23-10 (9-7 Big East)
25-8 (12-4 SEC)
These teams played earlier this year in Madison Square Garden, with the Lady Vols winning 84-61. Despite the two-day turnaround from their first round games, these teams should have a good idea what to expect from each other, making this a potentially good one to watch. DePaul is a pretty solid team, with the only real questionable conference loss being a blowout at the hands of Syracuse. Otherwise, though, they've been dependable throughout the season: good enough to win the games they should, but 0-fer any team that ever held a top 10 ranking at any point.
DePaul is also the host school for this weekend, meaning they are the 'home' team in terms of location. But Tennessee will wear the white jerseys as their seed dictates, and the court itself is not one that DePaul has ever played on. Both teams cut their teeth on the Allstate Arena on Friday, with Tennessee slowly strangling out a solid win over Tennessee-Martin, and DePaul getting all they could ever want from BYU. With early tournament jitters out of the way, both teams should be ready to put on a show.
DePaul isn't a run-and-gun team and will play a fairly traditional halfcourt game. Their offense is reasonably balanced, but Anna Martin is the clear go-to shooter and (hey, look!) is another guard who tends to lead the pack. She's 40% from three, which clearly leads the team for shooters who have taken more than 10 treys (one player is 4-7, but small samples don't rate). Overall, DePaul is 44% from the field, 35% from three, and scores about 74 points per game. They aren't a particularly strong rebounding team, so choosing good shots and making them count is absolutely critical to their chances for success. If Tennessee can shut down DePaul's prime shooters like they did against UT-Martin, it will be extremely difficult for DePaul to find the offense necessary to win.
The Blue Demons roster is effectively seven deep, with only guards Megan Rogowski and Kelsey Reynolds serving significant time from the bench. (Those two are 5'-7" and 5'-9", respectively.) Forward Keisha Hampton will spell the interior, but is generally only played long enough to give a starter a breather. With this, interior fouls can be a big concern for DePaul; if they get in early foul trouble, they don't really have the depth to mask it. Will Tennessee try to exploit this, or will we be treated to ALL THE THREES yet again? Tennessee tried 27 treys against UT-Martin; that kind of tomfoolery won't get them very far as the competition improves.
It should be noted that Isabelle Harrison and Cierra Burdick played important minutes during the tournament opener. Those two will be critical to the interior rotation as the tournament progresses, and getting them quality time in this game will be of great benefit if Tennessee advances. We all know about Glory and Vicki in the interior, but an eye should be cast on the two freshmen as well.
This will definitely be a tougher game than UT-Martin, but Tennessee should also play much better now that the two-week hiatus is over and the rust is gone (we hope). Defense and rebounding will win this game, and both are firmly to Tennessee's advantage.
72 - 59 Tennessee