Regardless if your team was eliminated this weekend, or they are moving on, the first weekend of the Women’s NCAA Tournament was full of great basketball. From upsets to convincing wins, we were able to see it through our phones, computers or televisions.
With two rounds in books, it’s time to review what’s already happened.
Numerous close games
Teams came into the NCAA Tournament feeling hot after great performances in the conference tournaments. These programs were not looking to go home early in the Big Dance.
For instance, take the number two-seed Iowa versus the number 15-seed Mercer. Going into this game, the Hawkeyes were heavily favored to win by double digits. Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes did not favor the opponent in Mercer. The Bears were coming into the tournament on a 17-game winning streak.
“We personally like our seed. We didn’t love our opponent,” head coach Lisa Bluder stated after the game. “We played against somebody that was much more difficult than a 15 seed. Everybody can recognize and understand that.”
This is true: The Mercer Bears are unlike your typical 15 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Mercer is one of the more sound basketball teams in the country. Along with the 17-game winning streak before the loss, the Bears had a turnover margin of +3.8.
They were able to cause teams into mistakes and take advantage of it. In the game against Iowa, Mercer was on the other end of the turnover battle. It was the clash inside that assisted Mercer in hanging around. The Bears had 12 offensive rebounds in that contest, which lead to extra possessions to score.
It was not just this game that was close. Look at these scores.
- Florida State 70 – Bucknell 67
- Missouri 77 – Drake 76
- Kentucky 82 – Princeton 77
- Marquette 58 – Rice 54 (overtime)
- Michigan State 88 – Central Michigan 87
The close margins also carried over into the second round, as Texas A&M was able to squeak by Marquette 78-76.
The first and second round was great this weekend. If these are signs, then the rest of the tournament should be no different.
Here comes Missouri State
The Missouri State Lady Bears are the only double-digit seed left in the tournament. The first two rounds saw them upset both DePaul and Iowa State. The Lady Bears were able to put on great displays in the opening two rounds.
Against DePaul, Missouri State shot the ball lights out from beyond the arc. As a team, the Lady Bears shot 55% from 3-point range. Along with the 3-point shooting, Missouri State was able to hold DePaul to one possession on offense.
The Lady Bears were able to get key defensive stops and corral the rebounds. Missouri State won the rebound battle by 11. Due to these reasons, the Missouri State Lady Bears upset the DePaul Blue Demons. Now for the game against Iowa State, the 3-point shot was a definitive weapon in this game. Missouri State also caused the Cyclones into mistakes. Iowa State lost the turnover margin by 3, 13-10. Plus, Missouri State was able to maintain the lead throughout the game. Iowa State did not have a lead in the game after the 1:11 mark in the first quarter.
“Wow. That was amazing,” declared Missouri State head coach Kellie Harper after the game. Harper, a former Tennessee Lady Vol player, won three national championships under head coach Pat Summitt. “We did it our way. This is a dream come true.”
Importantly, this is Missouri State’s first appearance in the Sweet 16 since 2001.
This was a great weekend for Pac-12 women’s basketball.
The conference has five of its six teams going to the Sweet 16. Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona State and Stanford are all moving on to the Round of 16. This is the second time in three years that the Pac-12 has five teams in the Sweet 16.
Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer recognizes how great of an accomplishment this is.
“For five teams to be in the Sweet 16 is a great statement about our leage,” VanDerveer noted to Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press. “Congrats to UCLA and Oregon State. That’s awesome.”
Besides the Pac-12 having five teams, only two other conferences have multiple teams in the Sweet 16. The SEC and ACC both have three teams in the next round. After that, five conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, American, Missouri Valley, and Summit) have one team each in the Sweet 16.
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