Navy women to face Kentucky

Navy women celebrate NCAA seed

Navy's reward for their third straight Patriot League Championship is an invite to the big dance as a No. 15 seed and a date with Kentucky in Queens. The Midshipmen are in the Bridgeport region (along with Maryland) and they face a tough task ahead against the Wildcats who were runners up in this year's SEC Tournament.

Navy's reward for their third straight Patriot League Championship is an invite to the big dance as a No. 15 seed and a date with Kentucky in Queens. The Midshipmen are in the Bridgeport region (along with Maryland) and they face a tough task ahead against the Wildcats who were runners up in this year's SEC Tournament. "We knew that it would be tough," Navy Coach Stefanie Pemper said of the Wildcats, who lost to Texas A&M in the SEC title game, 75-67. "I think it's a lot like the Maryland matchup [in last season's NCAA tournament]. They're deep. They're athletic. They're tall. It's kind of the golden age of Kentucky basketball."

Obviously the Mids are facing a team in the Wildcats that are expected to beat them and beat them handily. It is worth noting however that Navy has proven all season that they know how to defend and that the 51.7 points a game that the Mids give up is best for 13th in the nation. That is obviously a stat that you wouldn't expect to find with your average 15th seed and it will certainly give the Wildcats coaching staff something to think about over the next few days.

For the Mids to have a shot they will certainly need to keep up the defensive pressure, a feat which is made more difficult than normal by the presence of A'dia Mathies. Mathies is the back-to-back SEC player of the year and she is undoubtedly one of the top five players in the entire country. Mathies is one of those tough, self-assured leaders that make the team around her better and if the Mids are to spring an upset they will have to find a way to get her out of her usually fluid game. If she fills up the stat sheet like she can, 40 percent from three and fifth in the SEC in scoring, then it will be a long night for Navy.

What though if they can stop Mathies. This Midshipmen team is tough; they are not going to step on the court with a deer in the headlights look that many of the smaller schools get when taking on legacy teams. What if Navy stands up and is counted, get a few breaks, and goes toe-to-toe with the Wildcats? In that scenario the Mids can win this game. The plan has to be to stay in striking distance of Kentucky by keeping the score low and steal the game late.

The beauty of the NCAA Tournament is that you just never know.

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