Women's Basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament Albany Regional Overview

Albany Regional Overview
Any region with Connecticut is going to be a good region. But this one also has last year’s champion, South Carolina. Pitting those two against each other will provide the Huskies with a test before they, presumably, reach Columbus.
Who Can Win?
We learned last year that Connecticut can actually lose in the NCAA Tournament every once in a while. But with Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and Gabby Williams, it will not likely happen before the Final Four, if at all. The Gamecocks can potentially make things interesting though.
Who Can Surprise?
There really is not much wiggle room for a surprise team in this region. Connecticut and South Carolina have a pretty clear path to the Elite Eight. If there is a double-digit seed or two that can reach the Sweet Sixteen, it would have to be Belmont or Buffalo. Both have tough roads though.
Who’s Hot?
Quinnipiac last lost on December 18th at Michigan State. Twenty-two games later and they have yet to taste defeat, cruising through the MAAC with an 18-0 mark. Mercer has won their last 27 games, dating back to November 24th. And, of course, Connecticut has won 32 games in a row since their Final Four defeat in 2017. No team is hotter than that.
Who’s Cold?
Florida State has lost just six games all season, but two of them have come in their last five games. There is no shame in losing at Duke and to Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament, but for a team with Final Four aspirations, they are not playing their best basketball right now. Virginia has backed their way into the NCAA Tournament by losing six of their last nine games. None of those losses were bad losses, but the Cavaliers need to generate some momentum quickly if they want to win a game in the NCAA Tournament.
Upset Alert!
Belmont boasts a very experienced team that does just about everything well. They play good defense, are very strong on the glass and rarely turn the ball over. The backcourt duo of Kylee Smith and Darby Maggard can score in bunches and dish out plenty of assists. This Belmont team does not lack size in the paint either. Center Sally McCabe is averaging 14.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. She can keep Duke’s offense at bay. The Blue Devils have a lot of perimeter talent too, most notably Lexie Brown and Rebecca Greenwell. Duke will need to hit their three-pointers, which they usually do, in order to avoid an upset.
What Possible Matchup is Interesting?
Of course the talk is already about a Connecticut and South Carolina matchup with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Those two teams met in Columbia on February 1st and the Huskies crushed the Gamecocks 83-58. In Albany, South Carolina will not even have the home court advantage. South Carolina has looked better since that game though, including a win over Mississippi State in the SEC Championship. Connecticut will still be favored, but it should be closer.
Which Player Will Dominate?
A’ja Wilson has struggled with injuries this season, but the senior forward still averages 22.9 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. If South Carolina is going to reach the Final Four, she will have to be at her best. But most eyes will be on the Connecticut superstars. Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Gabby Williams and Azura Sevens can all dominate a game.