Women's Basketball NCAA Tournament Preview

The road to Tampa is set for the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament as the 64-team bracket was announced on Monday. Baylor was awarded the number one overall national seed and rightfully so as the Bears are 31-1 on the season with their lone loss back in December at Stanford. Baylor has a 1-2 punch down low in Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox that will provide plenty of matchup problems for the majority of the teams in the field as they are absolutely dominant.
The Bears will be in the Greensboro Regional where they could potentially play two defacto road games against South Carolina and NC State if they get past Iowa, which is easier said than done considering the Hawkeyes have Megan Gustafson who is nearly unstoppable at times. 
Defending champion Notre Dame is the top seed in the Chicago Regional, which is a dream scenario for the Fighting Irish. They will fill up Wintrust Arena for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games. Louisville and Mississippi State repeat as number one seeds in 2019 as the Cardinals headline the Albany Regional and the Bulldogs will be the top seed in the Portland Regional as they had an impressive run through the SEC Tournament.
Connecticut was awarded a number two seed in the Albany Regional which is an interesting storyline as the Huskies have not been lower than a one seed in any NCAA Tournament since 2006. Connecticut played at Louisville earlier this season and lost to the Cardinals by a score of 78-69 and should have plenty of motivation if they were to meet Louisville again in the Elite Eight. Katie Lou Samuelson’s return from a back injury should provide an instant spark to the Huskies offense and they will need it if they are going to make it to their 12th straight Final Four.
Maryland and UCLA also have the potential to be problem in the Albany Regional as the Terrapins have Kaila Charles who take over a game at any moment and the Bruins have beaten teams like Oregon this season and are playing their basketball of the year heading into the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee will be in their 38th consecutive NCAA Tournament. The Lady Vols were beneficiaries of a soft bubble and will be the number 11 seed in the Albany Regional and they will play UCLA in College Park, Maryland. Embattled head coach Holly Warlick needs to find a way to upset the Bruins as she is on the hot seat in Knoxville since Tennessee has had a few too many embarrassing losses this season considering how much raw talent they have.
Stanford and Arizona State got a bit of the short end of the stick as far as their draw. The Cardinal are the number two seed in the Chicago Regional and, while they have had success against Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament over the past couple of years, it’s the fact they have to travel a couple of time zones once again that is a problem. The Sun Devils were sent all the way to Coral Gables, Florida to play UCF and the winner of Florida Gulf Coast and Miami if they get past the Knights. That is not exactly a reward for being a number five seed to have to travel nearly 2,400 miles. It’s things like this that will add fuel to the fire who those people who believe the Pac-12 has perception issues as people just simply don’t see enough of their games.
Oregon is setup nicely for another deep run and they won’t have to leave the state in order to make it to the Final Four. The Ducks beat Mississippi State earlier this year in Eugene by a score of 82-74 and will still have a nice crowd advantage up in Portland if they were to have a rematch against the Bulldogs. Depth is an issue for Oregon and they will need to stay out of foul trouble and let Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and the rest of the starters go to work and light up the scoreboard while playing smart at the defensive end of the court.
Overall, the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament has a ton of star power across all four brackets as Arike Ogunbowale will back looking to duplicate her dramatic shot making from last year’s Final Four for the Fighting Irish. There is clearly more parity in the sport. At least seven teams have a legit shot at winning it all. You will see some upsets in the early rounds too, which is a testament to the growing depth of the sport as schools have done a better job of investing in women’s basketball. Expect at least one non number one seed to make it to the Final Four and a bunch of down to the wire games that will be decided by great execution and teams that can avoid panicking at key moments.