No. 1 seeds have the best roads in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and a chance for a Final Four appearance. But there are teams below them that could still go to Dallas.
That group is headed by Iowa and UConn, two No. 2 seeds that were in contention for the top-seed line. Committee chair Lisa Peterson said the 12-person group is leaning toward Stanford for the final No. 1 seed, thanks to its 20-5 record against teams ranked in the Net Top 100. Iowa is 18-5 in the category and UConn is 19-. 5. How close are these top teams and how competitive will March Madness be.
One notable team that is not on this list is Maryland. The Terps are the No. 2 seed, but pulled the field with South Carolina.
Iowa (Seattle 4 | 2 seed)
26-6, 18-3 Big Ten | net 6 | vs. Net Top 25: 6-4 | SOS: 12
Caitlin Clarke is on a mission, and she’s bringing Hawkeye’s roaring fans with her. Clark, whose sentiment and incessant calls for fan noise escalated in March, again averaged 27 points per game (second in Division I) and led the nation for the second year in a row with 8.3 assists. The triple-double threat is leading an Iowa offense whose production tops anyone at a Division I-best 87.5 points per game.
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Questions surrounding Iowa remain whether the point guard alongside him can hit his open shots — which didn’t happen in that blowout loss to Maryland, but did in the Big Ten title game — and if the team is good enough. Can play defense. They allow an average of 71.3 points a game, which is nearly last in the nation. Iowa is also motivated after Creighton made an early exit from the 2022 tournament, a poor matchup for their defense.
The Hawkeyes may face Duke, the best defensive team in the country, but the Blue Devils have struggled offensively entering the tournament. His last three games were his lowest-scoring games of the season, averaging 41 points over that span. At the top of their bracket are two more strong defensive teams in No. 4 Texas and No. 5 Louisville.
If it is a chalk field and Iowa runs into Stanford in the regional finals, the Hawkeyes’ offense is far more potent and runs at a higher pace. The Cardinals don’t have the numbers or the steal rate that often leads to wins in tight games, though his blocks (7 BPG) could cause problems for Clark going into the paint. Stanford’s issues have surfaced offensively through the season and that cannot be countered against the inevitable points Clark will continue to score.
UConn (Seattle 3 | 2 seed)
28-5, 20-2 Big East | net 2 | vs. Net Top 25: 10-3 | SOS: 2
A 14-year Final Four streak is at stake, but at the same time, it’s UConn. It’s hard to pick against the Huskies when they’ve shown for over a decade that they can run deep. And keeping them out of the Final Four is even more difficult considering they were able to do so last season without Paige Buchers for most of the season and missing key scoring pieces.
Big East coaches who faced UConn in the conference tournament said it was the “UConn of March” they are used to seeing. Head coach Geno Auriemma, who focused his team’s efforts and drills on the Blast the week before, said the month brought “a different vibe to our team.”
“I think what was different today was that it’s March and it’s not any other month in the year,” UConn point guard Nika Muhl said after the Big East semifinal win over Marquette, which gave UConn its regular season upset. Did. “We are a different team in March. We value that a lot.
The biggest reason the Huskies placed last weekend is Azie Fad, the standout scorer who returned from a knee injury to play in the conference tournament. He fueled the Huskies’ opening non-conference win and dropped 32 points in back-to-back games against Texas and NC State. Without his standard production, the Huskies are in serious trouble.
The first thing working against UConn in the bracket is the rarity of playing a regional finals game outside their backyard. No. 3 Ohio State, which UConn will meet in the Sweet 16, ranks eighth in points per game (80.8), scoring an average of five more than UConn. The Huskies have better defensive numbers—the Big Ten overall is one of the highest-scoring conferences in the nation—but Ohio State ranks eighth in steals per game (11.4), swiping it nearly double UConn’s time. The Buckeyes forced nearly 20 per game.
Virginia Tech is the No. 1 seed in that region and came out strong at the end of the season. UConn has the advantage of experience and the weight of another losing streak on their backs.
It wouldn’t be March without some surprising finales and it looks like this season is more likely to happen. Here are some we like:
No. 6-seeded Creighton vs. No. 11 Illinois/Mississippi State – It’s a tough situation for Illinois to get out of the first four. This Fighting Illini team went 7-20 last season and a net rating movement of +10 from 20-10 under first year head coach Shauna Green. If the Fighting Irish are without point guard Olivia Miles, look for either of those teams to upset No. 3 Notre Dame in the second round.
No. 5 Washington State vs. No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast – FGCU has the experience to be a tournament star and to trouble shooters.
No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 UNLV – UNLV’s Desi-Rae Young is one of the best scorers in the country. The teams are nearly even on paper, with Michigan holding the edge by playing in a tough conference.
No. 7 NC State vs. No. 10 Princeton Tigers are tournament regulars from Ivy, so the stage won’t bother them. NC State has been up and down after losing their talent to the WNBA and graduation.
No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 13 St. Louis — This is far from a trendy upset pick, but St. Louis is led by a veteran NCAA coach in Rebecca Tillett. Tillett is one year removed from leading Longwood to its first NCAA tournament win in program history and St. Louis is on a hot streak, upsetting the A-10 No. 1 seed for the conference title .
No. 12 Drake vs. No. 5 Louisville – Hailey Van Lith is the key to Louisville and the day she gets a cold, there are problems. If this happens, Drake could be upset.
No. 6 Colorado vs. No. 11 Middle Tennessee – Middle Tennessee was ranked in the AP Poll this season and has better offensive and defensive numbers than Colorado. If it is closer, the Blue Raiders hit free throws at a 78.4% clip to Colorado’s 69% clip and earn more of their points from beyond the arc.