Georgia Tech's Danielle Hamilton-Carter (10) receives the ball with teammate Sydney Wallace (23), left, during practice in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, March 23, 2012. Georgia Tech is to play Baylor in an NCAA women's tournament regional semifinal college basketball game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Baylor coach Kim Mulkey insists the Bears aren't focused on the pressure that comes with being unbeaten.
They just want to win the national championship like everyone else.
Fourth-seeded Georgia Tech (26-8) gets its shot at taking down the relaxed and mighty Bears (36-0) today in the semifinals of the Des Moines regional. The winner gets either Tennessee or Kansas on Monday night.
"I don't know that we even think about pressure. We just want to win a national championship like everybody else that's remaining," Mulkey said. "There's no pressure."
Don't tell that to Georgia Tech, which has the unenviable task of trying to slow down Brittney Griner while hoping the rest of the Bears don't run wild.
Everyone knows about the 6-foot-8 Griner, who is averaging 23.1 points and 9.2 rebounds a game, has 184 blocks and famously dunked in Tuesday's 76-57 romp over Florida in the second round. But the Bears also have Odyssey Sims, who Mulkey believes is the nation's best point guard, along with a strong supporting cast that includes forward Destiny Williams and guard Kimetria Hayden.
Baylor ranks first in the nation in field goal percentage, second in assist-to-turnover ratio and scoring margin and third with 78.8 points per game.
"I don't know what's harder; to guard Brittney Griner or bring the ball up the court against Odyssey Sims. To have that type to talent on the floor, it makes our job easier as a coach," Mulkey said.
Though the Yellow Jackets are deep and athletic, they also know that nobody's stopped Baylor yet for a reason.
"That's what makes them such a difficult team to beat. I mean, at this point in the season, no one's figured that out exactly yet," Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. "They've got a great point guard and a great, great center, and then they have role players that have accepted their roles."
Though the focus in today's game will be on the Bears, Georgia Tech's not too shabby either.
Georgia Tech has already notched the best season in school history, reaching the NCAA tournament's regional semifinals for the first time. Joseph said Friday that this is the deepest and most talented team she's had in nine years on the job -- and the Yellow Jackets enter the semifinals on a hot streak.
Georgia Tech has won 13 of its last 15 games, with both losses coming to Maryland, the No. 2 seed in the Raleigh regional. The Yellow Jackets are led by 6-foot-5 center Sasha Goodlett, who averages 14.6 points a game and will be matched up with Griner on both ends, and explosive sophomore shooting guard Tyaunna Marshall.
Freshman Sydney Wallace has had an incredible NCAA tournament so far, combining for 51 points against Sacred Heart and Georgetown after averaging just six points a game before then.
"She's been helping us in spurts, pushing us over the edge in several big games down the stretch," Joseph said of Wallace. "It really helps us spread the defense with her shooting and her scoring."
Baylor rolled into Des Moines as the prohibitive favorite to leave Monday night with a Final Four berth in hand.
The Bears don't have to look far to understand that assumptions like that mean little in March.
Last season Baylor was a top seed in the nearby Dallas regional, but the Lady Bears never made it out of the weekend. Eventual national champion Texas A&M stunned the Bears 58-46, a loss that's provided them with plenty of motivation for this season's run.
"We used it as motivation to push us through to get us prepared. Now, we kind of put it behind. We are going to remember it, but we are going to put it behind and just stay focused on the game that we have coming up," Griner said.