Weekend Full of Bracket Busters

By Mechelle Voepel
ESPNET SportsZone


FEBRUARY 12, 1999

So you're just getting around to thinking about No. 1 seeds and the tournament field? Well, where have you been? Some folks were doing their brackets in August. They've refigured them 18 times.

What are you, one of those people who waits until December to do holiday shopping?

 Michelle Duhart
Michelle Duhart (33) and the Boilermakers hope to take down Penn State.

Yeah, me too.

Nonetheless, it's impossible to look at this weekend's schedule without visions of sugarplums (whoops, still stuck on Christmas) without visions of the NCAA Tournament bracket forming in your head.

There are some games that could make a difference where everyone ends up come March.

Let's start with the Big Ten, where No. 2 Purdue plays at No. 15 Penn State on Friday night. The Big Ten-leading Boilermakers are undefeated in the league; Penn State is second. And, fortunately, everyone with a satellite dish can watch on one of the 5,000 FOX networks.

But it's not like this game is a big deal (luckily, there are no Big Ten fans in my immediate vicinity so I am not being chased around the room with a large stick).

No, it's not a big deal because Purdue coach Carolyn Peck says it's not. Give Peck credit: She said the same thing after the season-opening victory over Tennessee and after the Boilermakers' one loss (to Stanford). And she'd probably repeat it if Purdue should win the national title.

(Oh, for crying out loud, Tennessee fans, I said "if.'')

Anyway, this was Peck's outlandish, Joe Namath-like proclamation going into the State College Showdown: "A lot of people are trying to make this a big game, but we are looking at it as our next game.''

Jeez, if you can't build a story around that, you need to go into the drywall business.

Thank you, coach Peck. How are they gonna calm this woman down in the WNBA?

Mechelle Voepel of the Kansas City Star writes a regular women's basketball column for ESPNET SportsZone. Her e-mail address is mvoepel@kcstar.com.