Women's Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament South Bend Region 1st Round Game Breakdowns

2014 NCAA Tournament South Bend Regional First Round Game Breakdowns


#1 Notre Dame vs. #16 Robert Morris (Toledo, Ohio)

Notre Dame makes its 19th straight NCAA tournament appearance, having registered over half (17) of its 32 wins against teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament and six wins against teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time. Robert Morris, based out of Pittsburgh, is making its first NCAA appearance since 2008 and just its third trip to the tournament overall. Robert Morris, out of the Northeast Conference, has won 16 of its last 19 games, but there is a big stumbling block here. Since the 2000-01 season Notre Dame is 41-3 when it faces first-time opponents and is 10-0 when it faces these teams in NCAA play. It’s going to take an upset of monumental, stunning proportions for the Irish to blow this one, and it should be an easy trip to the second round for Notre Dame. Having the game in Toledo, a three-hour drive east on two toll roads, will make it easy for Notre Dame fans to make the trek.


#8 Vanderbilt vs. #9 Arizona State (Toledo, Ohio)

Despite having a subpar 7-9 record in Southeastern Conference play, NCAA schedule makers took a look at the Commodores and how they had to face a ton of quality schools in SEC play. The end result is a classic 8-9 game against a solid Pac-12 power. Vanderbilt dropped nine of its final 11 games to close the season, and that is not a good statistic to have when you are entering the NCAA tournament. However, Vanderbilt did beat Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia, and that likely cinched the tournament bid. Vanderbilt is making its 15th straight appearance in the tournament and 27th overall. This is the 12th time Arizona State has competed in the tournament. Arizona State had impressive wins over North Carolina and Syracuse earlier in the season, but it is also entering play on a down note as it has dropped six of the past eight games. Despite this, I think this is a game where a 9 clips an 8 seed and sends Vanderbilt home.


#5 Oklahoma State vs. #12 Florida Gulf Coast (West Lafayette, Indiana)

This is Oklahoma State’s second straight tournament appearance and the 12th overall for the Cowgirls, who open as the five seed in action at Indiana. The Cowgirls have a 6-5 record all-time in first-round tournament games, and they have won the first game in each of their three previous appearances. Led by Tiffany Bias (14.2 points per game), Brittney Martin (11.8) and Liz Donohoe (11.2), Oklahoma State is going for its 24th win of the season. Florida Gulf Coast earned its fourth straight Atlantic Sun regular season championship and also has 23 victories like Oklahoma State. When Florida Gulf Coast was previously in the tournament in 2013, it was also a 12-seed and lost to No. 5 St. Bonaventure. Oklahoma State has had some difficulties against NCAA teams in the past season, but the Cowgirls should move on to a date with either Purdue or Akron on Saturday.


#4 Purdue vs. #13 Akron (West Lafayette, Indiana)

This is the first meeting between these two schools so a little bit of history is being made, not to mention a lot of home-court advantage. For starters, the Purdue women are playing in West Lafayette, which should guarantee a raucous home crowd. Purdue is making its 24th appearance in school history and comes in at 21-8 overall. The Boilermakers lost to Iowa in the second round of the Big Ten tournament. Senior Courtney Moses (15.7 points per game) plays in her final NCAA tournament and has sophomore April Wilson (10.1 points) ready and willing at a backup scoring spot. Akron finished 23-9 overall and went 14-4 in the Mid-American Conference, and the Zips won the MAC tournament. Senior Hanna Luburgh (22.7 points) and senior Rachel Tecca (22.2 points, 9.5 rebounds) are the key leaders. Akron could pose a problem, but Purdue should prevail in this contest.  


#6 Syracuse vs. #11 Chattanooga (Lexington, Kentucky)

Syracuse makes the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in school history and travels to Kentucky for its first-round game, which marks the first meeting between these two schools. The sixth seed for Syracuse ties the best seed the school has ever had since the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams. So why could Chattanooga pull a surprise here? Syracuse has a history of underperforming once it gets to the big show. In each of its five previous appearances (1985, 1988, 2002, 2008 and 2013), the Orange have fallen. Still, the last two losses were by a combined seven points, so this might be the year things change. Sophomore Brittney Sykes (17.0 points per game) goes up against a Chattanooga offense led by senior Taylor Hall (14.9). Watch out for the Lady Mocs, who possess the 16th-best scoring defense in the country. This game could be a first-round upset special.


#3 Kentucky vs. #14 Wright State (Lexington, Kentucky)

This is the first time since 1983 that the Wildcats have earned this high a seed in NCAA play, and the beauty of this seed is Kentucky would play the first two rounds at home should the Wildcats advance this far. Although Kentucky faces Wright State for the first time in school history, an ominous stat awaits Kentucky’s neighbors to the north. Kentucky has gone 14-0 against Horizon League opponents in the history of the program, including eight wins against the University of Detroit. Kentucky, led by senior DeNesha Stallworth (12.3 points per game), reached the Elite Eight each of the past two seasons. Wright State won 26 games this year, including a Horizon League title, and this is Wright State’s first trip to the NCAA tournament. Despite the fact junior Kim Demmings (22.7), Ivory James (17.2) and Tay’ler Mingo (15.7) average almost 55 points per game, Kentucky’s 82.4 scoring average should overcome that.


#7 California vs. #10 Fordham (Waco, Texas)

California has come down from the high level of last year’s program, but the Golden Bears still had enough in the tank to pull off a seventh seed and a favorable first-round game against Fordham in the NCAA tournament. Its record against ranked teams was not so hot, as it included two losses to Stanford and one each to Duke and Connecticut. Three scorers lead the California attack, including Reshanda Gray (17.6), Brittany Boyd (14.5) and Afure Jemerigbe (11.9), but the Golden Bears’ 3-point attack is not the best and the Bears do not rank in the top 50 in any categories. Fordham’s 57.6 average is 17th in the country and tops in the Atlantic 10, and senior Erin Rooney (17.5) leads the offense. This game should go to California thanks to a tougher schedule, but don’t be surprised if Fordham puts up a big fight. 


#2 Baylor vs. #15 Western Kentucky (Waco, Texas)

Baylor wants a chance at redemption following last season’s disappointing loss to Louisville in the regional round, and it earned its third No. 2 seed in school history and a favorable spot in this year’s NCAA tournament. Baylor, which is 29-4 overall, makes an NCAA appearance for the 13th time in 14 seasons, while Western Kentucky makes its first tournament appearance since 2008. Western Kentucky has made 17 appearances in the tournament. Thanks in part to senior Odyssey Sims (28.4 points per game), Baylor has one of the most explosive offenses in the country and is in the top six in rebound margin and assists per game. Western Kentucky boasts the 95th-best scoring defense in the country. Translation: This game could get ugly for Western Kentucky fans, thanks in part to Baylor’s strong offense and home-court advantage.


South Bend Regional Breakdown

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