Chalk dominates Day 1 as SEC goes 5-0

Chalk dominated the vast majority of opening day of the 2023 ladies’s NCAA match, with the SEC shining brightest because of a 5-0 document on Friday.

No. 1 general seed South Carolina dealt with Norfolk State, pulling inside 5 wins of an undefeated season and back-to-back nationwide titles, whereas 3-seed LSU took care of enterprise versus Hawaii.

What was much less apparent heading into March was how the middle-of-the-pack SEC groups would fare. But No. 8 seed Ole Miss, Tenth-seeded Georgia and 11-seed Mississippi State — which grew to become the primary First Four crew to make it to the second spherical — all superior.

It has been a harder week for the ACC, as three star gamers — Florida State’s Ta’Niya Latson, NC State’s Diamond Johnson and Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles — had been dominated out both for your entire match or, in Johnson’s case, the weekend. Notre Dame did not have a lot hassle routing Southern Utah 82-56, however Tenth-seeded Princeton beat 7-seed NC State on Grace Stone’s go-ahead 3-pointer with lower than 5 seconds remaining.

Even the “upsets” weren’t surprises. No. 10 seed Georgia taking down Florida State was conceivable, if not predictable, given Latson’s damage. Same with NC State’s loss sans Johnson. No. 9 seed South Dakota State bested No. 8 USC 62-57 in additional time, however it was an 8-9 matchup. Most beautiful was 6-seed Creighton’s loss to the Bulldogs after their Elite Eight run final yr. Could Mississippi State, which performs robust protection and might produce each inside-out, assume the position by upsetting the Irish on Sunday?

ESPN’s Alexa Philippou, Charlie Creme and M.A. Voepel break down the highlights from the primary spherical and take a look at what to anticipate throughout the remainder of the early-round video games.

Give us your greatest overreaction based mostly on sooner or later of video games.



Brinae Alexander delivers from deep for Maryland

Brinae Alexander delivers from deep for Maryland

Creme: No. 2 seed Maryland can be an actual risk to South Carolina in Greenville if Brinae Alexander can shoot like she did in opposition to Holy Cross. The Terrapins made 9 3-pointers and scored 93 factors Friday. Alexander shot 4-for-7 on 3s. Her improved manufacturing has been a big a part of Maryland’s high-level play within the later a part of the season. In the Terps’ final six video games, the Vanderbilt switch made 18 of 36 makes an attempt from past the arc, and he or she’s taking pictures 44.3% there for the season. She led Maryland with 18 factors off the bench in opposition to the Crusaders in an environment friendly 25 minutes.

The Gamecocks do not have a lot vulnerability, however a crew with a number of deep threats can, not less than partially, neutralize their protection — even one nearly as good as South Carolina’s. Alexander, Abby Meyers, Lavender Briggs and Shyanne Sellers may simply give Maryland the shooters to drag an Elite Eight shock.

Philippou: LSU, a crew that has already caught numerous flack for its straightforward nonconference schedule, is in hassle if everybody round Angel Reese comes out as flat as they did versus Hawaii and if the Tigers do not rebound higher (40-33). Reese was dominant (34 factors, 15 rebounds), however LSU shot 1-for-14 from the arc, and Alexis Morris went 3-for-10 from the sector. The path will get way more tough for the Tigers from right here on out with Michigan up subsequent after the Wolverines managed an enormous win over UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in what was thought-about a doable upset sport — after which doubtlessly a crew like high-octane Utah within the Sweet 16.

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Voepel: Maybe the SEC could have two groups within the Final Four. We’ve all been selecting South Carolina to go to Dallas mainly for the reason that nationwide championship sport ended final yr. Much was made from the SEC not being nearly as good as common this season, apart from the Gamecocks. But the SEC went 5-0 on Friday, together with the upsets by Georgia and Mississippi State — even when neither of these outcomes was actually a shock. Saturday, No. 4 Tennessee and No. 10 Alabama will attempt to hold the SEC excellent within the first spherical.

What or who stunned you probably the most in Friday’s video games?

Creme: Perhaps the largest shock of the day was that there weren’t any true surprises. It was on the opening day of the primary spherical precisely 364 days in the past that No. 10 seed Creighton knocked off No. 7 Colorado, 12-seed Florida Gulf Coast beat No. 5 Virginia Tech and No. 10 seed South Dakota upset No. 7 Ole Miss. Those had been actually surprising. Even when a decrease seed gained Friday, like Mississippi State or Georgia, it wasn’t thought-about an upset. The Bulldogs had been the betting favourite.

Alissa Pili’s 33-point, eight-rebound efficiency wasn’t a shock, however the Utah star’s eight assists raised an eyebrow (she averaged 2.1 heading into the match). Utah assisted on 32 of its 37 subject objectives within the 26-point win over Gardner-Webb.



Grace Stone, Princeton come up huge late to upset NC State

Grace Stone hits a go-ahead 3-pointer late within the sport, then Princeton prevents NC State from getting a remaining shot off in a 64-63 win.

Philippou: I did not anticipate Gonzaga to lose, not to mention so badly, to Ole Miss (71-48), however credit score the Rebels’ protection. The Bulldogs went 1-for-17 from 3 regardless of coming into the match with a 41.5% clip from the arc, greatest within the nation.

And whereas I predicted the Tigers to beat NC State, the Wolfpack appeared in management many of the sport. So I did not assume it will finish that manner, with Carla Berube’s squad clawing again from being down two possessions early within the fourth and holding NC State scoreless for the ultimate 5:44 of the sport. Credit the Tigers for his or her grit and resilience, one thing we noticed with how they rebounded from their 0-2 Ivy League begin and even in how they rallied from a deficit to just about knock off UConn in December. The Utes’ high-powered offense can be a tall activity for the defensive-focused Princeton, however it’ll be an interesting matchup nonetheless.

Voepel: No. 1 seed Virginia Tech gained, however two-time ACC participant of the yr Elizabeth Kitley took simply six pictures in a 58-33 victory over No. 16 Chattanooga. Kitley completed with 12 factors, however as common, cleaned up on the boards with 14. In the Hokies’ second-round sport in opposition to No. 9 South Dakota State Jackrabbits, they’re prone to want extra touches for his or her star middle. On a constructive be aware, it seems the Hokies’ Taylor Soule, who left Friday’s sport, was affected by muscle cramps and is prone to play Sunday.

What are you most wanting ahead to seeing Saturday?

Creme: Maryland (93 factors) and Iowa (95) did their half, however with No. 1 seeds South Carolina and Virginia Tech scoring properly under their averages, this match might use an injection of factors. No. 11 seed Middle Tennessee (vs. 6-seed Colorado, 7 p.m. ET on ESPNews) and 12-seed FGCU (vs. 5-seed Washington State, 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU), who every run a ramification offense and transfer the ball, could possibly be the upsets and spark that we did not see in Friday’s video games. If the match continues to carry chalk prefer it did largely on Day 1, the second spherical can be crammed with heavyweights, however I’m doubting Saturday will go so carefully to kind.

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Philippou: How 5-seed Washington State reveals up after its Cinderella run within the Pac-12 match can be attention-grabbing. As Virginia Tech discovered in final yr’s NCAA match, FGCU is a tricky first-round matchup, however Kamie Ethridge’s Cougars are keen to indicate their 4 wins in 5 days within the Pac-12 tourney weren’t a fluke. They’ll must deliver a standout defensive efficiency in opposition to a crew that shoots extra 3s than anybody else within the nation (and makes numerous them). Charlisse Leger-Walker has been a star out west for years and has gone underneath the radar. Bella Murekatete additionally had a stellar run within the Pac-12 match, scoring not less than 19 factors in opposition to Utah and UCLA. Now, each gamers can be on nationwide tv — in opposition to one of the crucial profitable mid-majors within the sport.

Voepel: I’m to see how the Big 12 will do with 5 of its six groups within the match enjoying Saturday. West Virginia had been the league’s first crew to play, dropping Friday to Arizona. Only one Big 12 crew is internet hosting: No. 4 Texas should not have an excessive amount of hassle with No. 13 East Carolina.

The different 4 matchups could possibly be attention-grabbing: No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 Portland, and No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Miami are each a distinction of kinds. On the opposite hand, No. 5 Iowa State (276 3-pointers) are considerably just like No. 12 Toledo (209). And No. 7 Baylor, which faces No. 10 Alabama, have been up and down this season. We will see which model of Baylor seems Saturday.

Mississippi State over 6-seed Creighton was a preferred upset choose. What did you want concerning the Bulldogs’ first-round win — and the way will they check Notre Dame?



Jordan says MS State relishes NCAA underdog position

After her 20 factors and 4 steals contribute to a 81-66 upset of 6-seed Creighton within the NCAA Tournament, JerKaila Jordan says Mississippi State is just not accomplished.

Philippou: No. 11 seed Mississippi State was a powerful 3-point taking pictures crew coming into the match; its 35.2% accuracy ranks thirty sixth within the nation. But the Bulldogs picked the fitting sport to completely go off from 3, as Friday’s 11 treys tied their season excessive. And whereas Jessika Carter went off in opposition to Illinois (22 factors, 9 rebounds) within the First Four, Mississippi State did not must depend on her or paint scoring as a lot in opposition to Creighton. The Bulldogs additionally obtained it accomplished on the defensive finish, irritating the Bluejays and forcing them to take tough pictures (Creighton completed 26.5% from the arc). If Mississippi State can translate that defensive disruption into Sunday, it could possibly be a headache for a Notre Dame crew with out its place to begin guard. The Irish have been a fairly good defensive unit, they usually’ll be tasked with ensuring the Bulldogs don’t remain scorching from 3. But Sam Purcell’s squad may be efficient within the paint as properly by way of Carter and with its guards getting downhill.

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Creme: I underestimated Jessika Carter’s measurement and influence in each of Mississippi State’s NCAA match wins. The 6-foot-5 senior has 36 factors and 19 rebounds mixed. What stands out much more concerning the Bulldogs success this week was that Carter wasn’t even Mississippi State’s greatest participant on Friday; junior JerKaila Jordan was. Carter’s measurement adjustments video games, however it’s not important for the Bulldogs to win.

Their athleticism shined in opposition to Creighton and will hassle the Irish. Notre Dame’s backcourt is depleted with out Olivia Miles and Dara Mabrey. Bulldogs coach Sam Purcell goes to have the ability to run Jordan, Anastasia Hayes, Ahlana Smith, Debreasha Powe, Asianae Johnson and Kourtney Weber in a rotation that would put on down Notre Dame’s Sonia Citron and KK Bransford. That group mixed to make 11 of 19 3-pointers in opposition to Creighton and, whereas higher than regular, it was no fluke; Mississippi State was fourth within the SEC in 3-point accuracy this season. If these guards get to the rim with their athleticism and shoot it properly from deep, and Carter has some affect inside in opposition to Maddy Westbeld and Lauren Ebo, we might get a end result that we will categorize as a real upset.

This feels acquainted: Iowa hosts a 10-seed on its house courtroom within the second spherical. What do you anticipate when the Hawkeyes face Georgia on Sunday?



Caitlin Clark drops 26 factors and dishes 12 assists in first-round win

Caitlin Clark will get her 2023 match off to a terrific begin as she scores 26 factors and offers out 12 assists in Iowa’s dominant first-round win.

Voepel: It’s eerie how related the circumstances are to final yr. Friday, No. 2 seed Iowa gained its March Madness opener by 52 factors, this system’s largest margin of victory in an NCAA match sport, with Caitlin Clark scoring 26 factors. That adopted No. 10 seed Georgia beating No. 7 Florida State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Last yr, the Hawkeyes had been additionally a No. 2 seed, gained their opener by 40, then confronted the No. 10 seed, which had upset No. 7. That did not go properly for Iowa, which misplaced 64-62 to Creighton. Iowa doesn’t need a repeat.

Georgia is a tricky opponent, for various causes than Creighton was. The 2022 Bluejays shot a ton of 3-pointers. Georgia was final within the SEC in 3s; the Bulldogs have 113 this yr to Iowa’s 293. As a end result, the zone the Hawkeyes used so successfully in opposition to SE Louisiana on Friday could possibly be huge in opposition to Georgia, too.

But the Bulldogs have measurement, depth and protection: They have held foes to 58.6 PPG this season. Iowa, which has averaged a Division I-best 87.8 PPG, desires a high-scoring sport Sunday. Both Clark and teammate Monika Czinano mentioned Friday the Hawkeyes will speak as a crew about final yr and what went mistaken within the second spherical, though this can be a really totally different matchup.

“Not even so much about the X’s and O’s, but more how dialed in we have to be for every game,” Czinano mentioned. “The coaches don’t even have to say it. We all know.”