The 2012 Women's NCAA Tournament action gets underway with 16 first round games on Saturday, and the No. 7 DePaul Blue Demons have a big matchup against the No. 10 BYU Cougars at 5:40 PM in the Des Moines Region. Both teams face a tough road to the Final Four at the Pepsi Center in Denver, as the Tennessee Lady Volunteers would be the likely matchup in the next round, but the first order of business is surviving the chaos of the first day for DePaul.
The game should be a good one, as each team has some interesting factors leaning in their favor. DePaul is playing a de facto home game at the All-State Arena, while BYU will boast a serious height advantage that could swing the outcome. Here is some excellent analysis of the matchup from Nate Parham at SB Nation's women's basketball blog, Swish Appeal:
What stands out about DePaul this season - with 6-foot-3 post Felicia Chester having graduated and 6-foot-2 senior forward Keisha Hampton out for all but 12 games due to injury - is that their defensive efficiency declined dramatically, from 85th in the nation to 227th. Both of these teams are efficient offensively, but BYU's methodical offense might could give DePaul problems while simultaneously stopping the Blue Demons with their disciplined defense.
In addition, BYU will come into this game with a major height advantage with 6-foot-3 WCC Player of the Year Kristen Riley and 6-foot-7 center Jennifer Hamson that should help exploit DePaul's rebounding weakness - opponents have beaten DePaul on the offensive boards 35.74% to 32.93%. The combination of BYU's discipline on defense, a methodical offense, and a potential rebounding advantage could help them earn a win against DePaul despite playing a "road game" in Chicago.
Game Time and Date: 5:40 p.m. CT, Saturday, March 17, 2012.
Location: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL
Online Stream: ESPN3