their starters standing over 6'0, making the matchup even more difficult for the Lady Bulldogs. The first thing the Lady Bulldogs must not do, if they want to have a chance to win, is not get intimidated by the Lady Volunteers' size. Once they jump that first obstacle they must put pressure on the ball because the Lady Volunteers only have one true ball-handler in Briana Bass. And she only plays a little over 14 minutes a game. The Lady 'Dogs will need a good performance from an unsung player, possibly Ashley Jones or Channa Campbell because beating the Lady Volunteers will be a tall task, literally and figuratively. We will find out Sunday if they are up for the challenge of pulling the biggest upset in Mississippi State women's basketball history.
Jeremiah Short is a columnist who covers various Mississippi State sports for GenesPage.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org