2023 NCAAW Event: South Carolina Gamecocks face many challengers

The 2023 NCAA Event is right here! To view the total bracket click on here. To take a look at our full evaluation, learn on.

The nationwide championship race is extensive open for my part. I’ve seen too lots of the prime groups endure too many dangerous losses and/or shut calls. Even undefeated No. 1 total seed South Carolina was examined by No. 11 seed Mississippi State, No. 10 seed Alabama and No. 10 seed Georgia, and went to additional time in opposition to No. 8 seed Ole Miss. Let’s begin our breakdown with a have a look at South Carolina’s area.

Greenville 1 Area

South Carolina’s No. 2 seed is Maryland, a staff that turned heads with a 36-point win over No. 3 seed Ohio State and a 28-point win over No. 2 seed Iowa but additionally has losses to non-tournament groups in Nebraska and DePaul. Maryland was arguably the most well liked staff within the nation down the stretch of the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons and one of many hottest groups late this common season earlier than shedding to Iowa within the Big Ten Tournament semifinals and lacking out on a No. 1 seed. These early-season losses to Nebraska and DePaul are undoubtedly regarding although as is the truth that in 2020-21, additionally as a No. 2 seed, the Terps suffered a disappointing loss to No. 6 seed Texas that prevented them from making the Candy Sixteen and ruined their late-season sizzling streak.

This yr’s Maryland staff seems very totally different from the 2020-21 staff, however a program’s lack of ability to step up within the large moments can hang-out even a brand new set of gamers; simply ask the Boston Red Sox. The addition of Abby Meyers may make a distinction although. The Princeton switch who was a freshman in 2017-18 supplies the management and composure the Terps have to recover from the hump and into at the least the Elite Eight. She’s not the tallest participant on the planet although (6’0”), and Maryland is severely missing a participant who can take over a recreation with their dimension inside. It spelled doom of their 25-point loss to South Carolina on Nov. 11.

The Terps had been outrebounded 55-32 in that one, a recreation wherein they had been with out 6-foot-3 Diamond Miller, whose size can actually impression video games, however not in a dominant means within the publish, which is problematic in opposition to Gamecocks Aliyah Boston (6’5”) and Kamilla Cardoso (6’7”). All the opposite gamers in Maryland’s rotation are shorter than 6-foot-3. South Carolina is a very dangerous matchup for the Terps, however the Terps have improved because the Nov. 11 assembly. With Miller within the lineup, they are able to preserve it shut and with Meyers they could have the composure to win a detailed recreation.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 24 Womens Maryland at Ohio State

Abby Meyers
Photograph by Ben Hsu/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Photographs

To face South Carolina, Maryland might must get previous No. 3 seed Notre Dame, which is desperately hoping for a wholesome Olivia Miles, who suffered a knee damage on Feb. 26. If Miles is wholesome, I believe the Irish can contend for a nationwide championship, although they might nonetheless be weakened by the absence of Dara Mabrey on account of a season-ending ACL damage. A Maryland win that made the Terps look legit early on got here on a Miller buzzer-beater in South Bend. It could possibly be an exhilarating rematch, however the Irish had been final seen being blown out 64-38 by No. 5 seed Louisville with out Miles.

The No. 4 seed on this area, UCLA, challenged South Carolina on Nov. 29, however went on to lose to non-tournament staff Oregon State and solely beat non-tournament staff Washington by eight. I’ve little or no religion within the Pac-12 seeing as all the highest groups had been challenged by the weaker groups within the convention. No. 5 seed Oklahoma sports activities a 124-78 to Utah, albeit a staff that went on earn a No. 2 seed. Will probably be attention-grabbing to see if the Madi Williams- and Taylor Robertson-led Sooners will lastly be capable of make a Candy Sixteen.

No. 6 seed Creighton has confronted struggles at occasions this season after beginning the season ranked twenty first. However why ought to they be apprehensive once they made the Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed final yr? No. 7 seed Arizona suffered a shock to its system early when it misplaced 77-50 to non-tournament staff Kansas on Dec. 8, but it surely regarded very spectacular 10 days later in a 75-54 victory over fellow No. 7 seed Baylor. That they had ups and downs the remainder of the season, like a lot of the Pac-12.

No. 8 seed South Florida is making its third straight match look and sports activities a win over No. 4 seed Texas and an additional time loss to No. 3 seed Ohio State. No. 9 seed Marquette off to begin when it made the Battle 4 Atlantis championship recreation, which it misplaced to UCLA.

Greenville 2 Area

What an announcement it’s for Indiana to be the No. 1 seed on this bracket (the No. 2 total seed). This system has by no means been to a Last 4, however is scripting a brand new chapter as a nationwide energy. The Hoosiers have the large six of Mackenzie Holmes, Grace Berger, Sydney Parrish, Yarden Garzon, Sara Scalia and Chloe Moore-McNeil. Holmes has taken her stardom to a complete new stage this yr, whereas the 3-point capturing of Parrish, Garzon and Scalia will probably be one thing to look out for.

Iowa v Indiana

Mackenzie Holmes (dealing with) and Sydney Parrish
Photograph by Andy Lyons/Getty Photographs

If Indiana is the brand new child on the block, No. 2 seed Utah is the model new child on the block among the many nationwide powers. The Utes had been a No. 7 seed final yr and hadn’t made the match since 2011 earlier than that. Alissa Pili might want to come up large if Utah is to make a deep run. The Utes are a Pac-12 staff that prevented any dangerous losses, with their 4 defeats coming to No. 6 seed Colorado, No. 1 seed Stanford, Arizona and No. 5 seed Washington State.

LSU didn’t get a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, however will definitely be a harmful No. 3 seed. Angel Reese can pile on the factors and rack up the rebounds in addition to anybody within the nation, and Alexis Morris can carry the staff on her shoulders if Reese occurs to have an off recreation. I can see No. 4 seed Villanova giving Indiana issues in a possible Candy Sixteen matchup. Maddy Siegrist’s singular greatness is at all times one thing to be careful for and Lucy Olsen has grow to be an apt Robin.

No. 5 seed Washington State improved its seeding with its Pac-12 Tournament championship run as a No. 7 seed. I’ve been ready for the Cougars to have this type of success ever since Charlisse Leger-Walker’s freshman season of 2020-21, however they settled for an 8/9 look in each of the final two tournaments, shedding each video games. They’ve had some suspect moments this yr as nicely and had been in fact underdogs coming into the Pac-12 Event, however may be a staff to look out for.

No. 6 seed Michigan has the possibility to point out simply how robust the Large Ten is by making a deep run. I believe Leigha Brown, Emily Kiser, Laila Phelia and firm are up for the duty and LSU is susceptible to a second-round upset seeing because it’s had shut calls in opposition to non-tournament groups in Arkansas and Texas A&M. No. 7 seed NC State was No. 10 within the preseason and ought to be a tricky out.

No. 8 seed Oklahoma State has wins over Texas and No. 5 seed Iowa State, plus another high quality wins. Naomie Alnatas and Taylen Collins had been spectacular within the Cowgirls’ Large 12 quarterfinal win over No. 10 seed West Virginia. No. 9 seed Miami ought to make the 8/9 recreation on this area shut although. Haley Cavinder and Future Hardin make the Hurricanes a harmful staff.

Seattle 3 Area

I actually felt firstly of the season that Virginia Tech had the expertise on paper to compete for a nationwide championship. And what a feel-good story the Hokies have been in dwelling as much as these expectations. Star Maryland switch Ashley Owusu has been a non-factor on account of head coach Kenny Brooks not wanting to mess with the team’s chemistry after Owusu returned from a damaged pinkie. However the different big-name switch, Taylor Soule, has made a big effect and is lastly headed to her first Large Dance after 4 years of admirable service at Boston School. The Eagles would have made the 2019-20 match in accordance with our hypothetical bracket and had been one of many first groups out final yr.

Louisville v Virginia Tech

Taylor Soule talks to teammate Elizabeth Kitley.
Photograph by Grant Halverson/Getty Photographs

It’s type of inexplicable how No. 2 seed UConn endured shut calls to very weak groups later within the season when the gamers the Huskies had filling in for Azzi Fudd demonstrated how gifted they had been earlier within the season. Now, with Fudd again, the Huskies are hitting their stride and I believe they’re extraordinarily harmful with Aaliyah Edwards, Lou Lopez Sénéchal Dorka Juhász, Aubrey Griffin and Nika Mühl backing her up. I like the whole lot about Lopez Sénéchal’s offensive recreation and Mühl is likely one of the finest distributors UConn has ever seen, and that’s in fact saying one thing.

No. 3 seed Ohio State might derail UConn’s championship aspirations although and symbolize this area within the Last 4. The Buckeyes are loaded; even when Jacy Sheldon isn’t a significant factor, they might make a deep run. Cotie McMahon is as powerful as they arrive and Taylor Mikesell, Taylor Thierry and Rebeka Mikulášiková are going to make impacts as nicely. No. 4 seed Tennessee was No. 5 within the preseason and has top-of-the-line star duos within the nation in Rickea Jackson and Jordan Horston.

No. 5 seed Iowa State is coming off a Large 12 Event championship and Ashley Joens is on a mission. She has but to make it to the Elite Eight regardless of excessive expectations surrounding the Cyclone program in recent times. Iowa State is acquainted with March heartbreak and has handled disappointment this yr, falling from No. 8 within the preseason to a No. 5 seed. Nevertheless it beat Texas within the Large 12 championship recreation and has momentum.

No. 6 seed North Carolina bounced again from an 0-3 begin to its ACC season by profitable eight in a row. The Tar Heels have taken the Hokies right down to the wire twice; what an attention-grabbing NCAA Event rematch that will be. No. 7 seed Baylor is trying to erase the reminiscence of final yr’s second-round loss as a No. 2 seed. Can the Bears upset a No. 2 seed this yr and advance to the Candy Sixteen? With Sarah Andrews, Darianna Littlepage-Buggs and Caitlin Bickle main the way in which, possibly they’ll.

No. 8 seed USC has a win over No. 1 seed Stanford, but additionally losses to non-tournament groups in Oregon, California and Oregon State. No. 9 seed South Dakota State entered the season ranked twenty third.

Seattle 4 Area

Right here is the place issues received controversial as Stanford earned the No. 1 seed and Iowa settled for the No. 2 seed. Stanford misplaced within the Pac-12 Event semifinals and was ranked fifth by The Related Press. The Hawkeyes received the most effective convention within the nation’s match and had been ranked second by The AP.

The Cardinal have a variety of expertise on paper with Haley Jones, Cameron Brink and firm, however have losses to USC and Washington and shut calls in opposition to Cal, Oregon State, Oregon and Washington. Will these losses/shut calls flip right into a loss to a No. 8 or No. 9 seed within the match? Maybe not. Tara VanDerveer’s crew has the expertise of profitable a nationwide championship two years in the past and goes to be powerful to beat in any match recreation. However Stanford may not blow groups away like a typical No. 1 seed would.

The No. 8 seed on this area, Ole Miss, took South Carolina to additional time. The No. 9 seed, Gonzaga, was ranked fairly excessive at occasions this season (and No. 16 final week), however didn’t win a mid-major convention match and misplaced to non-tournament staff Santa Clara within the common season. The Bulldogs additionally misplaced to Stanford, 84-63 on Dec. 4.

The Hawkeyes are exhibiting that they’re much extra than simply Caitlin Clark. Clark herself is the most effective participant within the nation and is backed up by Monika Czinano, McKenna Warnock and Kate Martin. Plus, Gabbie Marshall is red-hot from past the arc as of late. Iowa break up with Indiana and Maryland, the 2 different High 2 seeds from the Large Ten, within the common season. The Hawkeyes then avenged their 28-point loss in School Park with an 89-84 victory over the Terps within the Large Ten Event semifinals earlier than crushing Ohio State 105-73 within the championship recreation. Beating these two groups, plus Indiana on a buzzer-beater three from Clark of their regular-season finale, isn’t any joke. Depend Iowa in as a staff that may compete for a nationwide championship.

Ohio State v Iowa

Caitlin Clark (with ball)
Photograph by David Berding/Getty Photographs

No. 3 seed Duke is thought for its protection; its offense isn’t a problem as lengthy its profitable video games, however it may be fairly embarrassing when the Blue Devils lose and solely put up 45 (Feb. 16), 41 (Feb. 26) or 37 (March 4) factors. Granted, two of these losses got here to Virginia Tech and the opposite got here to UNC — each good groups, however the Blue Devils want to seek out extra dependable offense. No. 4 seed Texas might use some extra dependable offense as nicely. The Longhorns didn’t impress within the Large 12 Event, struggling early in opposition to non-tournament staff Kansas State, beating Oklahoma State by simply seven and shedding to Iowa State.

Texas was No. 3 within the preseason earlier than falling far after which rising once more. It’ll host the primary and second rounds, which is a constructive all issues thought of. Preseason-No. 7 Louisville, the No. 5 seed on this area, might await within the second spherical, which implies one in every of these groups with such excessive expectations goes house earlier than the Candy Sixteen, if not each. The Cardinals have the expertise of stepping up within the large moments, as they made the Last 4 final yr. So they are going to be harmful.

No. 6 seed Colorado is led by Quay Miller’s 13.2 factors and eight.5 rebounds per recreation and Jaylyn Sherrod’s 11.2 factors, 5 assists and a couple of.5 steals. The Buffaloes have a loss to non-tournament staff Texas Tech, however took Stanford to double additional time. Identical to VA Tech/UNC in Seattle 3, Stanford/Colorado could be an intriguing 1/6 rematch.

No. 7 seed Florida State is led by top-of-the-line scorers within the nation in freshman Ta’Niya Latson. The Seminoles are one more harmful staff on this yr’s discipline.