Five Opposing Teams You Wouldn’t Want to Face in the Women’s NCAA Tournament

Women’s college basketball fans are familiar with the dominance of defending NCAA champion South Carolina, which is led by national player of the year Aliyah Boston. And it’s practically impossible to miss junior Kaitlin Clark’s tear as she led Iowa to back-to-back Big Ten Tournament titles.

But March is an entirely new ballgame, and other teams are waiting to make statements after the NCAA tournament tips off.

The Gamecocks and Indiana appear as the 1-seeds and are largely expected to make their way into the Final Four for Dallas and the women. But from there, there is great uncertainty over who will join him. Many teams have been inconsistent in either the regular season or conference play. Some programs look poised for deep runs, but there isn’t much to fall back on past tournament success. Injuries could be rampant with some programs like Notre Dame and Texas depending on the health of Olivia Miles and Sonya Morris in the coming weeks.

Ahead of the 68-team bracket being revealed Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App), here’s a look at some squads that made impressive runs or that could peak at the right time, teams that You probably don’t want to see your team’s corner of the bracket.

Virginia Tech: New Kids on the Block

record: 27-4 (ACC’s automatic NCAA berth)
Bracketology Projection: No. 1 seed in Seattle Region 3

It might seem odd to include the projected 1-seed here, but unlike the others vying for this spot, the Hokies are in virtually uncharted waters: They last played the second weekend of the tournament in 1999, before coach Kenny Brooks arrived. It was made over, and never progressed past the Sweet 16. They haven’t even achieved their “we’ve arrived” moment in March yet. Not fully healthy and bounced off Virginia Tech in the first round against a tough matchup at Florida Gulf Coast in last year’s NCAA tournament.

Brooks extolls his group—one, he points out, not filled with McDonald’s All-Americans—for its maturity, camaraderie, unselfishness and understanding of the moment and opportunity before the team. This is demonstrated in the Hokies’ current 11-game win streak, which culminated in the program’s first ACC Tournament crown, the first time a 3-seed or lower won the program since 2012.

Two-time ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley and tournament MVP Georgia Amur have been arguably the most potent one-two punches over the last few weeks of the season, while Kayanna Traylor, Kela King, Taylor Sole and D’Esia Gregg have been consummate. role players. If the Hokies can continue to get that kind of inside-and-outside production, and stay tough on the defensive end, their ACC run may not be the only history they make in March.

UConn: Down but not out



UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards protects the rim with big blocks

UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards protects the rim with big blocks

record: 29–5 (Big East’s automatic NCAA berth)
Bracketology Projection: No. 2 seed in Greenville 2 region

For most of February, the Huskies looked like a shell of the team that took South Carolina to the wire on February 5, and even coach Geno Auriemma is no longer buying fatigue as an excuse. Were. Losses to Marquette and St. John’s were one thing, but UConn had trouble keeping Xavier away, which was winless in conference play, in the regular season finale.

A week later, the Huskies were dancing in confetti at Mohegan Sun Arena, winners of the Big East Tournament after a comfortable weekend of UConn-esque victories over Georgetown, Marquette and No. 10 Villanova by an average margin of 24 points. Sophomore guard Azzi Fad made his return, and although his numbers were low (8.3 points on 32.1% shooting in 23 minutes per game), it’s reasonable to expect he’ll be more impressive as the month progresses. Auriemma said he only had two team practices under his belt going into the Big East Tournament.

While Fad’s shooting and offensive prowess cannot be overstated, Auriemma has maintained all season that the fate of his team will primarily rest with Aaliyah Edwards and Dorka Juhaz. The two have been inconsistency this season (Edwards most recently in February), but both wreaked havoc when it was the case in Uncasville, and with Fudd working as a floor spacer should make life easier for him.

The Huskies’ February struggle seems like a distant memory now. It’s March, and they know what happens in a place like UConn.

Tennessee: How far can talent take you?



Tennessee stuns LSU with massive 17-point comeback win

Rickia Jackson and Jordan Horsten became the first women’s Vols pair to record double-doubles in a conference tournament game since 2014, ousting the Tigers 69–67.

record: 23-11 (At-large bid; SEC Tournament runner-up)
Bracketology Projection: No. 5 seed in Seattle Region 3

Despite high preseason expectations, Tennessee has had its well-documented struggles this year, failing to pick up a ranked win amid its grueling non-conference schedule until last weekend’s upset over LSU in the SEC Tournament semifinals. The Lady Vols wouldn’t be able to play quite like they did in the first half against the Tigers, but the way they rallied in the final 20 minutes to erase a 17-point deficit and put LSU away, their last since their last close loss demonstrated growth. To the likes of Virginia Tech and Stanford.

Tennessee hasn’t always played to their potential this season, but the Lady Vols are a team that would surprise some to see on their side of the bracket with potential first-round WNBA draft picks Riccia Jackson and Jordan Horston. Are. Despite coming up short against South Carolina 74-58, the players said their SEC tournament run built their confidence for the rest of March, with coach Kelly Harper saying her team would approach with more grit and toughness than in the past. is playing Can Greenville live up to its promise for Tennessee’s debut? If so, expect X factors Jillian Hollingshead and Tess Darby to step up in a big way on the bottom and perimeter respectively.



Paige Meyer makes a nice move for the layup

Paige Meyer makes a nice move for the layup

record: 28-5 (Summit League’s automatic NCAA berth)
Bracketology Projection: No. 11 seed in Greenville 2 Region

Last year, 10-seed South Dakota was one of the Cinderellas of the NCAA tournament, as the Coyotes defeated 7-seed Ole Miss and 2-seed Baylor to advance to the Sweet 16 (and avoid upsetting third-seeded Michigan). were within reach) that run too). Who’s to say that their summit league rival won’t put up a similar performance this year? With wins over tournament teams Mississippi State and Louisville and a narrow loss in a relatively tight game against South Carolina, the Jackrabbits are perfect this season, going 4-4 ​​against Power 5 or Big East programs as well as in conference play. are.

Additionally, the Jackrabbits are the 2022 WNIT champions, having historically had NCAA tournament success. The program surpassed it on the first weekend as recently as 2019, so perhaps this is the year it takes the next step. Sixth-year senior and two-time Summit League Player of the Year Maia Selland was part of the run and will certainly draw on that experience. South Dakota State would also enter March Madness with great momentum as winners of 21 straight games and officially clinching their NCAA tournament bid with a 93–51 rout of Omaha, the most in any conference tournament final since 2000. 4th largest victory margin and the largest. Since UConn’s 56-point win over South Florida in 2017.

Ohio State: The Most Intriguing Wild Card



Ricky Harris hits go-ahead bucket to seal Ohio State’s comeback win

Ohio State completed a 24-point comeback against top-seeded Indiana in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

record: 24-7 (at-large bid; Big Ten Tournament runner-up)
Bracketology Projection:

A 105–72 blowout of Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game showed that the Buckeyes are not infallible. But in a tournament in which most teams are unfamiliar with their opponents, you probably don’t want your debut against Ohio State’s trademark press to be in a win-or-home situation. Sharpshooter Taylor Mikkels may be their most famous player, but Coty McMahon has made a statement as one of the best players in the country, and after missing most of the season due to injury, Jesse Sheldon is back and Ready to make an impact on the team. both ends.

Also last year, coach Kevin McGuff nearly guided his team to an Elite Eight bid after upsetting LSU, and a lot of that team’s experience goes back to the tournament. After starting the season 19–0, Ohio State lost six of its final 10 games of the regular season, leading to a drop in the rankings and outside expectations. But their semifinal win over Indiana, in which they rallied from 24 down to make the finals (one of their many big comebacks this season), indicated that they are not a team to be messed with. If the Buckeyes can carry on with the energy and resilience they showed in the second half against Indiana, they’ll be hard pressed regardless of the competition.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button