23-8 (15-1 OVC)
24-8 (12-4 SEC)
Hey guys, did you know that Pat Summitt went to UT-Martin? Would you like to hear all about it, especially if this game gets out of hand? Well, do I have a deal for you! (No, seriously, she did. We have UT-Martin to thank for Coach Summitt, so: thanks, y'all!) Still, expect this story line to get beaten into the ground because this is still a 2 seed vs. a 15-seed game - and, unlike the men's game, I wouldn't expect a rash of first-two-days upsets, so by all rights this should be smooth sailing. Then again, if we've learned anything this year, it' to not count on anything.
Oh, I should mention the other story line we'll hear a lot of: the last time Lady Vols won it all, they opened against UT-Martin. This game will be heavy on sentimentality and story; quite frankly, let's hope the only stories are off the court. I'd rather have a nice, relaxed win.
Then I got a look at UT-Martin's guards.
Hey guys! I think I figured out who to stop on defense! Both Butler and Newsome put up a lot of shots (to be expected), leaving everyone else to pick up the scraps. As a result, the defensive strategy here is pretty simple in theory - stop guards. Then again, that hasn't gone too well in other games this year, but there should be plenty of height in the interior, which in theory (and in Dee Kantner and Lisa Mattingly-free environs) should work well.
Speaking of, UT-Martin isn't particularly tall and they're not particularly deep. However, they do put up plenty of threes (about 26 per game) and they're not bad at them at all; Butler in particular is shooting above 40%(!) from three, plus Hasslip and Taylor are shooting in the neighborhood of 39%. I'd look for Simmons to get some defensive work if one of them gets particularly hot.
On the plus side, the Lady Vols aren't losing the turnover battle, full stop. For one, Glory Johnson. For another, there's no shortage of height (and I'm not too concerned about matching up with a four-guard lineup, because Glory can defend the point(!)).
The best way I can describe this is this feels a bit like the men's game against Long Beach State a few years ago. Long Beach, like UT-Martin, is a heavy-gunning perimeter team, and there were bits and pieces that made me nervous going into the game. Now, the actual game was a blowout, but you can talk yourself into this game feeling nervous if that's your thing.
It's not mine, though. 79-62, Lady Vols.