Your Baylor Lady Bears start their 2014 Women's NCAA Tournament march to a third national championship today against the 15th-seeded Western Kentucky Lady Toppers at the Ferrell Center at 5:30 p.m.
Baylor has only lost two games at home over their last four seasons. Both of those losses happen this season. In the regular season finale to West Virginia Mountaineers and to top-ranked UConn in January. When it comes to hosting NCAA Tournament games on their home floor, the Lady Bears are 5-1 at the Ferrell Center. The only loss came to 7th-seeded Drake Bulldogs.
Sims, the nation's second leading scorer at 28.4 points per game, wasn't even the most impressive player at the Big 12 Tournament, that was Nina Davis. The true freshman dominated very team and was just a monster on the boards. She asserted herself and continuously put her and the Lady Bears in good positions to make the best decisions. It was big to why Baylor won the conference title.
If and when the Lady Bears are to get pass the Hilltoppers, they'll have to do it without head coach Kim Mulkey. She was suspended a game for an incident in last year's loss to Louisville in the Sweet 16.
"I'm suspended, I don't regret being suspended. I'm going to fight for my team, and that's why I'm suspended," said Mulkey, strongly adding that she would prefer the focus remain on the game and her players instead of her absence.
It's not the first time Mulkey has missed a game while coaching the Lady Bears. She missed the first round game in 2009 having a kidney stone removed. Former Associate Head coach Leon Barmore coached the Lady Bears to an overtime victory over 15th-seeded Texas-San Antonio. Bill Brock will assume the duties today. He's been on Mulkey's staff off and on for 11 years.
While the Lady Bears have two National Championships to be proud of, their opponent's trophy case isn't exactly empty. Before the modern age of women's basketball came into play, the Western Kentucky Lady Toppers used to be a staple in the top 10 of the polls. They even made the Final Four three times in 1985, 1986 and 1992.
Their getting back to those roots. They're on a 10-game winning streak, led by former player, Michelle Clark-Heard, the Lady Toppers are making their 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. It's the first time in the big dance since 2007-08
Baylor and Western Kentucky have never met.
Chastity Gooch is the Sun Belt Player of the Year for the Lady Toppers. She leads WKU at 18.4 points per game and she shoots the three-ball at 43.5 percent, leading Western Kentucky, too. Then you'll have to watch for Alexis Govan. the junior from San Antonio is second in scoring at 16.5 ppg. Then, the Lady Toppers have freshman All-American nominee, Kendall Noble to bring up the ball. She's averaging 10.7 ppg. The Lady Toppers have five players averaging double figures.
Western Kentucky hasn't played a dynamite schedule, but they battled then 5th-ranked Louisville to a tough 74-61 loss. It was late in the second half when Louisville found a way to pull away. Western Kentucky also found themselves up on Vanderbilt earlier in the season, but couldn't hold a lead. So, they'll look to those as talking points in hoping to win in a historic upset.
If the Lady Bears play up to their potential, they should push the 37.5 line that has been set on this game. They have arguably one of the best players in the nation in Sims. Then you have one of the best freshman in Nina Davis. So, there is so many ways this Baylor team can hit you. It's just going to be way too much for Western Kentucky to handle.
You can follow @OKCChuck throughout the 2014 Women's Tournament as he'll travel throughout the regional and onto the Final Four.