Friday, March 16, 2012

The NCAA Tournament and the Virginia connection for all 64 teams

The little-known fact about the NCAA Tournament, which begins Saturday, is that all 64 teams have some connection to the state of Virginia. (Fitting, isn't it, that we have Interstate 64 here, too!) We ran down each of the 64 connections for you. Enjoy and enjoy the games this weekend.

Go Liberty! Go Hampton!

Des Moines Region

Stroh Center, Bowling Green, Ohio (Bowling Green)

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 UCSB, Sunday, 2:30 p.m.: That 6-8 center that 6-8 Brittney Griner is often compared to is none other than ODU's Anne Donovan. ... You'll see below that Georgetown has a Sugar who hails from Virginia. Seems like her long lost sis must be "Sweets" Underwood from UCSB.

No. 8 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Florida, Sunday, 12:15 p.m.: Buckeyes freshman Amy Scullion went to Salem High School. Granted, it was not Salem High in Virginia Beach, but details, details. ... Florida center Azania Stewart, a native of England, attended Notre Dame Academy - now Middleburg Academy - in Middleburg and has teamed with Old Dominion's Scotland-born Mairi Buchan on national teams for Great Britain.

Carmichael Arena, Chapel Hill, N.C. (North Carolina)

No. 5 Georgetown vs. No. 12 Fresno State, Sunday, 12:20 p.m.: Sugar, Sugar. Nope not the Archies song. Hoyas junior Sugar Rodgers hails from Suffolk, Va. ... One of the four teams playing this weekend at the Constant Center heads to Fresno for the regional.

No. 4 Georgia Tech vs. No. 13 Sacred Heart, Sunday, 2:30 p.m.: Georgia Tech's 24 victories this season include a 10-point win over Virginia, a 10-point victory over Virginia Tech and a 31-point rout of Old Dominion... ... Pioneers sophomore Blair Koniszewski is from Vienna, Va.

 Jack Stephens Arena, Little Rock, Ark. (UALR)

Cindy Fisher
No. 6 Nebraska vs. No. 11 Kansas, Sunday, 7:30 p.m.: Former ODU assistant Cindy Fisher was assistant coach at Nebraska for two seasons. ... Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson led Virginia Tech to a 152-68 record and seven postseason appearances from 1997-2004.

No. 3 Delaware vs. No. 11 Arkansas-Little Rock (UALR), Sunday, 5:20 p.m.: The Blue Hens are 8-0 versus Virginia schools this year. ... UALR senior Britteni Williams went to James Madison High, albeit in Houston.

Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill. (DePaul)

No. 7 DePaul vs. No. 10 BYU, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: DePaul coach Doug Bruno is a former WBCA president. Former ODU coach Wendy Larry was also a WBCA president. ... The father and two brothers of former Briar Woods High star Kim Bell all played football at BYU, and her mother and a sister played basketball for the Cougars. Bell herself currently plays at Utah Valley.

No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Tennessee-Martin, Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Norfolk is old home for the Lady Vols, who have played there 26 times, 19 times in the regular season and seven times in the NCAA Tournament, including the 1982 Final Four and in 2006 when Candace Parker dunked twice against Army ... Tennessee-Martin is the alma mater of Pat Summitt, who went into labor midway through a flight back from a recruiting trip to Pennsylvania but refused to have her baby (Tyler) in the state of Virginia and ordered the pilot to continue on to Tennessee. Tyler was born in Knoxville.

Fresno Region

Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, Va. (Old Dominion)

No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 16 Hampton, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: Last time the Cardinal played in a first-round NCAA Tournament game in Norfolk, they lost to Maine at the ODU field house. ... Hampton? No need to state the obvious about the three-time MEAC champs.

No. 8 West Virginia vs. No. 9 Texas, Saturday, 11:10 a.m.: Mountaineers Linda Stepney and Crystal Leary hail from Norfolk, Va., and grew up playing ball together about five minutes away from the Constant Center. ... The last time Texas coach Gal Goestenkors was at the Constant Center, she was coaching Duke in 2004. Her Blue Devils were denied a Final Four bid by Minnesota in the Elite Eight.

Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Ind. (Purdue)

No. 5 South Carolina vs. No. 12 Eastern Michigan, Saturday, 11:05 a.m.: Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley is among the most heralded players in University of Virginia history. ... We doubt Eagles assistant coach Liberty del Rosario was named for the school in Lynchburg, but just the same, it's a connection. Another: del Rosario was an assistant at Morgan State, which is in the MEAC, home to Norfolk State and Hampton, which plays in the Constant Center this weekend.

No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 13 San Diego State, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: Blog writer Vicki L. Friedman, who lives in Virginia now, went to Purdue her freshman year (1984-85) ... Former ODU assistant Cindy Fisher coaches at the University of San Diego, which is near San Diego State. This is the second reference to Fisher in this all-Virginia post.

Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla. (Oklahoma)

No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Michigan, Sunday, 7:30 p.m.: Sooners coach Sherri Coale writes a wonderful blog on the team's website. LadySwish is a wonderful blog. .... Michigan played in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas this year, as did ODU (opposite brackets, but again, details, details).

No. 3 St. John's vs. No. 14 Creighton, Sunday, 5:05 p.m. ... St. John's freshman Mallory Jones, who chose the Red Storm over, among others, James Madison, starred at Blacksburg High before transferring to Oak Hill Academy ... Assistant Jenny Vickers resides in Omaha, where Norfolk State and Virginia will be playing in the other NCAA Tournament. A second, the UFL's Virginia Destroyers opened their inaugural season in Nebraska in a stadium across the street from Creighton.

Memorial Gymnasium, Nashville, Tenn. (Vanderbilt)

No. 7 Vanderbilt vs. No. 10 Middle Tennessee State, Sunday, 5:10 p.m.: Liberty played in the Thanksgiving tournament in Vandy's gym. ... Middle Tennessee, lower RPI and strength of schedule than James Madison, lost to the Dukes in December.

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Samford, Sunday, 7:30 p.m.: Duke's freshman Elizabeth Williams is from Virginia Beach. ... Samson senior forward J'Quita Babineaux is from Springfield, Va., and Robert E. Lee High School.

Raleigh Region

Joyce Center, South Bend, Ind. (Notre Dame)

No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 16 Liberty, Sunday, 2:30 p.m.
VCU coach Beth Cunningham has Irish in her blood, having been an All-American at Notre Dame in the late '90s. ... Liberty? Well, there's the whole Lynchburg thing....

No. 8 Cal vs. No. 9 Iowa, Sunday, 12:10 p.m.: Where was Virginia coach Joanne Boyle before Charlottesville? Cal. ... Iowa freshman Virginia Johnson averages 1.7 ppg.

Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Fla. (Florida State)

No. 5 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast, Sunday, 2:30 p.m.: The Bonnies are 2-0 versus Virginia teams with wins over Norfolk State and Richmond. ... This is our favorite connection. Florida Gulf Coast links to LadySwish on the front of its women's basketball website. Go Eagles!!!!!

No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 13 Marist, Sunday, 12:05 p.m.: Georgia Director of Operations La'Keshia Frett-Meredith played high school ball at Phoebus. ... ODU sports information director Kim Zivkovich was a former sports info director at Marist.

 Reed Arena, College Park, Texas (Texas A&M)

No. 6 Arkansas vs. No. 11 Dayton, Saturday, 4:05 p.m.: Arkansas beat SIU-Edwardsville. SIU-Edwardsville is coached by former Lady Monarch Amanda Levens. ... Former ODU men's coach Oliver Purnell was head coach at Dayton and was an ODU classmate of Monarchs sports info director Carol Hudson,

No. 3 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Albany, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: Aggies associate head coach Vic Schaefer was an assistant at UT-Arlington. Arlington is a city in Northern Virginia. ... Albany's nickname is the Great Danes. Delaware's Elena Delle Donne had a Great Dane until she realized apartment life wasn't fair for him. Delle Donne has played in Virginia 14 times.

Comcast Center, College Park, Md. (Maryland)

No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 Michigan State, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: Louisville freshman Bria Smith, a McDonald's All-American who started every game for the Cardinals, initially signed with Virginia but requested and was granted a release after former coach Debbie Ryan stepped down ...The Spartans (whose nickname is the same as Norfolk State's) have a player named Jasmine Thomas (whose name is the same as Jasmine Thomas of Fairfax, Va., who played for Duke and is now on the Washington Mystics).

No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 15 Navy, Saturday, 11:15 a.m.: Terps senior Kim Rodgers is from Virginia Beach. ... Navy? Well, Hampton Roads has the biggest military contingent in the nation.

Kingston Region

Arena at Harbor Yard, Bridgeport, Conn. (Fairfield)

No. 1 UConn vs. No. 16 Prairie View, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: The Huskies won the subregional in Norfolk in 2010. ...UNC Wilmington coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, whose team plays in the Virginia-based CAA, formerly coached at Prairie View.

No. 8 Kansas State vs. No. 9 Princeton, Saturday, 11:20 a.m.: Kansas State assistant Shalee Lehning was a finalist for the Lieberman Award. We all know where Lieberman played. ... Tigers sophomore Alex Rodgers went to high school at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.

Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, La. (LSU)

No. 5 LSU vs. No. 12 San Diego State, Sunday, 7:30 p.m. LSU coach and new mother Nikki Caldwell, who helped Tennessee nip Virginia in the 1991 NCAA national title game, was a Cavaliers assistant from 1999-2002 and was in serious play for Virginia's head job last spring before she accepted LSU's offer ... Cindy Fisher is head coach at the University of San Diego, which is close to San Diego State. This is the third mention of Fisher in this post.

No. 4 Penn State vs. No. 13 UTEP, Sunday, 5:15 p.m.: Penn State junior forward Mia Nickson (7.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) was born in Germany but grew up in Ashburn ...UTEP has a senior guard named Whitney Houston. Singer Whitney Houston performed at Naval Station, Norfolk in March 1991.

 McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, Wash. (Gonzaga)

No. 6 Rutgers vs. No. 11 Gonzaga, Saturday, 4:15 p.m.: Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was the coach of Cheyney State when the Wolves reached the Final Four in 1982 played at the Norfolk Scope. ... Only two players have 2,000 career points and 1,000 career assists. That would be ODU coach Karen Barefoot and former Gonzaga sensation Courtney Vandersloot.

No. 3 Miami vs. No. 14 Idaho State, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: Hurricanes junior Chanel Williams is from Chesapeake ((Indian River High), Va. ... Virginia football, which had never played a team in Idaho before, beat Idaho 21-20 (dubious connection, we know).

Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa (Iowa State)

No. 7 Green Bay vs. No. 10 Iowa State, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: Just like Hampton got jobbed with a 16 seed, so did Green Bay, a 7 seed. ... Iowa State won its only meeting with Virginia, spanking the Cavaliers 66-48 in the 2010 Paradise Jam.

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 McNeese State, Saturday, 4:20 p.m.: Hampton nearly upset Kentucky a year ago in the NCAA Tournament, losing in OT. ... McNeese State's last trip to Virginia wasn't a pleasant one - on Dec. 10, 2010, the Cowboys fell 75-70 at Norfolk State.

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