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WBB NCAA Final Four: Baylor vs. Stanford Pre-Game

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March 31, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Kim Mulkey watches her team practice the day before the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA women's basketball Final Four at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
March 31, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Kim Mulkey watches her team practice the day before the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA women's basketball Final Four at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

I have a sincere apology to deliver for my failure to provide any content to the board for over 24 hours. I typed up a complete preview for today's game and scheduled it to post this morning before I left the hotel in Edmond to drive home, but SBNation's platform not only didn't post it, it swallowed the post entirely. I've never had that happen before. I don't have the time or the inclination to try to recreate everything I did in that post, but I've found everything else I can about tonight's game, which tips off at 8:00 PM CST on ESPN. I'll also give you an abridged version of my 5 Keys of the Game for the Lady Bears.

  1. Keep Griner out of foul trouble-- Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike are possibly the best frontcourt combo in all of women's college basketball, and both can score almost at will if they get the ball where they want it in the paint. Baylor is going to lean on the defense of Brittney Griner and Destiny Williams to keep those two girls in check, and it is absolutely imperative that Griner not get in early (or late, really) foul trouble against the Sisters Ogwumike.
  2. Don't settle for threes-- Baylor managed to beat the pants off of Tennessee in the Elite 8 with the 3-ball, but that's not how this team wins games. Baylor can't get lulled into trying to simply out-shoot Stanford tonight and has to take the ball into the paint.
  3. Win the battle on the boards-- This one is more about Chiney Ogwumike than her sister, though they average exactly the same number of rebounds on the season. If Griner is active on defense as she should be and gets the share of blocked shots everyone expects, Baylor cannot allow Stanford to nullify those blocks by collecting their own misses and still scoring points. On the other end, Baylor can't allow themselves to be beaten to rebounds, particularly when Griner is out of the game.
  4. Win the turnover margin-- As SwishAppeal's Nate Parham noted this week, Baylor's biggest weakness is arguably a narrow turnover margin against teams with athletic guards. Stanford, who isn't known for their backcourt play, has one such guard in Amber Orrange.
  5. Keep your composure-- That means DON'T LEAVE THE BENCH IF SOMETHING HAPPENS. I'm looking at you, Brittney!

If, for whatever reason, you don't want to watch the Lady Bears tonight, you can watch two of our 2012 basketball recruits play on ESPNU starting at 8 PM CST. The All-American Championships, basically the tournament counterpart to the McDonald's All-American Game, took place this afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, and ESPNU is showing a rebroadcast of the games. Unlike the McDAAG where only two teams play, the AACs feature four teams of recruits. L.J. Rose, Baylor's PG signee from Westbury Christian in Houston, Texas and #74 on ESPN's Top100, played for the West team against the East, and Ricardo Gathers, a PF from Riverside Academy in Laplace, Louisiana and #35 on ESPN's Top100, played for the South against the North.

Head below the jump for links about tonight's game pitting the Lady Bears against the Stanford Cardinal.

Women's Hoops Battles Stanford in Final Four Tilt - Baylor Bears Official Athletic Site - BaylorBears.com
Top-ranked Baylor will look to continue its winning ways as the Lady Bears take on the Stanford Cardinal, April 1, in Denver, Colo., in the Final Four round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. Tip time is slated for 8 p.m. CT.

WBB's Griner and Mulkey Receive AP's Top Honor - Baylor Bears Official Athletic Site - BaylorBears.com
Baylor made it a clean sweep in this season's The Associated Press' women's college basketball Player of the Year and Coach of the Year when Brittney Griner and Kim Mulkey were the award's recipient

2012 NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four Preview: Baylor Vs. Stanford - Swish Appeal
The Baylor Lady Bears are the favorites to win the 2012 NCAA women's basketball championship for good reason, but if anyone could design a game plan to disrupt their quest for 40 wins it's Stanford Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer.

WNBA.com: Final Four Preview: Baylor-Stanford
Baylor and Stanford have played a combined 74 games this season. They've won 73 of them -- the only loss coming back on Nov. 21 when Stanford lost to Connecticut. That, in no uncertain terms, is the definition of dominance. That's also why this matchup is sure to be one of the best of the year. Brittney Griner and Baylor are two wins away from making history by completing the first-ever 40-0 season, but Nneka Ogwumike and Stanford, in its fifth straight Final Four, are capable of beating any team in the country on any given night. Griner and Ogwumike, the only two players selected as unanimous members of the Associated Press All-America First Team, will steal the headlines, but there will be talent all over the court when these powerhouses clash on Sunday. Find out what Stanford alum Candice Wiggins and Baylor alum Sophia Young think about this marquee matchup.

2012 NCAA tournament -- Nneka Ogwumike returns with Stanford to Final Four - ESPN
Nneka Ogwumike is back in the Final Four for the fourth time in her career. Stanford's run of five straight national semifinal appearances matches Connecticut and LSU in women's Division I history.

WOMEN'S FINAL FOUR: Baylor going for a perfect season - latimes.com
First, the unbeaten Bears, led by Brittney Griner, must get past Stanford. Notre Dame faces Connecticut in the other semifinal.

Stanford eager for Baylor's big challenge - College Women's Basketball - Rivals.com
The Cardinal's Nneka Ogwumike was hoping for a chance to test herself against the Lady Bears and Brittney Griner.

Stanford can beat Baylor; here's how
In the Big Dance, neutral fans love the underdog. It may seem strange to put a 35-1 team in that category, but that's what Stanford is against Baylor and Brittney Griner, who's the nearest thing to an unstoppable force...