Women’s March Madness predictions and Final Four picks
The 2023 ladies’s NCAA event bracket is in, the sport schedule is about and a champion will probably be topped on the Final Four in Dallas in just some weeks.
The undefeated and defending nationwide champion South Carolina Gamecocks journey a 38-game successful streak into March Madness. ESPN analytics give the Gamecocks a 46.4% likelihood to win the title.
The UConn Huskies — which misplaced to the Gamecocks within the NCAA title sport a 12 months in the past and are a No. 2 seed on the opposite aspect of the bracket this season — have the following greatest odds at 11.2%. The top-seeded Stanford Cardinal and Indiana Hoosiers each are available in at 7.1%, and fellow No. 1 seeded Virginia Tech Hokies are subsequent at 5.3%.
Brackets are open! Head to Women’s Tournament Challenge and fill out your bracket now! And click on right here for a printable bracket.
We’ve already damaged down the 68-team subject by area. We’ve named the most effective gamers within the bracket. Now, ESPN’s Charlie Creme, Alexa Philippou and M.A. Voepel assess the true championship contenders, whether or not anybody has a shot at dethroning South Carolina and be a part of a handful of ESPN analysts in making Final Four and championship predictions.
If South Carolina does not run the desk for its second consecutive title, which group will elevate the championship trophy?
Voepel: South Carolina has taken the Tennessee Lady Volunteers’ place as the most effective program in what continues to be a really difficult SEC, even in a down 12 months conference-wide. For everybody exterior the UConn fan base, the Huskies are the Michael Myers of girls’s hoops: You cannot eliminate them as they preserve exhibiting up in an countless collection of sequels. Stanford is company regulation agency of faculty sports activities.
I do not assume anybody will cease the Gamecocks from repeating; they’ve too many good gamers, they play nicely collectively and coach Dawn Staley has executed a wonderful job getting them to focus utterly on the duty at hand.
But if somebody goes to knock them off, it could be Stanford within the nationwide semifinals or UConn within the nationwide championship sport. This is simply based mostly on the very fact these two groups performed the Gamecocks as shut as they did in the course of the common season: The Cardinal misplaced by 5 in additional time in November, and the Huskies by 4 in February. We cannot be constructive that both Stanford or UConn will attain the Final Four; that is particularly the case for the Cardinal. But in the event that they do, the Cardinal and the Huskies not less than know from expertise what it’s going to take to beat the Gamecocks in the event that they face off once more.
Philippou: After South Carolina, I believe it is between Indiana and UConn. Despite shedding two of their previous three video games, the Hoosiers have been probably the most constant group not positioned in Columbia, is robust on each ends of the ground and manages to supply each star energy in Mackenzie Holmes and but unimaginable stability with Grace Berger, Sydney Parrish, Yarden Garzon, Sara Scalia and Chloe Moore-McNeil. While some level to Indiana’s lack of depth as a flaw, I can not see that being a serious deciding issue given every little thing else the Hoosiers have going for them. (And I’ll elaborate on the Huskies somewhat decrease.)
Creme: Picking the No. 2 general to have the most effective shot at knocking off the No. 1 is not notably creative, however I firmly consider that Indiana has the most effective likelihood of beating South Carolina. It will take the appropriate night time and the Gamecocks not taking part in at their peak, but when that occurs Indiana has sufficient within the arsenal to go the gap. The Hoosiers transfer and shoot the ball nicely and have stability and expertise to not less than offensively tackle South Carolina if the 2 meet within the championship sport.
Virginia Tech’s NCAA event preview
Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for Virginia Tech’s NCAA event prospects.
Which No. 1 seed would be the first to lose?
Creme: While I just like the matchups in entrance of Stanford within the first three rounds of the Seattle 4 Regional, I’ve some issues in regards to the Cardinal. They have had sufficient moments and even full video games of poor offense — see: 47 factors in opposition to USC or 5 factors within the first quarter in opposition to Colorado — to surprise if Stanford can put 4 good performances collectively to achieve the Final Four. If the Cardinal get to an Elite Eight, can it outscore the second-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes?
Philippou: The Cardinal are clearly skilled in March and will flip issues round within the coming weeks, however the way in which they concluded the common season and their current offensive points are worrisome. And whereas I do not assume it is probably, the very fact Virginia Tech hasn’t performed within the later rounds of the NCAA event in practically 25 years makes me surprise if there is a second when the Hokies have an off night time and the strain catches as much as them. They haven’t got the simplest path, both, with potential matchups in opposition to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits or USC Trojans and sure both Tennessee or the Iowa State Cyclones.
Voepel: As Alexa talked about, Virginia Tech is by far the least skilled program of the No. 1 seeds with regards to lengthy NCAA event runs: South Carolina and Stanford gained the final two titles and Indiana went to the Elite Eight two years in the past. Based on that, the Hokies appear probably the most weak. But additionally they have gained 11 video games in a row and are taking part in very confidently.
Name a group that’s considerably underrated.
Creme: While I’m selecting UConn to come back out of Seattle 3, the Ohio State Buckeyes might be the group to spoil the get together. The No. 3 seed began the season 19-0 largely with out Jacy Sheldon. Now she is again and their youthful gamers, specifically freshman Cotie McMahon, proved they had been as much as the problem within the Big Ten. Ohio State’s urgent model may give any group bother, particularly if you have not seen it. The Louisville Cardinals struggled mightily with it earlier this season, and the LSU Tigers wilted beneath the Ohio State strain in final 12 months’s second spherical.
UNC’s NCAA event preview
Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for North Carolina’s NCAA event prospects.
Philippou: Ohio State is a harmful 3-seed for all the explanations Charlie said, however I can not consider the Buckeyes’ potential second-round matchup could be in opposition to the 6-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. That should not be occurring this early within the event!
Voepel: I will not say No. 5 seed Iowa State was drastically underseeded. However, within the ladies’s bracket, the distinction between a 4- and 5-seed is big as a result of the highest 4 in every area get to host. The choice committee clearly made its top-16 choices earlier than the Big 12 event title sport was even performed Sunday. The committee did not appear to take into consideration the Cyclones beat the Texas Longhorns — in addition to fellow NCAA event groups the Baylor Bears within the quarterfinals and Oklahoma Sooners within the semifinals — by double digits.
If there may be one constant inconsistency in regards to the committee all these years, it is that they contradict themselves lots on how vital convention tournaments are. They even do it in the identical part of the bracket, pointing to 1 group’s convention event success as vital, whereas primarily dismissing one other group’s success.
UConn’s NCAA event preview
Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for UConn’s NCAA event prospects.
Outside of the No. 1 seeds, what different group has the most effective shot of successful all of it?
Philippou: UConn. The Huskies have had a rocky season nevertheless it has solely made them come collectively greater than ever towards their widespread aim of successful a championship. They’ve turned issues round after their disappointing February and are getting the most effective out of Dorka Juhasz and Aaliyah Edwards, and powerful put up play hasn’t essentially been a power the previous few tournaments. With expertise in high-pressure conditions coming into play, and the potential transcendence of Azzi Fudd, I’m selecting UConn because the non-No. 1-seed that has the most effective shot at successful all of it — and actually, the second-favorite to chop down the nets.
Voepel: A program that has 11 NCAA titles and has been to the Final Four yearly since 2008 will proceed to be a menace to win all of it until one thing drastically adjustments. But since Charlie and Alexa have UConn lined, let us take a look at Iowa.
The Hawkeyes might be an offensive powerhouse like few groups we’ll ever see within the event. And whereas they’re a greater defensive group this season by way of getting stops once they actually need them, it is nonetheless about scoring for them. Can their offense carry all of them the way in which to a title? That will probably be powerful; UConn nonetheless appears the more than likely of the No. 2 seeds to prevail. But if the Hawkeyes do it, will probably be with a extremely thrilling model of basketball.
Iowa’s NCAA event preview
Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for Iowa’s NCAA event prospects.
Are we shortchanging the opposite No. 2 seeds? The Maryland Terrapins are a previous nationwide champion, however that is 17 years within the rearview mirror. Interestingly sufficient, the 12 months the Terps gained all of it — 2006 — they beat this 12 months’s different No. 2 seed, the Utah Utes, within the Elite Eight. Maryland and Utah each might be Elite Eight groups this 12 months, nevertheless it does not appear probably they are going to be in Dallas.
Creme: We nonetheless do not know precisely what UConn will seem like with Fudd’s full return. She eased again into the lineup within the Big East event however did not produce a lot. That might need not been the most effective indicator given the timing. If it is something just like the model of the Huskies that beat Texas, the NC State Wolfpack, the Duke Blue Devils and Iowa in succession in November, UConn is a Final Four group. Without Fudd, the Huskies remained aggressive with South Carolina in February, so they’re one other group that would probably upend the heavy favorites.
Final Four picks
LSU’s NCAA event preview
Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for LSU’s NCAA event prospects.
Andrea Adelson: South Carolina (champion), LSU, UConn, Iowa
Charlie Creme: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Iowa
Aja Ellison: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa
Kelly Gramlich: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa
Doug Kezirian: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa
Kevin Pelton: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Iowa
Alexa Philippou: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Iowa
Roy Philpott: South Carolina (champion), Utah, Virginia Tech, Iowa
Steffi Sorensen: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Iowa
Christy Thomaskutty: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Stanford
M.A. Voepel: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Iowa
Stephanie White: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa