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NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament

First Look

March 18, 2004|Mike Terry

UCLA (17-12) AT MINNESOTA (21-8)


Site: Minneapolis.

Story line: Minnesota will be bolstered by the return of senior guard Lindsay Whalen, who had the cast removed Monday from her broken right (shooting) hand.

How they got here: Minnesota, a top-10 team before Whalen broke her hand, was sixth in the Big Ten and lost to Ohio State in the conference tournament quarterfinals. UCLA tied for third in the Pacific 10 and lost to Stanford in the conference tournament semifinals.

Common opponents: UCLA beat Ohio State, 71-56, and Illinois, 68-56; lost to Purdue, 58-57, and Michigan State, 47-43; and split with USC, losing, 64-51, and winning, 68-64. Minnesota beat USC, 84-61; beat Illinois twice, 74-59 and 63-54; lost to Michigan State, 72-69, and Purdue, 65-56; and lost twice to Ohio State, 75-57 and 76-62.

Styles of play: The Golden Gophers prefer a medium tempo and try to wear down teams with Whalen and center Janel McCarville. UCLA runs at every opportunity, depends on the perimeter play of Noelle Quinn, Nikki Blue and Lisa Willis, and will pressure all over the court.

X Factors: How sharp Whalen will be after a five-week layoff. The Bruins have struggled on the road (5-7).

What to expect: The Bruins will try to make it a fast game and get open shots before the Gophers can set their offense. Minnesota will try to control the inside with McCarville and make UCLA play defense for most of the 30-second shot clock.

-- Mike Terry

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