Women's Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament South Bend Regional Overview

Women’s NCAA Tournament South Bend Regional Overview

This regional is basically set up so Notre Dame women’s basketball fans can enjoy watching the Irish straight through to the regional finals. In fact, those basketball fans in Indiana who are starved for a little hardwood action may want to turn to this region. Not only did Notre Dame qualify, but Purdue also earned a trip to the tournament as the No. 4 seed. Neighboring Ohio also got in on the action with Akron and Wright State, and Kentucky and Western Kentucky also are in the mix here. If you’re a fan of good old-fashioned Midwest basketball, this is the region for you to watch.

#1 Notre Dame, #2 Baylor, #3 Kentucky, #4 Purdue, #5 Oklahoma State, #6 Syracuse, #7 California, #8 Vanderbilt, #9 Arizona State, #10 Fordham, #11 Chattanooga, #12 Florida Gulf Coast, #13 Akron, #14 Wright State, #15 Western Kentucky, #16 Robert Morris


Who Can Win?
Not only can Notre Dame win this region, it likely will barring an upset of monumental proportions like the one last year where Louisville knocked off Baylor. With three big scorers in Kayla McBride, Jewell Loyd and Natalie Achonwa, the Irish won’t be starving for scoring. Add to this the fact Notre Dame hasn’t had a single head-scratching loss this season and it looks like the Irish are in for the long haul with this tournament. Count on four games at home before a trip down I-65 to Nashville for the Final Four.

Who Can Surprise?
The success of the men’s program has overshadowed the success Oklahoma State has enjoyed in Stillwater. The Cowgirls not only have three leading scorers in double figures, led by guard Tiffany Bias and her six assists per game, but OSU ranks in the top 40 in scoring defense and field-goal defense. This suggests Oklahoma State could be a bit stingy when it comes to allowing points to score. Provided Oklahoma State can make it past the first round matchup, round two with Purdue could get quite interesting.

Who’s Hot?
No one expected Baylor to lose a step after the departure of Brittney Griner. The reason has to do with guard Odyssey Sims, who may very well be one of the most valuable players in all of the sport at just over 28 points per game. The Lady Bears are also bound to prove last year’s regional-semifinal loss to Louisville was a fluke and not indicative of a decline in the program’s status. Its rebound margin of plus-11.3 and a total of 19.4 assists per game are good enough to rank among the top 10 in the country.

Who’s Cold?
Vanderbilt qualified for the postseason despite a 7-9 record in Southeastern Conference action and 18 wins overall. Two late-season losses against Missouri and Alabama don’t help matters either. The SEC is a tough league, however, and Christina Foggie and Jasmine Lister have done a reasonable job helping the Commodores to this spot in the tournament. Still, an eighth seed? Even if Arizona State falls against Vanderbilt… and that’s a big if… Notre Dame looms in the second round and a tournament exit is in the offing.

Upset Alert!
Do not be surprised if an 11 takes down a six in this bracket. Syracuse plays a tougher schedule by virtue of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but Chattanooga quietly put together an undefeated Southern Conference campaign and 29 victories overall. Led by senior Taylor Hall and her 15 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, Chattanooga has not lost since the end of November. The Lady Mocs are an underdog against Syracuse, don’t get me wrong, but if this game turns into an upset don’t be the least bit shocked.

What Possible Matchup is Interesting?
The 7-10 matchup between California and Fordham looks like a mismatch on paper, but take a closer look. This is not the Golden Bears team that had a ton of success last year, and if any of the Golden Bear players falter then California may be bounced in the first round. California is particularly susceptible to field-goal issues and has had trouble sharing the ball. Meanwhile, Fordham is ranked in the top 50 in perimeter shooting percentage and number of 3-pointers in a game. Keep a close eye on this game.

Which Players Will Dominate?
No surprise that Baylor’s Odyssey Sims will be among the top players in this regional, but also keep an eye out for Jewell Loyd and Kayla McBride (Notre Dame), DeNesha Stallworth (Kentucky), and the Purdue duo of Courtney Moses and KK Houser. These six players are among the top ones to watch in this bracket. As long as these players are among the big ones producing come tournament action this weekend, these are the ones that will drive the action for the top four seeds.


South Bend Region 1st Round Game Breakdowns


Tournament Central