Momentum Growing For Change Of Women's Sweet 16 Format, Location
Some individuals within women's college basketball are "pushing for change" in the NCAA Tournament's format, specifically to have all Sweet 16/Elite Eight games "played in Las Vegas in a single-site gathering for the sport" akin to the college baseball/softball World Series in Omaha/Oklahoma City, according to Jeff Metcalfe of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The concept was originated by longtime college basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli, who had been "kicking around" the idea for several years. The concept is now "gaining momentum as a way to elevate the women's tournament to a new level." Arizona State women's basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne said, "It would be amazing for our game to build equity in Vegas, a place that's a destination, where a lot of people want to go." She added, "We keep moving backwards. We can't play on neutral sites, we're not filling the stands. It's just kind of to me a no-brainer. I really hope we're looking at it because I think it would be unbelievable for our game." However, Univ. of Oregon coach Kelly Graves said, "We need to stick with one and go with it, try and grow it." She said that she actually does "'like the regionals,' provided they are located in areas that traditionally draw well for women's basketball" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/30).
SHOWING UP IN A BIG WAY: Oregon defeated Mississippi State yesterday at Moda Center to secure a spot in the Final Four, and in Portland, John Canzano wrote, "If you convince Oregonians that an event is special -- or part of a limited-time run -- we’ll show up." That happened with yesterday's game "in a big way." Oregon Gov. Kate Brown "showed up." There were 11,538 tickets sold for the game. Oregon making the final "gave the event more juice." Canzano: "But there were 7,000 tickets sold before the brackets were even revealed, and so what we had here was a raging success that the NCAA should not ignore." Portland will again be the site of a women’s NCAA Tournament Regional in '20. The next available women’s Final Four bid "should go to Portland." The women’s Final Four is currently scheduled through '24. Canzano: "So how does 2025 work for you, Oregon?" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/1).