The Women’s NCAA Tournament is finally here. In turn, it’s time to begin to look at each region to see which teams are most likely to make a run at a national title.
Mississippi State is one of the teams in the country this season. Head coach Vic Schaefer has been to the national championship game two years in a row. Unfortunately, they have lost those title games. Could this year be a different story?
In due time, fans and pundits will find out if this is the Bulldogs’ year to take home the championship. Ultimately, they will have to go through rough terrain to reach the national championship game. Teams like South Dakota, Miami, and Oregon will all stand in their way..
Portland Regional Winner: Oregon
This is the year for Kelly Graves to make it to the Final Four. The Oregon Lady Ducks have been knocking on the door of the Final Four for some time now. Sooner or later, this team was going to go through the door. Could this year be the year?
Instantly, you think about the one thing Oregon has that can neutralize All-American Teaira McCowan. Ruthy Hebard was stellar in containing McCowan when the two teams played back on December 18. The 6-foot-7 center was held to 5 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. The Ducks have stellar players in Hebard and Pac-12 Player of the Year Sabrina Ionescu. By all means, Oregon has the talent to make to the Final Four this year. On the whole, they will be up for the task in winning this region and making the Final Four.
There are two key matchups in the Portland Region that, in any event, should keep fans intrigued in who wins.
#5 Arizona State vs #12 UCF
UCF was not going get a high seed in the Women’s NCAA Tournament. Nonetheless, due to the strength of the AAC, the Golden Knights were the recipient of the 12-seed. Although they do not have a key victory this season, UCF is still a good team. Regardless of seed, head coach Katie Abraham-Henderson has UCF playing an all-in, defensive-minded style of basketball. In fact, they will be playing a mirror copy of themselves in Arizona State.
The Sun Devils were the best defensive team in the Pac-12, allowing 57.4 points per game. Charli Turner-Thorne has this team ready for the NCAA Tournament. Coupled with the play of Kianna Ibis, look for the Sun Devils to make this game competitive with UCF.
#7 Texas vs #10 Indiana
Indiana was one of The Debatable 8 that the committee was considering for the last spots in the tournament. Ultimately, the Hoosiers got in and are now tasked with defeating a tough Texas Longhorns team. Ali Patberg, Jaelynn Penn and Breanna Wise are looking to help push Indiana on to the next round. The All-Big Ten honorees will be need to have great performances to pull off the upset.
Texas will have to find a way to keep their offense going. The Longhorns were third in the Big 12 in field goal percentage. One thing they cannot do, unfortunately, is rely on 3-pointers. Indiana was the best 3-point field goal defending teams in the Big Ten. If Texas, with the play of Sug Sutton and Joyner Holmes, keep the pace where they want it, the Longhorns will advance to the next round.
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