Women's Basketball 2017 NCAA Tournament Stockton Regional Overview

Stockton Regional Overview
South Carolina headlines the Stockton Regional as the number one seed and they are well deserving of a number one seed after battling through the Southeastern Conference and winning the regular season championship and the conference tournament. Oregon State won the Pac-12 Conference in the regular season and just missed out on winning the conference tournament as the Beavers fell to Stanford 49-43 in the championship game. Sydney Wiese leads a very balanced Oregon State team that, when they are clicking at both ends of the court like they have most of the season, they can beat anyone in the nation and will definitely have a great opportunity to get back to the Final Four in Dallas. The rest of the region has some interesting teams that are capable of causing some havoc for the top two seeds in this regional which should lead to some highly entertaining games.
Who Can Win?
South Carolina and Oregon State are the favorites because they are experienced and play outstanding defense, which is always crucial to a long run in the NCAA Tournament. A’ja Wilson is going to be key for the Gamecocks as she has a tremendous ability to take over a game at any moment. Sydney Wiese is a one of the best clutch players in all of women’s college basketball and if she can get around 16-18 points per game, if not more, and get lockdown defense from players like Gabriella Hanson, then look for the Beavers to be in the Elite Eight playing for a Final Four berth.
Who Can Surprise?
Missouri is a team that is battle tested and has beaten South Carolina during the regular season and could give Florida State some problems in the round of 32 if those two teams met. Florida State can potentially surprise as well as the Seminoles nearly ended the UConn winning streak on opening night in a 78-76 loss. They also have plenty of experience led by Leticia Romero and Shakayla Thomas and will be a very tough out all tournament long.
Who’s Hot?
South Carolina has won five consecutive games heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks responded very nicely to the Missouri loss by picking up wins over Kentucky on two occasions and Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament Championship game 59-49. Marquette is also on fire as they have won eight straight games ever since losing to St. John’s back on February 5th. The Golden Eagles are rolling offensively and that ability to score the basketball could very well get them to the Sweet 16.
Who’s Cold?
Arizona State has been struggling a bit down the stretch, especially at the offensive end of the court as too many times in the final month their inability to consistently score the basketball ended up costing them games. The Sun Devils have only scored over 70 points once in a game since January 8th. In order for Arizona State to snap out of this offensive malaise they are going to have create easy opportunities through turnovers at the defensive end of the court.
Upset Alert!
Florida Gulf Coast could be a potential problem for Miami in the first round if the Eagles can limit possessions against the Hurricanes and keep the tempo of the game down into the 60’s. The postseason experience, while from the WNIT last year, will also benefit Florida Gulf Coast as they made it all the way to the WNIT Final. Consequently, the Eagles have had plenty of practice surviving and advancing in tournament play.
What Possible Matchup is Interesting?
Creighton and Oregon State in the second round out in Corvallis is an intriguing matchup because it will be fascinating to see how the Blue Jays play in what should be a very raucous Gill Coliseum. The Beavers have had a couple of home losses this season, including an inexplicable 70-50 loss to USC and a close loss to Marquette. Thus, if Creighton can start fast in the opening couple of quarters and get the game to the second half in single digits, they will have heck of a chance to bust the Stockton regional bracket and get to the Sweet 16.
Which Player Will Dominate?
If 100 percent healthy Alaina Coates for South Carolina can take over a game down in the paint. Her ability to alter shots and control the glass makes her a very difficult matchup for any team. Shakayla Thomas for Florida State is another player that could dominate in this NCAA Tournament if she can get the ball in her hands early and often for the Seminoles. Thomas is the ACC Player of the Year, averaging 14.8 points and 5.3 rebounds, while shooting 50.3 percent on the season.
Which System is Tough to Prepare For?
Oregon State is a very difficult team to prepare for at the defensive end of the court if you don’t play them on a regular basis. They are not afraid to grind a game down into the 50’s and rely on their ability to make big time shots when it counts the most in the fourth quarter. The Beavers are also one of the few in the nation that have made Kelsey Plum of Washington look human as Plum was held to a hard fought 28 points when those two teams played in January. Head Coach Scott Rueck and his staff have this Oregon State team playing so fundamentally sound defensively that you can’t give away any possession if you are going to beat them.