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COLLEGE WOMEN: Championship rematch tops big-game week
October 31st, 2003 3:42AM

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Third-ranked Portland visits No. 8 Santa Clara in a rematch of last year's NCAA title game on Sunday, the biggest battle in a weekend of showdowns and conference title-deciders.

Seven games pair Top 25 teams, three in the Atlantic Coast Conference; two conferences -- the Big East and Missouri Valley -- start their conference tournaments; and there are five matchups with a conference regular-season championship at stake.

Conference titles are up for grabs in 13 of 30 Division I conferences and tournament berths are still to be decided in 13 leagues. Only the Ivy League and Pacific 10 and West Coast conferences continue league play through next weekend; all other women's conferences have tournaments to determine automatic bids for the NCAA tournament, for which brackets will be unveiled Nov. 10.

Defending champion Portland (16-2-0), with a young lineup featuring six freshmen, heads into the WCC clash with Santa Clara on a 12-game winning streak, 10 of them shutouts. The Broncos (10-3-5), led by preseason All-American Leslie Osborne, are unbeaten in nine games.

The best of Sunday's Big East quarterfinals pits No. 17 Connecticut against visiting Villanova. The other games are No. 2 Notre Dame-Miami, Fla., Boston College-Rutgers and West Virginia-St. John's. Sunday's MVC quarters have Creighton at Northern Iowa and Drury at Southwest Missouri State.

No. 14 Utah meets No. 16 Brigham Young in a Mountain West Conference showdown Saturday. BYU needs to win to share the conference regular-season title with the Utes. There are also title showdowns this weekend in the Big Sky (Weber State-Northern Arizona), Big West (Cal Poly-Utah State), Conference USA (UAB-South Florida, although DePaul also could earn a share) and MAAC (Loyola, Md.-Niagara).

In the Atlantic Coast, top-ranked North Carolina, at 17-0-0 the lone unbeaten D1 squad, on Friday takes on second-place Florida State, which is ranked ninth after going 10-1-1 following a 1-4 start. No. 10 Duke plays host Friday to No. 19 Maryland. No. 6 Virginia is home to No. 22 Clemson on Saturday.

There are three big clashes in the Big 12 on Friday: No. 12 Colorado, which has clinched the conference crown, is home against No. 23 Nebraska, which the Buffaloes have never beaten. No. 11 Texas A&M and No. 21 Texas resume their rivalry at Austin. And Missouri visits Iowa State with the final conference tournament berth at stake.

In the Pac-10, there's a slim chance No. 4 UCLA could clinch the title with a win Sunday against archrival USC. The weekend's other big matchup, on Friday, has No. 18 Washington home to second-place Stanford.

Regular-season titles have been determined in the following conferences:

America East: Boston University has clinched a share of the title, will win outright with a win or tie Saturday against visiting Binghamton
Atlantic Coast: North Carolina
Atlantic Sun: Florida Atlantic and Central Florida
Big East: Notre Dame in the Mid-Atlantic Division, Connecticut in the Northeast Division
Big Ten: Penn State
Big 12: Colorado
Colonial Athletic Association: Hofstra
Horizon League: UW Milwaukee
Mid-American: Eastern Michigan and Kent State
Mid-Continent: Oakland
Missouri Valley: Drake and Illinois State
Northeast: Central Connecticut State
Southeastern: Auburn in the Western Division; Tennessee has clinched a share of the Eastern Division title and will win outright with a win or tie Friday at Georgia
Southern: Furman
Southwestern Athletic: Grambling State in the West Division, Alabama A&M in the East Division
Western Athletic: SMU and Hawaii

Conference tournaments (with teams that have qualified):

America East: Six teams, Nov. 4 at home sites, Nov. 7 and 9 at top seed (Boston U., Maine, Hartford, Northeastern, New Hampshire).

Atlantic Coast: Eight teams, Nov. 5, 7 and 9 at Cary, N.C. (all teams).

Atlantic Sun: Six teams, Nov. 6, 7 and 9 at Florida Atlantic (Florida Atlantic, Central Florida, Campbell, Georgia State, Gardner-Webb, Stetson).

Atlantic-10: Six teams, Nov. 6, 7 and 9 at Richmond (Richmond, Dayton, Fordham, Rhode Island).

Big East: Eight teams, Nov. 2 at home sites, Nov. 7 and 9 at Rutgers (Connecticut, Boston College, St. John's, Miami, Fla., Notre Dame, West Virginia, Rutgers, Villanova).

Big Sky: Four teams, Nov. 6 and 8 at top seed (Northern Arizona, Idaho State, Weber State).

Big South: Eight teams, Nov. 6, 7 and 8 at High Point (all teams).

Big Ten: Eight teams, Nov. 6, 7 and 9 at Wisconsin (Penn State, Illinois, Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State, Wisconsin).

Big 12: Eight teams, Nov. 6, 7 and 9 at San Antonio (Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State).

Big West: Four teams, Nov. 7 and 9 at Cal State Fullerton (none).

Colonial Athletic Association: Six teams, Nov. 4 at home sites, Nov. 7 and 9 at top seed (Hofstra, William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth, Delaware, James Madison).

Conference USA: Eight teams, Nov. 5, 6 and 8 at Charlotte (UAB, Marquette, DePaul, South Florida, Tulane, TCU, Saint Louis).

Horizon: Seven teams, Nov. 6, 7 and 9 at Loyola-Chicago (all teams).

Metro Atlantic Athletic: Four teams, Nov. 7 and 9 at Rider (Loyola, Md., Niagara).

Mid-American: Eight teams, Nov. 4 at home sites, Nov. 7 and 9 at top remaining seed (Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Western Michigan, Ball State, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Ohio U., Bowling Green).

Mid-Continent: Four teams, Nov. 7 and 9 at Oral Roberts (Oakland, Oral Roberts).

Missouri Valley: Six teams, Nov. 2 at home sites, Nov. 7 and 9 at St. Louis (Drake, Illinois State, Southwest Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Creighton, Drury).

Mountain West: Seven teams, Nov. 5, 6 and 8 at Utah (all teams).

Northeast: Four teams, Nov. 7 and 9 at Robert Morris (Central Connecticut State, Sacred Heart, Monmouth).

Ohio Valley: Six teams, Nov. 4 at home sites, Nov. 7 and 9 at top seed (Samford, Eastern Illinois, Jacksonville State, UT Martin, Southeast Missouri State, Tennessee Tech).

Patriot League: Four teams, Nov. 7 and 9 at top seed (Navy, American, Colgate).

Southeastern:Eight teams, Nov. 6, 7 and 9 at Orange Beach, Ala. (Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, Mississippi).

Southern: Eight teams, Nov. 6, 7 and 9 at UNC Greensboro (Furman, UNC Greensboro, East Tennessee State, College of Charleston, Chattanooga, Wofford).

Southland: Six teams, Nov. 6, 7 and 9 at Northwestern State (Southeastern Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin, Northwestern State, Texas State, UL Monroe, McNeese State).

Southwestern Athletic: Four teams, Nov. 7 and 9 at Alabama A&M, no automatic NCAA bid (Alabama A&M, Mississippi Valley State, Grambling State, Prairie View A&M).

Sun Belt: Eight teams, Nov. 5, 6 and 8 at Western Kentucky (Denver, North Texas, Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky, South Alabama).

Western Athletic: Six teams, Nov. 6, 7 and 8 at SMU (SMU, Hawaii, Rice, UTEP, Fresno State, Boise State).



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