Count on the Girls’s Event to Have Loads of Drama

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By Calvin S. Nelson

There was no query concerning the No. 1 total seed for the ladies’s match. (Who else however the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks?) However loads of bracket drama was in retailer past that on Choice Sunday.

Let’s begin with the second regional in Albany. There on the high, you may have the one-seed Iowa Hawkeyes, two-seed UCLA Bruins and three-seed LSU Tigers. That’s each groups from final 12 months’s nationwide championship sport—every has since graduated a few of its expertise, sure, however they’ve each proven a transparent capacity to maneuver past these key losses—bookending a program that had its personal case for a high seed for many of the 12 months in UCLA. Then you may have the four-seed Kansas State Wildcats, who delivered the primary lack of the season to Iowa, and the five-seed Colorado Buffaloes, who delivered the primary lack of the season to LSU. Multi function area! That’s an awfully dense focus of expertise. For those who have been anticipating Caitlin Clark & Co. to return to the Ultimate 4 or Angel Reese to run it again with LSU or Lauren Betts to make a deep run with UCLA? You’ll be able to solely decide one. It’s going to be a tricky highway out of this regional.

Clark & Co. earned a No. 1 seed after profitable the Huge Ten match, however the Hawkeyes’ area gained’t be a simple one with defending champ LSU and two-seed UCLA within the combine. 

Julia Hansen/Iowa Metropolis Press-Citizen/USA TODAY NETWORK

“It simply ended up understanding that manner based mostly on the place you’ll be able to put groups,” mentioned committee chair Lisa Peterson. “For those who take a look at the general steadiness of the completely different areas, there wasn’t a drastic distinction. However I can utterly see the place these first 4 [seeds in Albany 2], it appears to be like that manner.”

Then take a look at the fourth regional in Portland. Three of the 4 No. 1 seeds within the bracket have been kind of apparent: South Carolina had been unquestionable for weeks in Albany 1, Iowa sealed its spot by profitable the Huge Ten match for Albany 2, and the USC Trojans did the identical with the Pac-12 match for Portland 3. However that fourth one in Portland? It had as soon as appeared seemingly it could belong to the Stanford Cardinal. However that was thrown into doubt with a convention match loss to USC. There was a case to be made that the Pac-12 was robust sufficient this 12 months to advantage two No. 1 seeds. However there was stiff competitors right here from the Texas Longhorns, who’d made a outstanding run by way of the Huge 12, even with out their injured level guard Rori Harmon.

The committee in the end gave Texas that final No. 1 seed and Stanford the corresponding No. 2.

“This was one of the extremely debated issues we did,” Peterson mentioned. “You undoubtedly need to be sure you get that one-line proper.”

It largely got here right down to latest play, together with their respective convention tournaments, she mentioned. Texas is 9–1 in its final 10 video games; Stanford is 8–2. Texas gained the Huge 12 match by beating three NCAA match groups; Stanford fell within the Pac-12 match finals and beat just one NCAA match staff. However the dialog was so shut that it was like “attempting to slide a chunk of paper between groups,” Peterson mentioned.

Daybreak Staley fines herself in a well-recognized place because the Gamecocks enter the ladies’s match as an undefeated one-seed. 

Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports activities

Listed below are some extra takeaways from Choice Sunday:

  • South Carolina may face opponents it has already performed this season in each the primary and second rounds. The Gamecocks confronted the 16-seed Presbyterian Blue Hose in December and the eight-seed North Carolina Tar Heels in November. (They gained the previous by 70—sure, 70, seven-zero, profitable so comfortably it virtually appeared uncomfortable—however did face a little bit of a problem from UNC.) It’s uncommon to see a number of potential repeat opponents for a staff so early. However, after all, there’s loads that’s uncommon about these loaded, balanced Gamecocks. They’re about as shut of a lock for the Ultimate 4 as you may get.
  • We have now two bids from the Ivy League! The nine-seed Princeton Tigers had an computerized bid due to profitable the convention match. No shock there: Princeton has been ranked all through the season and has pulled off first-round tourney upsets in every of the final two years. However the one Ivy League staff to beat Princeton this common season was … the Columbia Lions. That they had a match case of their very own. They’d in the end gone 23–6 after in search of out a reasonably robust non-conference schedule; Columbia coach Megan Griffith made an impassioned plea to the committee in a press convention this weekend. They agreed together with her. “Nice common season,” Peterson mentioned. “They tried to problem themselves exterior of the league, and simply actually felt like they deserved to be within the match.” Will probably be the primary NCAA tourney look for the Lions. They’ll be a 12-seed with a first-four play-in sport towards the Vanderbilt Commodores.
  • The 2-seed Notre Dame Preventing Irish dropped some unlucky information through the bracket reveal. Senior ahead Kylee Watson introduced that she tore her ACL when she injured her knee final week within the semifinals of the ACC match. Watson had began each sport for the Irish this 12 months earlier than she bought damage and represents an enormous loss for this roster. Her numbers will not be overwhelming—six factors and 5 rebounds per sport—however she provides dimension, grit and a key defensive presence. That’s a tough blow for the Irish—particularly provided that it’s the second consecutive season during which they’ve needed to announce an damage proper earlier than the match.
  • The previous few years have been full of dialogue concerning the elevated parity within the ladies’s sport. That now feels much less like a development and easily extra like a brand new norm. “What we have been saying all 12 months is that ladies’s faculty basketball, there’s a lot parity taking place,” Peterson mentioned. “It makes it actually thrilling for the sport … Now it would not matter in case you do not go to the 4 faculties that you just all the time heard of again within the ’80s and ’90s, you can go to any college and you may win a nationwide championship.” That is solely the third 12 months the NCAA has allowed the ladies’s match to make use of the branding of “March Insanity.” Count on it to show—once more—that it greater than deserves the title.

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