When one looks at the four regional finals in the 2012 NCAA women's basketball tournament , the battle in the Fresno Region looks like it could be the closest of them all. The top-seeded Stanford Cardinals will face the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils for a chance to play the Baylor vs. Tennessee winner in the Final Four. Which team has the edge in this game and what are the keys to an upset for the Blue Devils?
The Cardinals have gone 34-1 this season, including 18-0 in the Pac-12. Their lone defeat came to the University of Connecticut in their fourth game of the season, which seemed to only make them want to win more.
As usual, the Cardinals have been led this season by the Ogwumike sisters. Nnemkadi leads the team in scoring and rebounding this season, averaging 22.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Her sister, Chiney leads the team in field goal percentage, completing more than 58 percent of her shots.
Joslyn Tinkle could be the key to the Cardinals advancing in the tournament. She is the best on the team in three-point and free-throw shooting. When Duke concentrates on the sisters too much, Tinkle could find herself open.
For the Blue Devils, this tournament has been filled with blowouts. They knocked Samford out in the first round by 35, Vanderbilt in the second round by 16 and St. John's by 27 in the Sweet 16. Much like how I feel that the lack of a challenge in the tournament will be a problem for Tennessee in their game against Baylor, I think this could be an issue for Duke.
Leading the Blue Devils in the tournament, much like they have in the regular season have been Elizabeth Williams, Chelsea Gray and Chloe Wells. Williams leads the team in most offensive categories, including scoring (14.0), rebounds (8.0), blocks (3.6) and three-point shooting percentage (50.0). Gray has been one of the top guards in the nation, averaging more than six assists per game and Wells has been a menace to opposing teams, averaging nearly four steals a game.
Keys to victory for Duke:
1 - Try to get in front Nnemkadi to force foul trouble. She is too talented to be stopped on the court, so this may be the best option for Duke.
2 - On offense, move the ball around in an attempt to find Williams open from long-range.
These two teams will tip-off on March 26, at 9:00 p.m. The game will be aired live on ESPN with both teams looking to keep their chances at winning a National Championship alive.
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