Women's NCAA Tournament Spokane First Round Game Breakdowns

Women’s NCAA Tournament  Spokane First Round Game Breakdowns



#1 Stanford vs. #16 Tulsa (Stanford, California)

It was another year, another solid season for the Stanford women’s basketball team. With all the attention focused on other top schools, Stanford quietly put together a 31-2 regular season, with losses to Connecticut and neighbor California the only blemishes on the schedule. Stanford gets credit for taking down top-ranked Baylor by two points earlier in the season. Stanford and California tied for the Pac-12 regular-season title, and the Cardinal’s reward is one of the four top seeds. Tulsa finished tied for fifth place in Conference USA but defeated seventh-place Central Florida in a wild conference tournament. Taleya Mayberry’s averages of 19.5 points and five assists are good, but if you plan to live on Tulsa time then your luck runs out on Sunday. Stanford should win this one in a cakewalk.


#8 Michigan vs. #9 Villanova (Stanford, California)

The middle-seed game pits Big Ten against Big East in a game that traditionally could swing either way given its 8-9 status. The Wolverines started the season with a 14-2 record and things looked quite promising, but the team collapsed in the second half of the season and enters the tournament having dropped four of its last six games. Michigan’s 21-10 record is due in part to Kate Thompson’s team-leading 14.8 points per game. It’s scary how similar Villanova is. Villanova also started the season 14-2 before things tumbled in the second half. The Wildcats went 3-3 in the final six games and needed triple overtime just to get past Syracuse, which later beat Villanova in the conference tournament. Laura Sweeney leads Villanova at 13.8 points per game. This is a true toss-up. Both teams play tough schedules and in tough conferences. It will be a matter of which team comes out more ready to play.


#5 Iowa State vs. #12 Gonzaga (Spokane, Washington)

Look out for this game. On paper Iowa State should be the clear-cut favorite. Hallie Christofferson has 15.5 points per game for the Cyclones, who finished with a 23-8 record yet still came in second place in the Big 12 Conference, six games behind Baylor. To be fair to Iowa State, no one was catching Baylor. Iowa State has won five of its last eight games but enters the tournament on a flat note, having just lost 75-47 to Baylor in the Big 12 finals. So why is this a danger game for Iowa State? Although Gonzaga has the 12 seed, the Bulldogs also possess a 27-5 overall record and the West Coast Conference title. The team also hasn’t dropped a game since Jan. 10, when it fell 54-51 to Saint Mary’s. Add to that the fact this is a home game for Gonzaga and you have the makings of a 12 vs. 5 upset special. Iowa State may play the tougher schedule but Gonzaga has all the momentum.


#4 Georgia vs. #13 Montana (Spokane, Washington)

In a very tough Southeastern Conference race where five teams were ranked at the end of the regular season, Georgia emerged in third place in the SEC with a 25-6 overall record. The Bulldogs, led by Jasmine Hassell’s 13.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, won their first 12 games. Its losses came against ranked teams like Tennessee and Texas A&M; Georgia was even able to down Kentucky before falling to the Wildcats in the SEC tournament. The Lady Griz went 16-4 in the Big Sky Conference and finished the year at 24-7 as Kenzie DeBoer’s 19.8 points a game led the way. Every other team in the Big Sky had double-digit losses, so that may suggest to an extent the conference wasn’t really that good when it came to women’s basketball. Montana has won eight of its last 10, but Georgia should have enough battle-tested scars to survive a first-round matchup and move on.


#6 LSU vs #11 Green Bay (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

Like Gonzaga, LSU essentially gets a home game as a reward for its great season. This is how it works in the women’s tournament, so expect the Tigers to take as much advantage as they can. LSU finished with an overall mark of 20-11, including a 10-6 record in SEC play and a sixth-place finish. The team had rattled off seven wins in a row, including victories over ranked schools like Georgia and Kentucky, before Georgia clipped the Tigers in the SEC tournament. Theresa Plaisance is one of the best players in the SEC at 17.6 points and 8.2 rebounds a game. Green Bay blitzed through the Horizon League at 16-0 and reached the NCAA tournament for the fifth year in a row. Its two losses were by three points to James Madison (in overtime) and four points to Central Michigan. Adrian Ritchie (13.6 points) is the leading scorer. As much as the Phoenix look like a sleeper, LSU simply has too strong a schedule and it should prevail.


#3 Penn State vs. #14 Cal Poly (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

The Big Ten regular season champions carry a 14-2 league and 25-5 overall mark into this first-round tournament game, deftly guided by the shooting touch of Big Ten Player of the Year Maggie Lucas and her 19.7 scoring average. Penn State will look to rebound following a shocking loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten semifinals, and it may have just the perfect rebound team in Cal Poly. The Mustangs went 13-5 in Big West play (21-10 overall) as Ariana Elegado led the team in scoring at 15.2 points. Cal Poly did win eight of its last 10 games, including the Big West finals, but most of the conference teams have more than 15 losses on their overall records. That suggests the Big West simply isn’t up to the level of the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions should easily prevail in this game and earn a second game in Louisiana.


#7 Texas Tech vs. #10 South Florida (Lubbock, Texas)

The Lady Raiders did finish with a respectable 21-10 record and 11-7 mark in Big 12 play, and that was good enough to tie Oklahoma for third place in the conference. Look under the surface, however. Texas Tech’s engine looks like it is running fine, but the Lady Raiders have a 5-6 record over their last 11 contests and three straight losses that ended the season. Granted, two of those losses came against Baylor and one against Iowa State, but Kansas tripped up Texas Tech on the way to an 18-13 season. You have to win these games. Chynna Brown (13.7) leads Texas Tech in scoring. The Bulls finished 21-10, 9-7 in Big East play, behind Andrea Smith’s 17.0 scoring average. South Florida won five of its last eight, beating ranked Louisville and Syracuse but falling to Connecticut and Notre Dame. I pick South Florida in the upset, simply based on a stronger end-of-season schedule.


#2 California vs. #15 Fresno State (Lubbock, Texas)

Layshia Clarendon, Gennifer Brandon and Brittany Boyd are three of the leading scorers on a Golden Bears team that has made history. California finished 28-3 overall and 17-1 in the Pac 12, tying Stanford for the regular-season championship. Not only that, California beat Stanford in a regular-season showdown. The Golden Bears had won 16 straight games before falling to UCLA in the Pac 12 tournament, mainly due to cold 3-point shooting. Fresno State carries a 24-8 overall record into the tournament, having finished second behind San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference. Ki-Ki Moore is the team’s leading scorer at 18 points a game. The MWC is pretty good, but if Fresno State can’t beat last-place Nevada in its own conference what makes you think it can knock off the Bears? California’s magical season continues. 



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