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Stanford women get No. 1 seed, face UC Davis

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Stanford women get No. 1 seed, face UC Davis

March 14, 2011
(AP) -- The Stanford women's basketball team will begin its quest for a fourth consecutive Final Four with a first-round matchup against UC Davis on Saturday.

Stanford received a No. 1 seed Monday when the brackets were released for the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. Connecticut earned the No. 1 overall seed.

It was the second straight No. 1 seed for the Cardinal, who fell to UConn in the title game last season.

Tennessee, and Baylor are the other No. 1 seeds. The tournament begins Saturday.

Connecticut's path to a third straight national championship could include a renewal of the most heated rivalry in women's college basketball.

For Geno Auriemma to match Tennessee coach Pat Summitt with an eighth national championship he might have to go through her Lady Vols, who earned the top seed in the Dayton region. If both come through their regions, UConn and Tennessee could meet again in the national semifinals at Indianapolis.

Auriemma's Huskies didn't have to face Tennessee during its record 90-game winning streak that was ended by Stanford on Dec. 30. The two pre-eminent teams in the sport broke off their annual matchup in 2007 in a testy split.

First up for UConn is former star Jen Rizzotti and her Hartford Hawks, who won the America East title. The two teams have played each other over the last six years but didn't meet this season. Hartford is winless in 11 meetings against UConn.

The Huskies will be trying for their third consecutive title, matching their run from 2002-04 and Tennessee's from 1996-98. UConn is one of a record nine Big East teams in the field. The Big East got 11 men's teams in their field announced Sunday.

Unlike the men's bracket that expanded to 68 teams this year, the women decided to stick with 64. Indianapolis will host the Final Four on April 3 and 5.

The last time the Final Four was in Indianapolis, Baylor won the championship as a No. 2 seed.

The Lady Bears, led by sophomore center Brittney Griner, will face No. 16 Prairie View in their opener on Sunday in the Dallas region. No. 8 Houston will play No. 9 West Virginia, No. 5 Wisconsin-Green Bay takes on No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock, and No. 4 Michigan State plays No. 13 Missouri Valley champion Northern Iowa.

In the other part of the bracket, No. 6 Georgia takes on No. 11 Middle Tennessee State, which is still dealing with the death of Tina Stewart. Her Blue Raiders teammates played, and lost, their lone game in the Sun Belt Conference tournament.

No. 2 Texas A&M meets No. 15 McNeese State, No. 7 Rutgers plays No. 10 Louisiana Tech and No. 3 Florida State plays No. 14 Samford.

If the seeds hold, the Aggies and Lady Bears will meet for the fourth time this season. Baylor beat Texas A&M by a total of 15 points in their three meetings including a three-point win in the Big 12 title game.

Stanford, which opens against UC Davis, could also face UCLA for a fourth time this year. The Cardinal swept the No. 3 seed in Spokane three times, but the Bruins had a late lead in the Pac-10 title game on Saturday.

Tennessee will open at home in the Dayton region against No. 16 Stetson, which needed a 55-footer at the buzzer to advance to the Atlantic Sun tournament championship game. No. 8 Marquette will play No. 9 Texas in the other game in Knoxville.

No. 5 Georgia Tech will play No. 12 Bowling Green and No. 4 Ohio State faces No. 13 Central Florida. The Buckeyes have had a roller-coaster season, winning their first seven games before dropping seven of the next nine. They righted themselves and have won their last nine games capped by a Big Ten tournament title.

No. 2 Notre Dame plays No. 15 Utah and No. 7 Arizona State meets No. 10 Temple. Rounding out that part of the bracket, No. 3 Miami plays No. 14 Gardner-Webb and No. 6 Oklahoma plays No. 11 James Madison. The Sooners have made the Final Four the last two seasons.

In the Spokane region, No. 8 Texas Tech takes on No. 9 St. John's. Fifth-seeded North Carolina plays No. 12 Fresno State, and No. 4 Kentucky faces No. 13 Hampton.

No. 2 Xavier plays No. 15 South Dakota State, and No. 7 Louisville faces No. 10 Vanderbilt. Xavier lost to Stanford last season in the regional finals when the Musketeers missed two layups with the clock running down and the Cardinal hit a shot at the buzzer. No. 6 Iowa plays 11th-seeded Gonzaga while No. 3 UCLA takes on No. 14 Montana.

In the Philadelphia region, No. 8 Kansas State plays Purdue; fifth-seeded Georgetown takes on No. 12 Princeton; and No. 4 Maryland faces No. 13 Saint Francis, Pa. No. 2 Duke hosts 15th-ranked Tennessee-Martin, and No. 7 Iowa State plays 10th-seeded Marist. Finally, No. 6 Penn State hosts No. 11 Dayton and third-seeded DePaul faces No. 14 Navy.

Von Miller calls 49ers’ Trent Brown 'the best right tackle in the NFL’

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AP

Von Miller calls 49ers’ Trent Brown 'the best right tackle in the NFL’

Von Miller has 73.5 sacks to his name over six seasons in the NFL. He's a five-time Prow Bowl linebacker, three-time All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, and Super Bowl MVP. 

Trent Brown has played 21 games in two NFL seasons for the 49ers, 18 of them as starts. Despite his little time in the NFL and lack of honors, the Broncos' defensive star sees San Francisco's young offensive lineman as the best in the game at his position.

“He’s the best right tackle in the National Football League,” Miller said to the San Francisco Chronicle Wednesday after the first of two joint practices with the 49ers. “And he may even be a top-five tackle, period, in the National Football League. There’s not another tackle who’s that tall, that big and can move he way he moves.”

Brown, at 24 years old and standing 6-foot-8 while weighing 355 pounds, was the only offensive lineman invited to Miller's "Pass Rush Summit" at Stanford in June. Miller says he invited Brown so he could gain more knowledge, but also added, "from my point of view, we could get it (more knowledge) from a premier-offensive-tackle point of view.”

The two went up against each other in the trenches Wednesday in Santa Clara. After Brown held his own, Miller poured on the praise, but he made it clear how the young offensive lineman's future is all up to himself. Brown holds the keys to his potential. 

"He’ll be as good as he wants to be," Miller said. "When he’s on, there’s not another tackle in the National Football League that’s as good as him."

Miller also made a bold prediction. "He’s going to have one of the biggest (contracts) for an offensive lineman."

Brown's rookie deal ends after the 2018 season. 

Practice report: Conley locking in mentally while rehabbing injury

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AP

Practice report: Conley locking in mentally while rehabbing injury

NAPA – Gareon Conley ran Sunday for the first time in two months. The Raiders first-round cornerback remains on the physically unable to perform list with a shin injury originally suffered during a June minicamp. He wants to get back on the field. He just isn’t ready yet.

Missing training camp certainly sets back a dynamic cover man, but it doesn’t mean Conley can’t make an instant impact. While he hasn’t been seen on the practice field, the Raiders have been encouraged that Conley’s proving a quick learner and an inquisitive mind.

“We’d love to have him out there right now,” Raiders assistant head coach – defense John Pagano said. “When he’s out there, he’ll be out there. Until then, I think he got the reps he needed in OTAs. His mental game has picked up tremendously. He’s always asking questions, even more. It’s hard for a lot of injured players in this league to stand there on the sidelines and be able to just watch and look out there, but he’s always asking. He’s getting those mental reps.

"When he’s able to come back, he’ll be at a fast level. Injuries are part of the game, you deal with it and you just have to make sure, as a rookie, you’re taking those mental reps.”

Conley has been on the practice field with his position group most days, with a play sheet in hand to follow along. He has also lifted weights the past two days and worked on the JUGS machine Wednesday.

Nearly a month remains until the regular season starts, leaving Conley time to get back in the mix.

QUICK SLANTS

-- Cornerback Sean Smith took some reps with the first unit on Wednesday, though most of them came as an outside corner in the nickel package. TJ Carrie slid inside in those instances, and generally remained outside in the base defense.

Smith had his second straight quality practice, a sign he might be rebounding after a rough week where he practiced with the second unit and didn’t fare well at Arizona. The Raiders hope he can build on good work and be steadier in coverage.

“I think he’s growing every day,” Pagano said. “There’s always highs and lows in this game. You don’t want to make it, as we term, inconsistent. We’re always looking for the consistency. It’s how you build. It’s how you learn. It’s how you come off those things. There’s always room for improvement in the backend, in the front, all across our defense. There’s guys we’re asking them to go out there and make plays. Has he been improving at practice? Yeah. Then our job is to take that practice stuff and take it to the game field and have that consistency and that carry over to those types of games.”

-- Offensive line coach Mike Tice praised Ian Silberman’s play in a position switch to center. He has seen extensive reps there in camp, including a massive amount in the preseason opener at Arizona. Silberman will play some left guard in coming weeks to establish versatility and give him a shot to make the team.

-- Undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow played with the first unit in sub packages, as the Raiders continue searching for coverage options in those personnel groups.

-- Jon Feliciano worked with the first unit on Wednesday at left guard. He will be a primary backup at every interior line spot. He is working back from a knee injury that kept him out until last week.