Selecting teams in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament could be a new twist on a familiar tradition for some fans who only tune in when March dawns. Know this: it’s not as simple as choosing UConn to go completely.
Women’s basketball brackets are in some ways a little easier to predict than the men’s tournament because of the strength of the teams at the top. Yet the exercise presents new challenges to fans accustomed to a different set of names than leading contestants. Kentucky, for example, is not in the men’s tournament this year, but the women’s team is chasing a national title.
Here are some things to keep in mind when completing a bracket for the women’s tournament:
Approach low seeds with extreme caution.
It is not the case that the no. 16-seed Utah Valley (as opposed to the No. 1 overall seed Stanford) and the no. 15-seed Troy (against the No. 2 seed Texas A&M) did not succeed at all. But even more than in the men’s tournament, the teams take the number 13 and higher out of the first round.
The last time this happened was in 2012, when no. 13 Marist defeated number 4 in Georgia. (Interestingly enough, of the nine wins that have been selected by 13 selected teams in the NCAA Women’s Tournament, three belong to Marist, who was selected number 15 this year. Marist plays the second selected Louisville in the first round.)
Unfortunately, a better demand for lower seeds is rather than who can get an upset, who can keep a match with one of the teams at the top.
The statistics outside of wins and losses can help.
Many of the teams in the tournament deserve a bid not because of the history of their school, but because they have an exceptional star or a distinctive strength.
Nr. 10 in Central Florida, for example, has a stifling defense that keeps opponents against a Division I low 49.9 points per game. Will that be enough to pick up Northwest West, a number 7 seed, which has the seventh most away games per game in the country, according to Haar Hoop Stats? Could Kierstan Bell, No. 11-ranked Florida Coast of Florida, and Micaela Kelly of Central Michigan, No. 12, two of the top ten scorers in the country, carry their teams to the second round?
Teams that want to win behind their distinctive feature also apply to the rounds of 16 and 8: Maryland, the second seeded, has a red-hot offense, the most productive in the country with 91.3 points per game. It competes for the same spot in the Final Four as the No. 1 seeded South Carolina, the champion of the Southeastern Conference.
The numbers, of course, are not everything, but it can be a good starting point.
Look at the injury reports.
On the women’s side of the sport, injuries (and almost everything else) are not that easy to learn quickly, so it’s worth checking to see if the team’s team is at full strength before choosing them for the whole to go way. South Carolina’s LeLe Grissett, the Gamecocks’ one-time senior and a major contributor to the bank, is out for the tournament with a lower leg injury; The 6th seeded Oregon All-Pac 12-year-old point guard, Te-Hina Paopao, is also not expected to play due to a foot injury. But it’s worth considering that Notre Dame won the 2018 title four players out due to ligament tears.
Take some risks, but look forward to the playoffs.
Over the past few weeks, the idea that this field is the most open in years has become a popular talking point in the women’s college basketball community – and with good reason.
North Carolina’s No. 1 seed surprised many and became a testament to what many analysts have consistently said: that any of the top eight teams, the No. 1 and No. 2 seed, have a good chance of winning the title.
So yes, pick some upset in the first and second rounds, but really concentrate your energy on the 8th and beyond.