Women's NCAA Tournament Spokane Regional Overview

Stanford Women's Basketball

Women’s NCAA Tournament Spokane Regional Overview


Even though this regional is labeled as Spokane, you could jokingly call it the California regional. Of the 16 teams sent out to the Spokane bracket, four are from the Golden State and the top two teams (Stanford and California) are within mere miles of each other. On the surface this regional looks like it is Stanford’s to lose, and the Cardinal should be a solid contender as teams race through the tournament to get to the Final Four in New Orleans. Could any other team sneak in, surprise a solid contender and march away as a bracket-buster? Stanford is a strong choice for top seed, but other schools like Baylor and Notre Dame have overshadowed traditional powers like Stanford and Connecticut in recent years. Time will tell how this regional turns out.


#1 Stanford, #2 California, #3 Penn State, #4 Georgia, #5 Iowa State, #6 LSU, #7 Texas Tech, #8 Michigan, #9 Villanova, #10 South Florida, #11 Green Bay, #12 Gonzaga, #13 Montana, #14 Cal Poly, #15 Fresno State, #16 Tulsa


Who Can Win?

Realistically, only one team stands a solid shot of getting to the Final Four, and it should come as no surprise that Stanford is that squad. The Cardinal have reached the NCAA Final Four in three of the past four years, but it doesn’t seem possible that 1992 was the last time Stanford hoisted the NCAA championship trophy aloft. Although Stanford is usually a lock for the Final Four this time of year, don’t be surprised if California makes a legitimate run at New Orleans. California went 28-3 overall and 17-1 in the Pac-12 Conference, falling to Stanford once but also scoring a key victory against its rival. California’s 28 wins are the most by a Golden Bear team in school history, and the fact the Cardinal have beaten Stanford once suggests that this could be the year the Golden Bears make their first trip to the Final Four.


Who Can Surprise?

Penn State drew a fairly decent spot in the bracket. As the third seed, all the Nittany Lions have to do is get past Cal-Poly and then face LSU as a likely second-round opponent. That would put Penn State on track for a regional-semifinal appearance against California, and this could be a wild card. Maggie Lucas was the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, and if Lucas gets hot with her shooting touch at just the right time then Penn State could upset the brackets across the country with a trip to the Elite Eight. It is doubtful Penn State could get past Stanford, but a Lions win over California would not be a surprise in the least. Keep an eye on Penn State and see what happens.


Who’s Hot?

Yes, LSU lost to Georgia in the SEC tournament finals earlier this month. Before that 71-53 loss on March 8, LSU had rattled off seven straight victories, including wins over ranked opponents like Georgia, Kentucky and Texas A&M. The Tigers were 13-10 overall before that 7-1 stretch to close the season, and that qualifies them as a legitimate team to watch. Theresa Plaisance guides the Tiger offense at 17.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. LSU faces Wisconsin-Green Bay in the first round and then has a possible date with Penn State in the second round. Penn State could surprise, as we have pointed out, but a Tiger win could send the Baton Rouge school into the regional finals.


Who’s Cold?

Although Texas Tech finished 21-10 overall, three of those losses came right at the end of the season against Kansas State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. That 0-3 finish should worry bracket builders everywhere. Chynna Brown averages 13.7 points per game, and Kelsi Baker has been strong as well, but if either of those players fall cold in the first round matchup then Texas Tech could be in for big trouble during the first weekend of the tournament. The Lady Raiders possess the seven seed in the regional, setting it up for a date with upset-minded 10th seed South Florida. The Bulls have lost three of five, but two of the losses were to Connecticut and Notre Dame.


Upset Alert!

Remember when Gonzaga’s men used to rip apart brackets everywhere? Now the Gonzaga women could potentially be a bracket-ripper. The Bulldogs are seeded 12th in the Spokane bracket but have a home game with Iowa State, the fifth seed. Gonzaga has not lost since Jan. 10, when it fell 54-51 to Saint Mary’s. Gonzaga also lost to Ohio State, Louisville and Stanford, which was the top team in the nation at the time. If a 5-12 upset is going to occur in any of the brackets, chances are it could take place right here in Spokane as the Bulldogs have a veritable home game and what a celebration that would trigger.


What Possible Matchup is Interesting?

As the 11 seed Green Bay could make things quite interesting for sixth-seed LSU. The Tigers definitely play a more difficult schedule, but don’t discount Green Bay just because it plays in the Horizon League. The Phoenix went 16-0 in Horizon play and 29-2 overall, with narrow losses to James Madison and Central Michigan. Green Bay didn’t play a single ranked opponent all season, and the Horizon isn’t known for having a solid schedule itself, but there’s something about a 29-win team you just cannot ignore. On paper LSU looks like it could be the easy one to advance, but don’t be surprised if the upset is sprung or the game is close.


Which Players Will Dominate?

We have already mentioned some of the players who could dominate in the tournament, but two players from Stanford – Amber Orrange and Chiney Ogwumike – could drive the Cardinal to dizzy heights not seen by most players. Lost in a season where Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins have grabbed most of the press, Ogwumike has a strong double-double average of 22.3 points and 13.2 rebounds per game. If Stanford gets strong performances from Ogwumike and Orrange, that 17-game winning streak should continue. If not, things could get interesting.



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Women's NCAA Tournament Central