Women's Basketball 2016 NCAA Tournament Bridgeport Regional Overview

Bridgeport Regional Overview
No team wanted to find themselves in this region. Connecticut may dominate in the end and cruise to the Final Four without leaving the state of Connecticut, but there are some other good teams in this region and some potentially interesting match-ups along the way. The Bridgeport Regional also boasts a couple very interesting smaller conference teams in Colorado State and Chattanooga and those two could pull off some of the few upsets that will happen in this region.
Who Can Win?
Connecticut. And that’s about it. Texas is a great team and only lost once to a team other than Baylor, but even center Imani Boyette, who is used to dominating the paint, would struggle against the Huskies if Texas can make it that far. Connecticut, with Moriah Jefferson, Morgan Tuck and Brianna Stewart, is just too much for any team in this region.
Who Can Surprise?
Mississippi State may have an argument that they should be a #4 seed. But the committee matched them up with Michigan State, who cannot host, so the Lady Bulldogs get to host the first two rounds anyway. This is a team that went 11-5 in the brutal SEC and has the talent to get to Bridgeport and match up physically with Texas. However, Michigan State will not be an easy game for Mississippi State. The Spartans reached the Big Ten Tournament Final and have a great inside/outside duo in guard Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers. Powers is not a bruiser, but she averages 21.9 points per game and gets plenty of help from center Jasmine Hines and forward Akyah Taylor in the paint. Like Mississippi State, the Spartans can give Texas some trouble if they can make it that far.
Who’s Hot?
UCLA may have lost last time out in the Pac-12 finals, but this team is playing great basketball right now. They beat Arizona State in the regular season finale to gain some great momentum heading into the conference tournament. Once there, they took care of Arizona and California to reach the finals. The Bruins looked completely overmatched against Oregon State, but managed to crawl back into the game thanks to their pressure defense. It was too little too late, but the Bruins still should feel good about getting back into that game and have the confidence to come from behind if necessary and beat teams like South Florida and Texas.
Who’s Cold?
BYU has not lost much this season, sporting a 26-6 record, but two of those losses came in their last four games of the season. After winning 16 straight games spanning from the end of December of 2015 to late February of this year, the Cougars lost to Gonzaga in their regular season finale and to San Francisco in the WCC Tournament final. That was a San Francisco team that did give BYU some problems during the regular season, but the Cougars still managed to win both regular season matchups. The defense has dropped off a little over that stretch and the offense and Lexi Eaton-Rydalch’s offense just was not enough to carry the team. They will need to turn that around quickly if the #7 seeded Cougars hope to win a game or two.
Upset Alert!
If there is an 11 seed or higher that is going to win a game in this region, it will likely be Colorado State. The Rams are 31-1 on the year, with their lone loss coming against NCAA Tournament team Penn. This is not a team that has been tested very often and their best win on the year is against BYU. Still, going 18-0 in any conference is an impressive feat. With Ellen Nystrom controlling tempo and spearheading a very good defensive team, South Florida needs to be careful when these two meet in Los Angeles. The Rams will not let Courtney Williams drive to the basket too easily, so it is important for Courtney Williams and her South Florida teammates to knock down some outside shots in order to loosen up the Colorado State defense.
What Possible Matchup is Interesting?
The most interesting potential matchup could be South Florida playing Connecticut for the fourth time this season. Few teams know UConn as well as the Bulls and they have hung around with the Huskies for a while at times. If anybody is going to pull off a massive upset and beat Connecticut, it will probably be the team that knows them the best and is not intimidated by the name on the front of the shirt.
Which Player Will Dominate?
Eventually Connecticut forward Breanna Stewart will dominate, but the Huskies will not need her to do so until the Elite Eight and beyond. Until then, this region has some other superstars like Victoria Vivens at Mississippi State, Aerial Powers at Michigan State, Courtney Williams at South Florida and Jordin Canada and Nirra Fields at UCLA. If any of those teams want to reach the Elite Eight and take down the top two seeds in this region, it will be on the shoulders of their stars.