One look at the 63 NCAA women’s tourney games
Baylor is six wins from a second straight national championship.
But, it’s hardly a foregone conclusion this year that the Lady
Bears will repeat.
Here’s one look at the 63 games and how they might pan out. It’s
guaranteed to remain unblemished until at least Saturday’s
opening-round games (seedings in parentheses, winners in
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Idaho (16) – The Huskies will make the
Vandals’ first trip to the NCAAs in 28 years a short one. UConn
isn’t about to see its 20-plus year streak of losing back-to-back
VANDERBILT (8) Saint Joseph’s (9) – Saint Joseph’s plays
tenacious defense, as was evident with their run to the Atlantic 10
tournament title. Unfortunately, Vanderbilt, which is just one of
eight schools to make the NCAA field every year since 2000, can
shoot the ball well.
MARIST (12) vs Michigan State (5) – There may not be that one
star player on Brian Giorgis’ team this season, but the Red Foxes
play great defense and anyone can step up on a given day. The
Spartans had a great run through the Big Ten tournament before
falling just short. This will be a low-scoring affair with the
underdog coming away with the win.
MARYLAND (4) vs. Quinnipiac (13) – The Bobcats are making their
first trip to the NCAAs and riding a 22-game winning streak. Coach
Tricia Fabbri loves to play a hockey-style game subbing five in at
a time, hoping to wear down an opponent. It won’t be enough to
upset Alyssa Thomas and the Terps.
DELAWARE (6) vs. West Virginia (11) – Getting to play on their
home court will be enough to help Elena Delle Donne and the Blue
Hens overcome the physical Mountaineers. Akeema Richards
transferred from West Virginia and will definitely have added
incentive to send the Mountaineers home early.
NORTH CAROLINA (3) vs. Albany, NY (14) – The Tar Heels are back
in the tournament after a rare one-year absence, and with ACC
rookie of the year Xylina McDaniel – the daughter of former NBA
star Xavier McDaniel will get through the first round. The Great
Danes are making their second straight NCAA appearance after
running through the America East. Unfortunately, they don’t have
enough offense to stay with the Tar Heels.
ST. JOHN’S (10) vs. Dayton (7) – The Red Storm are hosting for
the first time and don’t plan on losing in the opening round. The
balanced Flyers have only lost twice this season, but lack of
tournament experience will do them in.
KENTUCKY (2) vs. Navy (15) – The Wildcats have too much on
offense and have a strong pressure defense to not sink the young
Midshipmen. Navy is making its third straight trip to the
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Vanderbilt (9) – The Commodores won’t be
able to keep up with UConn and the Huskies will advance to the
regional semifinals for the 20th straight season.
MARYLAND (4) vs. Marist (12) – The Terrapins are tough to beat
at home and the Red Foxes will challenge them, but Thomas and
Tianna Hawkins will prove to be too much.
DELAWARE (6) vs. North Carolina (3) – There’s just no way that
Elena Delle Donne will lose her final game at home. She’ll have a
huge game to lift the Blue Hens to the regional semifinals and a
trip to Connecticut.
KENTUCKY (2) vs. St. John’s (10) – Nadirah McKenith will be able
to handle the Wildcats’ 40 minutes of dread. Unfortunately, the Red
Storm don’t have an answer for Samarie Walker.
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Maryland (4) – The Terrapins gave UConn a
tough game in the Jimmy V Classic back in December. Maryland is
still short-handed and the Huskies are too strong.
KENTUCKY (2) vs. Delaware (6) – Delle Donne and Samarie Walker
could have been teammates at UConn. Instead, they will be facing
each other in the regional semifinals. Delle Donne’s career will
end one step short of the matchup that everyone would have loved to
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Kentucky (2) – Tiffany Hayes was the
difference last year when these two met in the regional final and
UConn came away with a 15-point win. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis will be
the one this time to get the Huskies back to their sixth straight
NOTRE DAME (1) vs. Tennessee-Martin (16) – The Irish aren’t
thrilled they are playing in Iowa. They’ll take it out on the
Skyhawks. Tennessee-Martin has won eight straight and already
played three Top 10 teams this season back in November. They lost
those on average by 23 points.
IOWA (9) vs Miami (8) – For the second straight season, the
Hurricanes will have to play an opponent on its home court in the
NCAA tournament. For the second time in a row, they’ll fall. Iowa
has lost in four of their past five opening-round NCAA games.
COLORADO (5) vs Kansas (12) – The Jayhawks were somewhat of a
surprise to make the field. Angel Goodrich and Chucky Jeffrey will
be an awesome matchup of two talented senior guards. The Buffaloes
have enough of a supporting cast and home-court advantage to win
this matchup of teams familiar with each other from their Big 12
SOUTH CAROLINA (4) vs South Dakota State (13) – The Jackrabbits
have made the NCAA tournament all five years since they moved up
from NCAA Division II, winning once. They won’t be able to get that
second victory in the matchup of ”south” schools. The Gamecocks
set a school record with their 11 SEC wins this season and matched
a 33-year-old school record with 23 regular-season wins.
NEBRASKA (6) vs. Chattanooga (11) – Jordan Hooper and Lindsay
Moore were a combined 9 for 39 in last season’s opening round loss
to Kansas in NCAA tournament. They won’t repeat that against the
Lady Mocs, who have won 19 straight games.
TEXAS A&M (3) vs. Wichita State (14) – The Shockers are
making their first appearance in the NCAA tournament and it will be
a short one against a strong Texas A&M squad which is peaking
at the right time. The Aggies had three straight wins over No. 14
South Carolina, No. 9 Tennessee and No. 7 Kentucky to win the SEC
DEPAUL (10) vs. Oklahoma State (7) – The Blue Demons are a very
different team when Anna Martin plays. The senior guard will get
them out of the first round against the Cowgirls.
DUKE (2) vs. Hampton (15) – The Lady Pirates have won 19
straight games and lead the nation in scoring defense (47.2 ppg).
They definitely could make noise in the tournament if they didn’t
have to travel to Durham for the first round. The Blue Devils will
pull out a close victory at home.
NOTRE DAME (1) vs. Iowa (9) – The Irish have beaten UConn twice
in Connecticut. Really, how much more hostile could the Hawkeyes
fans be? Notre Dame rolls to regional semifinals.
SOUTH CAROLINA (4) vs. Colorado (5) – Aleighsa Welch will get
the Gamecocks back to the regional semifinals for the second
TEXAS A&M (3) vs. Nebraska (6) – Kelsey Bone is going to be
too much for the Cornhuskers’ front line as the Aggies move on.
DUKE (2) vs. DePaul (10) – After a defensive struggle in the
first game, the Blue Devils will be happy to open it up against the
Blue Demons. Duke has just too much offense for DePaul to keep up
NOTRE DAME (1) vs. South Carolina (4) – Natalie Achonwa has
stepped up her game this season after playing for Canada in the
Olympics this past summer. She’ll be the difference against the
DUKE (2) vs. Texas A&M (3) – It’s going to be a great battle
inside between Elizabeth Williams and Kelsey Bone. Duke’s got too
much of a supporting cast including freshman Alexis Jones who has
helped the Blue Devils survive the season-ending injury to Chelsea
NOTRE DAME (1) vs. Duke (2) – The Irish haven’t needed much out
of stellar guard Skylar Diggins until now. She’ll carry Notre Dame
back to the Final Four in one of the best games of the tournament.
It’s just too bad that Duke isn’t at 100 percent or else this would
have been a great day to be a Blue Devil.
STANFORD (1) vs. Tulsa (16) – Tulsa is 10-3 in its last 13
games. The Golden Hurricanes didn’t play anyone the caliber of the
Cardinal. Tulsa’s first NCAA trip in seven years will be done in
VILLANOVA (9) vs. Michigan (8) – Kim Barnes Arico knows all
about Harry Perretta’s system having spent years coaching at St.
John’s. Her new team just doesn’t have enough offensive weapons to
beat the Wildcats.
GONZAGA (12) vs. Iowa State (5) – The Zags have made a living
the last few years winning NCAA tournament games at home. The
Cyclones will be the latest higher seed to fall to Kelly Graves’
GEORGIA (4) vs. Montana (13) – Andy Landers and Robin Selvig
have combined for over 1,600 wins in their stellar careers, yet
have only played once. That game was in the 2000 NCAA tournament
played in Athens. Georgia won by 28. This meeting might not end
LSU (6) vs. Green Bay (11) – Green Bay has won at least one game
in the NCAAs in the past three years, including a trip to the
regional semifinals in 2011. Kevin Borseth is back in charge after
spending a few years at Michigan. The Phoenix just don’t have
enough to knock off the Lady Tigers at home.
PENN STATE (3) vs. Cal Poly (14) – The Mustangs earned their
first trip to the NCAA tournament with all-around team
contributions. They just don’t have nearly enough to hang with the
talented Nittany Lions backcourt of Maggie Lucas and Alex
SOUTH FLORIDA (10) vs. Texas Tech (7) – The Red Raiders are
tough to beat at home going 14-3 this season, but the Bulls have
the Smith sisters – Andrea and Andrell – who can put points on the
board in a hurry. Throw in Inga Orekhova, who can get hot from the
outside at anytime, and coach Jose Fernandez’s team will advance to
the second round for the first time.
CALIFORNIA (2) vs. Fresno State (15) – These two Northern
California schools are traveling 1,400 miles to meet in the first
round. The Bulldogs will have a long trip home as they have no one
who can match with Layshia Clarendon.
STANFORD (1) vs. Villanova (9) – There could be a lot of 3s
taken in this game. Amber Orrange carried the Cardinal to the
Pac-12 tournament title. She’ll be the difference against the
GONZAGA (12) vs. Georgia (4) – The Zags are missing the star
power they’ve had in the past, but they still have the home-court
advantage and send the Lady Bulldogs home early again. Georgia
hasn’t made it past the regional semifinals since 2004.
PENN STATE (3) vs. LSU (6) – These teams will play for the
second year in a row in Baton Rouge. Last season, the Nittany Lions
won by 10. It will be another high-scoring matchup, but the Lady
Tigers just don’t have enough to pull off the upset.
CALIFORNIA (2) vs. South Florida (10) – This could be an
entertaining matchup with lots of points put up if South Florida is
hitting its shots. Unfortunately, the Bulls have also struggled at
times on offense – see a 42-39 win over Rutgers in Big East
tournament second round. The Golden Bears will advance.
STANFORD (1) vs. Gonzaga (4) – A rematch of the 2011 regional
final played in the same arena. A much better Gonzaga team lost by
23 to the Cardinal. This Stanford team isn’t as good, either, but
still has enough to end another Bulldogs season.
PENN STATE (3) vs. California (2) – President Barack Obama has
California advancing to the Final Four. The Golden Bears just don’t
have a way to stop the Nittany Lions’ backcourt of Maggie Lucas and
Alex Bentley. Brittany Boyd will do the best she can, but it won’t
STANFORD (1) vs. Penn State (3) – Big players lead teams to the
Final Four and Chiney Ogwumike will get the Cardinal there for the
sixth straight year. The Nittany Lions make it a step farther than
last season, but still fall short of their first Final Four since
OKLAHOMA CITY REGIONAL
BAYLOR (1) vs. Prairie View A&M (16) – These teams played in
the first round of the NCAA tournament two years ago and the Lady
Bears came away with a 36-point win. Brittney Griner and Co. are
much better, and it will be a much wider margin.
PRINCETON (9) vs. Florida State (8) – The only thing missing
from Niveen Rasheed’s career at Princeton is an NCAA tournament
victory. That will change after the Tigers beat the Seminoles
giving an Ivy League school a win for the first time since the
Harvard-Stanford upset in 1998.
LOUISVILLE (4) vs. Middle Tennessee (13) – If the Blue Raiders
were playing this game on a neutral court they’d have a really good
shot at pulling off the upset behind star Ebony Rowe. Unfortunately
for Middle Tennessee, the game is being played at Louisville. The
home court will be the difference.
PURDUE (5) vs. Liberty (12) – The Flames enter the NCAA
tournament on a 14-game winning streak despite losing starting
point guard Emily Frazier to a knee injury on Feb. 16. They’re
running against a Boilermakers squad that peaked at the right time
with a Big Ten tournament title.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN (11) vs. Oklahoma (6) – The Chippewas have
size, depth and athleticism, and in Crystal Bradford, a rising
star. A demanding non-conference schedule with games against Notre
Dame and Purdue prepared them for tournament play. It will be too
much for an injury-plagued Oklahoma team that lost four players,
including three starters, to season-ending injuries by the start of
UCLA (3) vs. Stetson (14) – Fresh off a finals appearance in the
Pac-12 tournament, Cori Close’s team is peaking at the right time.
The Hatters rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to win the
Atlantic Sun Championship over top-seed FGCU. They won’t have the
same success against the Bruins.
SYRACUSE (7) vs. Creighton (10) – Star center Kayla Alexander
will cap off her stellar career by helping the Orange win their
first NCAA tournament game. She’ll be too much for Bluejays center
Sarah Nelson, who is the leading post player in the NCAA in
assist-to-turnover ratio (1.91).
TENNESSEE (2) vs. Oral Roberts (15) – Holly Warlick will get her
first NCAA tournament victory, ending the college career of
talented Oral Roberts guard Kevi Luper.
BAYLOR (1) vs. Princeton (9) – Rasheed has had a great career at
Princeton, but the Tigers don’t have enough to contain Griner and
the defending national champions.
LOUISVILLE (4) vs. Purdue (5) – The Boilermakers have been a
Jekyll and Hyde team, and looked great to end the season winning
Big Ten tournament. Don’t think they have enough to beat the
Schimmel sisters and Louisville.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN (11) vs. UCLA (6) – The Bruins have made great
strides this year under Close. Unfortunately, they are running into
a surging Central Michigan team. The Chippewas in a squeaker.
TENNESSEE (2) vs. Syracuse (7) – The Lady Vols never lose at
home in the NCAA tournament. Kayla Alexander and Carmen
Tyson-Thomas give the Orange a talented inside-outside duo, but
just don’t have enough to beat Meighan Simmons and Tennessee.
BAYLOR (1) vs. Louisville (4) – Jeff Walz’s team has no real
answer for Brittney Griner – then again no one really in the
country does. Griner will find open teammates with her stellar
passing and the Lady Bears will continue their quest for a second
TENNESSEE (2) vs. Central Michigan (11) – Only one No. 11 seed
has made it to the regional final and that was Gonzaga in 2011.
That streak will continue as the Chippewas’ season will end against
the Lady Vols.
BAYLOR (1) vs. Tennessee (2) – A rematch of last season’s
regional final game will end the same way with Baylor moving on and
Tennessee failing to make the Final Four for a fifth straight
season. There’s no way that the Lady Bears wouldn’t send coach Kim
Mulkey back home to Louisiana for the Final Four.
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Notre Dame (1) – The Irish have found a way
to win the three meetings this season and have dominated the
Huskies over the last few years like no other team ever has. The
two Big East powers will have one final clash this season and UConn
will find a way to finally pull one out ending the brilliant
college career of Diggins.
BAYLOR (1) vs. Stanford (1) – The Cardinal handed Baylor its
only loss of the past two seasons in Hawaii on Nov. 16. Odyssey
Sims pulled her hamstring early in the first half and the Lady
Bears weren’t the same. Sims is healthy and help the Lady Bears
avenge the only blemish on their season.
CONNECTICUT (1) vs. Baylor (1) – The teams met in February and
UConn couldn’t hold onto a halftime lead as Griner took over in the
second half, including scoring her 3,000th career point. This will
be one of the all-time great championship games, but Griner’s
career will end just short of a second straight national
championship and the Huskies will win their eighth.
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