The Stanford Cardinal and Virginia Tech Hokies earned the final two No. 1 seeds in the highly competitive 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, the selections for which were revealed exclusively on ESPN as part of Sunday.
On the No. 1 seed line, the Pac-12 regular season co-champion Cardinals and ACC tournament champion Hokies are joined by the Big Ten regular season champion Indiana Hoosiers as well as the top overall seed: undefeated, defending national champion South Carolina. Gamecocks.
Led by national player of the year Aliyah Boston, South Carolina — which hasn’t lost a game in a calendar year — is six wins away from becoming the fourth program to repeat as national champions (joining UConn, Tennessee). and USC) as well as the fifth to complete an undefeated season (along with UConn, Tennessee, Texas, and Baylor).
The last two slots on the 1-row were considered fairly open heading into Selection Sunday; According to ESPN bracketologist Charlie Cream, the Iowa Hawkeyes and UConn Huskies had cases to clinch those spots after strong play in the Big Ten and Big East tournaments, respectively.
Led by national player of the year Caitlin Clarke, Iowa looked to advance to the program’s first Final Four since 1993 (coached then by the legendary C.Vivian Stringer). UConn, which lost the title game to South Carolina last season, is looking to make a record 15th consecutive Final Four appearance and win the school’s 12th national championship, its first since 2016.
Iowa and UConn are now finished on the No. 2 seed line with the Maryland Terrapins and Utah Utes, Maryland appearing in South Carolina’s quadrant, Iowa at Stanford, Utah at Indiana, and Virginia Tech at UConn. Virginia Tech – one of the hottest teams in the country as a winner of 11 straight games – has never advanced beyond the Sweet 16, the last time it played in 1999.
The Cardinals, who have been to two consecutive Final Fours, are looking for a fourth national title and second in three years after winning the 2021 championship in the San Antonio “bubble”. Despite losing two of their last three games, Stanford’s working group posted a 9–3 record against the Net Top 25 and 15 wins over the Net Top 50.
Both the Hawkeyes and the Hawkeyes were honored for their recent quality play, each moving up a seed line since the NCAA Women’s Basketball Committee’s final preliminary performance on February 23.
Considered a lock as No. 1 alongside the Gamecocks, the Hoosiers are hoping to build on the program history they established the last two tournaments, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2021 while making the Sweet 16 for the first time .
Other teams that will host first and second round contests are the UCLA Bruins, Villanova Wildcats, Texas Longhorns and Tennessee Lady Vols in addition to Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Duke Blue Devils, Ohio State Buckeyes, LSU Tigers (all 3 seeds). (all 4 seeds). The Buckeyes, Bruins, Wildcats, Longhorns and Lady Vols all lost in their respective conference tournament finals.
UCLA and Tennessee — who upset Stanford and LSU, respectively, in their league tournaments — were the biggest risers since the last early reveal, replacing the Michigan Wolverines and Arizona Wildcats in the top-16. Meanwhile LSU fell from the No. 2 line to the 3-line and Utah from the 1-seed to the 2-seed after being eliminated early in conference tournament play.
The 2023 tournament will replace the previous four-site format with two regionals, with the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games scheduled for March 24-27 in Greenville, SC, and Seattle. The regional ones would be called Greenville 1, Greenville 2, Seattle 3 and Seattle 4.
For the second year in a row, the women’s tournament will feature 68 teams, with the first four games on Wednesdays and Thursdays at campus host sites. Those matchups are: Sacred Heart vs. Southern (both 16 seeds), Tennessee Tech vs. Monmouth (both 16 seeds), Illinois vs. Mississippi State (both 11 seeds), and Purdue vs. St. John’s (both 11 seeds).
The first round of competition will take place on Friday and Saturday, with the second round of games on Sunday and Monday. The Final Four will be held on March 31 (the national semifinals) and April 2 (the national championship game) at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.