Women’s NCAA Tournament 2023: Final Four picks and predictions

The 2023 women’s NCAA tournament is in the bracket, the game schedule is set and a champion will be crowned at the Final Four in Dallas in just a few weeks.

The undefeated and defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks went into March Madness with a 38-game winning streak. ESPN Analytics gives the Gamecocks a 46.4% chance to win the title.

The UConn Huskies — who lost to the Gamecocks in the NCAA title game a year ago and are the No. 2 seed on the other side of the bracket this season — have the next best odds at 11.2%. The top-seeded Stanford Cardinal and Indiana Hoosiers both come in at 7.1%, and fellow No. 1-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies at 5.3%.

Brackets are open! Head on over to the Women’s Tournament Challenge and fill out your bracket now! Click here for more printable brackets.

We’ve already broken down the 68-team field by region. We have named the best players in brackets. Now, ESPN’s Charlie Creme, Alexa Filippo and MA Voepel assess the real championship contenders, whether any have a chance to dethrone South Carolina and join a handful of ESPN analysts in Final Four and championship predictions.

If South Carolina doesn’t run the table for its second consecutive title, which team will lift the championship trophy?

Sound: South Carolina has replaced the Tennessee Lady Volunteers as the best program in what is still a very challenging SEC, even in conference play throughout the year. To everyone outside the UConn fan base, the Huskies are the Michael Myers of women’s hoops: You can’t get rid of them because they keep appearing in an endless series of sequels. Stanford College Sports’ corporate law firm.

I don’t think anyone would stop the Gamecocks from repeating that; They’ve got a lot of good players, they play well together and coach Don Staley has done an excellent job of getting them to focus completely on the job at hand.

But if anyone is going to beat them, it could be Stanford in the national semifinals or UConn in the national championship game. That’s just based on the fact that those two teams played the Gamecocks just as closely as they did during the regular season: The Cardinal lost by five in overtime in November, and the Huskies lost by four in February. We cannot be positive that either Stanford or UConn will make it to the Final Four; This is especially the case with cardinals. But even if they do, the Cardinals and Huskies at least know from experience what it will take to beat the Gamecocks if they face off again.

Filippo: After South Carolina, I think it’s between Indiana and the Yukon. Despite losing two of their last three games, the Hoosiers have been the most consistent team not based in Columbia, strong on both ends of the floor and managing to produce both star power in Mackenzie Holmes and yet again Grace Berger has incredible balance with Sydney Parish. , Yarden Garzón, Sarah Scalia and Chloe Moore-McNeil. While Indiana’s lack of depth has been pointed out as a flaw, I can’t see that being a major deciding factor given everything else the Hoosiers have going for them. (And I’ll go into a little more detail about Huskies.)

Cream: Picking a No. 2 overall pick to knock off No. 1 isn’t particularly inventive, but I firmly believe that Indiana has the best chance to beat South Carolina. It will take the right night and the Gamecocks not playing at their peak, but if it happens Indiana has enough in Arsenal to go the distance. The Hoosiers move and shoot the ball well and have the balance and experience to at least take on South Carolina offensively if the two meet in the championship game.



Virginia Tech’s NCAA Tournament Preview

Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for Virginia Tech’s NCAA tournament chances.

Which No. 1 seed will be the first to lose?

Cream: While I like the matchup facing Stanford in the first three rounds of the Seattle 4 Regional, I do have some concerns about the Cardinals. They’ve had enough moments or entire games of bad offense — see: 47 points against USC or five points in the first quarter against Colorado — to wonder if Stanford can string together four good performances to reach the Final Four. . If the Cardinals reach the Elite Eight, can they overtake the second-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes?

Filippo: The Cardinals are clearly experienced in March and could turn things around in the coming weeks, but the way they finished the regular season and their recent offensive issues are worrying. and while i don’t think it is potentialThe fact that Virginia Tech hasn’t played in the post-season of the NCAA tournament in nearly 25 years makes me wonder if there’s ever a moment when the Hokies have an off night and the pressure catches up to them. They don’t have the easiest road ahead with possible matchups against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits or the USC Trojans and possibly against the Tennessee or Iowa State Cyclones.

Sound: As Alexa noted, Virginia Tech is the No. 1 seed by far the least experienced program when it comes to long NCAA tournament runs: South Carolina and Stanford won the last two titles and Indiana was in the Elite Eight two years ago. I went. Based on that, the Hokies seem to be the weakest. But they have also won 11 matches in a row and are playing with a lot of confidence.

Name a team that is grossly underrated.

Cream: While I’m picking UConn to come out of the Seattle 3, the Ohio State Buckeyes may be the team to crash the party. The No. 3 seed started the season 19–0 largely without Jesse Sheldon. Now he’s back and his young players, especially freshman Coty McMahon, have proven they are ready for the challenge in the Big Ten. Ohio State’s dominating style of play can get any team in trouble, especially if you haven’t seen it. The Louisville Cardinals struggled mightily with it earlier this season, and the LSU Tigers fell under pressure from Ohio State in last year’s second round.



UNC’s NCAA Tournament Preview

Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for North Carolina’s NCAA tournament chances.

Filippo: Ohio State is a dangerous 3-seed for all the reasons Charlie mentioned, but I don’t believe the Buckeyes will have a potential second round matchup against them 6-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. This should not happen at the start of the tournament!

Sound: I wouldn’t say that No. 5 seed Iowa State was seeded too low. However, in the women’s section, the difference between the 4th and 5th-seeds is much larger as the top four in each region get to host. The selection committee apparently made its top-16 decisions before the Big 12 Tournament title game is played on Sunday. The committee did not take into account that the Cyclones defeated the Texas Longhorns—as well as fellow NCAA Tournament teams—the Baylor Bears in the quarterfinals and the Oklahoma Sooners in the semifinals by double digits.

If there’s one consistent inconsistency about the committee all these years, it’s how much they contradict themselves on how important conference tournaments are. They also do this in the same section of the bracket, highlighting one team’s conference tournament success while essentially dismissing another team’s success.



UConn’s NCAA Tournament Preview

Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for UConn’s NCAA tournament chances.

Other than the No. 1 seed, which team has the best chance to win it all?

Filippo: Yukon. The Huskies have had a rough season but it has forced them to come together more than ever towards their common goal of winning a championship. They have turned things around after their disappointing February and are getting the best out of Dorka Juhas and Aaliyah Edwards, and strong post play has not been a strength of the last few tournaments. With experience in high-pressure situations, and Azzi Fad’s potential superiority, I’m picking UConn as the no. The 1-seed that has the best shot at winning it all – and in fact, the second-favorite to cut the net.

Sound: A program that has 11 NCAA titles and has been in the Final Four every year since 2008 will remain in danger of winning it all unless some major changes happen. But since Charlie and Alexa have covered the Yukon, let’s look at Iowa.

The Hawkeyes could be an offensive powerhouse like few teams we’ll ever see in the tournament. And while they are a better defensive team this season, in terms of getting stops when they really need them, it’s still about scoring for them. Can their offense lead them to a title? That would be difficult; UConn is still the No. 2 seed most likely to prevail. But if the Hawkeyes do it, it will be with a truly exciting brand of basketball.



Iowa’s NCAA Tournament Preview

Charlie Cream breaks down his forecast for Iowa’s NCAA tournament chances.

Are we shorting the other No. 2 seeds? The Maryland Terrapins are the previous national champions, but that’s 17 years in the rearview mirror. Interestingly enough, the year the Terps won it all – 2006 – they beat the Utah Utes, the year’s other No. 2 seed, in the Elite Eight. Maryland and Utah could both be Elite Eight teams this year, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be in Dallas.

Cream: We still don’t know exactly what the Yukon will look like with the full return of the fad. He returned to the lineup in the Big East Tournament, but did not produce much. It may not be the best indicator considering the timing. If this is anything like the version of the Huskies that beat Texas, the NC State Wolfpack, the Duke Blue Devils and Iowa in succession in November, UConn is a Final Four team. Without Fudd, the Huskies remain competitive with South Carolina in February, so they’re another team that could potentially elevate heavy favorites.

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LSU’s NCAA Tournament Preview

Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for LSU’s NCAA Tournament chances.

Andrea Adelson: South Carolina (champion), LSU, UConn, Iowa

Charlie Cream: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Yukon, Iowa

Aja Alison: South Carolina (champ), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa

Kelly Gramlich: South Carolina (champ), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa

Doug Kezirian: South Carolina (champ), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa

Kevin Pelton: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Yukon, Iowa

Alexa Filippo: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Yukon, Iowa

Roy Philpott: South Carolina (champ), Utah, Virginia Tech, Iowa

Steffi Sorensen: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Yukon, Iowa

Christy Thomaskutty: South Carolina (champ), Indiana, UConn, Stanford

MA Voepel: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Yukon, Iowa

Stephanie White: South Carolina (champ), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa

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