TV: SportSouth / ESPN3
(ed: All of today's games and times are updated in the pdf bracket, which should open in a separate window.)
Before we start, the teams that aren't around going into Friday:
- Missouri, who lost to Mississippi State in rather lackluster fashion.
- Mississippi State, who then got rolled by Florida.
- Vanderbilt, who lost to Georgia in a game that should never be shown again.
- Arkansas, who completed their underwhelming season in the most underwhelming way possible, losing to Valencia McFarland and literally nothing else.
- Alabama, who got a full-blown beatemdown laid on them by one Nikki Caldwell.
- Mississippi, who played Auburn close for about 30 minutes thanks to Valencia McFarland and literally nothing else.
And that same Nikki Caldwell will face off against Holly Warlick for the third time this season with the balance even at one. LSU flat won in Knoxville; Tennessee flat won in Baton Rouge (let's ignore the extreme refereeing efforts associated with that game). At this point, we know LSU's strengths and weaknesses - if you don't, check the original previews above - so let's distill this down to one question:
Will Ariel Massengale be back? If she is, the ceiling changes for the tourney. None of us know, but based on some comments from Warlick about headaches, that play against Florida likely resulted in a concussion - and all the variable recovery time that involves. She's back to looking game-ish ready, so the hope is that the headaches have subsided.
LSU is beatable, as we know. How's that happen?
- Thunderdome it up. LSU - quite frankly - got to take most of the second half off against Alabama, running the Crimson Tide clear out of the building. I don't know how healthy they are, but Tennessee pretty much manballed a Nikki Caldwell team before the Parade of Offensive Foul Calls in the second half in Baton Rouge. There's no reason that can't happen again, especially on the heels of that South Carolina game.
- Easy, Simmons. I think she was feeling Senior Night pressure, but Tennessee beat a top-five team with Meighan Simmons playing the passenger. That's not a stable formula the rest of the season; she needs to show, but not put too much pressure on herself to show. (The same thing goes for Cierra Burdick.)
- Adjustments. At this point, Tennessee's seen LSU for 80 minutes (and I can only assume they watched the latest game); LSU's sudden ability to score couldn't come at a worse time, and of the three dangers - Theresa Plaisance, Danielle Ballard, and Jeanna Kenney - at least two need to be shut down. Shanece McKinney, who went off against Alabama, hasn't done too much against Tennessee, so, y'know, keep doing that.