NCAA girls’s Candy 16 breakdowns and predictions: Is an Iowa-LSU rematch in retailer?

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The Candy 16 discipline is about — principally as we anticipated it however with some twists.

The left aspect of the bracket (Albany 1 and Portland 4 areas) consists of each No. 1 by No. 4 seed, whereas the correct aspect (Albany 2 and Portland 3 areas) low seeds embody a No. 5 and a No. 7 seed.

Will extra chaos ensue within the regionals? Will high seeds hold thriving? We’re right here to interrupt down the matchups and supply predictions.


(All instances Japanese)

Friday

Albany 1 | 2:30 p.m. | ESPN

The matchup between the Preventing Irish and Beavers is one in all contrasting types. Fueled by star freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo and an aggressive zone protection, Notre Dame likes to push the tempo and rating in transition. The Irish are within the ninetieth percentile in tempo and second nationally in fastbreak factors share, per CBB Analytics. Hidalgo alone averaged 7.5 fastbreak factors per sport this season. That every one is starkly totally different from how Oregon State has thrived this yr. The Beavers, by comparability, are within the nineteenth percentile of tempo and rating solely 5.4 fastbreak factors a sport. On offense, they’re environment friendly from across the rim and from 3-point vary. The tandem of junior guard Talia von Oelhoffen and sophomore ahead Raegan Beers is particularly robust to cease.

How the Beavers comprise Hidalgo and guard Sonia Citron may even be crucial, particularly contemplating the Irish usually use solely six gamers in a given sport. The crew that dictates the competition’s circulate seemingly has the benefit on Friday. However even when the sport slows to OSU’s liking, Notre Dame has proven it may well produce within the half-court. The Irish particularly thrive in late shot-clock alternatives. Hidalgo is perhaps a freshman, however she is going to assert herself as essentially the most impactful participant on the ground.

Decide: Notre Dame

— Ben Pickman

Albany 1 | 5 p.m. | ESPN

The Hoosiers picked up a giant win on Monday evening towards Oklahoma in a sport that went right down to the wire with 21 lead modifications and 10 ties. Ultimately, ahead Mackenzie Holmes was sensational for the Hooosiers, scoring a game-high 29 factors. Guard Sydney Parrish added 17, because the Hoosiers head to their third Candy 16 within the final 4 seasons.

It solely will get more durable from right here, although. The Hoosiers match up with undefeated South Carolina, which simply beat North Carolina by virtually 50 (!) factors and stays the heavy favourite to win all of it. How will the Hoosiers cease star middle Kamilla Cardoso? IU’s tallest participant, Arielle Wisne, remains to be two inches shorter than 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso and averages only one.8 minutes per sport. The Hoosier’s tallest starters, Holmes and Yarden Garzon, are each 6-3. IU additionally ranks 316th nationally for 3-point protection, which is an issue when the Gamecocks have Te-Hina Paopao on the opposite aspect pulling down 46.7 p.c of her makes an attempt from deep.

Decide: South Carolina

— Grace Raynor

No. 3 NC State vs. No. 2 Stanford

Portland 4 | 7:30 p.m. | ESPN

In NC State’s 79-72 win over sixth-seeded Tennessee, the Wolfpack dedicated a season-low 4 turnovers. Guards Saniya Rivers, Aziaha James and Zoe Brooks had been improbable, each at dictating the sport’s tempo and scoring, combining for 58 factors. Precedence No. 1 for the Cardinal will probably be slowing the NC State guards. Like Stanford groups of the previous, this yr’s group is deliberate on each ends. The Cardinal pressure solely 5.3 steals per sport and rating solely 6.5 factors in transition. As an alternative, they depend on their environment friendly halfcourt offense with Cameron Brink and Kiki Iriafen serving as fulcrums to play by.

The Wolfpack struggled to defend Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson within the Candy 16, permitting the seemingly WNBA lottery decide to attain 33 factors and add 10 rebounds. Limiting Iriafen, who scored a career-high 41 factors, will probably be their subsequent job — and a frightening one. Count on a low turnover sport, by which possessions are at a premium. If Stanford can restrict NC State’s wings, it ought to have a stable probability to advance to a fourth consecutive Elite Eight.

Decide: Stanford

— Pickman

Portland 4 | 10 p.m. | ESPN

The Bulldogs went 7-2 within the common season towards seven event groups, together with an 18-point December victory towards Stanford. Gonzaga proved it’s battle-tested towards the fifth-seeded Utes with a 77-66 second-round victory to advance to its first Candy 16 since 2015.

The Bulldogs are tied for second nationally with a 39.8 3-point capturing share. They hit 12 of twenty-two to beat Utah. Gonzaga spreads the ball round with 5 gamers averaging double digits, led by Yvonne Ejim’s 20 factors. The Zags might have yet one more edge: The sport in Portland will probably be simply six hours from campus, which means Bulldogs followers ought to present up in droves.

However none of that is perhaps sufficient to cease Texas, whose mettle was examined early this season after Rori Harmon went down with a season-ending knee damage. Led by star freshman Madison Booker (16.8 ppg, 5.1 apg), the Longhorns’ dominant offense averages 112.5 factors per 100 possessions, per HerHoopStats. Count on an entertaining battle between groups that may rating — each common 81.2 factors per sport. Junior Aaliyah Moore is coming off a double-double towards Alabama. Amongst event groups, Texas’ 40 boards per sport ranks fifth in rebounding and its offensive rebounding price of 42.2 p.c, per HerHoopsStats, ranks second.

Decide: Texas

— Shannon Ryan


Saturday

No. 3 LSU vs. No. 2 UCLA

Albany 2 | 1 p.m. | ABC

The defending champions had been locked in a wrestle towards MTSU for two-and-a-half quarters till Flau’jae Johnson turned on the jets. The Bruins had been in a fair greater gap within the second half, however equally relied on a sophomore guard — Kiki Rice — to energy their comeback. Now, the 2 heavyweights — who positioned first and third in The Athletic’s preseason energy rankings — meet within the Candy 16.

The rationale Albany 2 was thought of the Area of Loss of life was due to matchups like this. LSU received all of it final yr, and it has the present SEC Participant of the Yr and Freshman of the Yr, in addition to a four-time title-winning head coach (who, umm, is perhaps a bit extra distracted than ordinary). The Tigers additionally introduced on this yr’s No. 1 recruiting class. The Bruins counter with 2022’s high class, which Lauren Betts is now part of, in addition to projected first-round draft decide Charisma Osborne.

The matchup between Angel Reese and Betts will probably be appointment viewing. Betts has the scale and is extra polished within the publish, however no person works more durable than Reese, who will struggle her counterpart for each inch within the publish. Osborne may have the duty of defending Johnson and particularly stopping the star sophomore from getting unfastened in transition, however Osborne isn’t any stranger to troublesome matchups. UCLA’s benefit might come at level guard, the place Rice is greater and extra bodily than Hailey Van Lith, probably forcing LSU to herald Final-Tear Poa for her defensive prowess.

The Tigers have the sting in expertise, however the Bruins are deeper and arguably extra gifted. UCLA has overwhelmed groups pretty much as good as, if not higher than, LSU within the common season, however the Tigers have turned it on within the NCAA Match with an analogous forged of characters earlier than.

Decide: LSU

– Sabreena Service provider

Albany 2 | 3:30 p.m. | ABC

It’s all the time enjoyable when the committee plans a rematch. When it got here to this particular sport, there was a excessive probability that the Hawkeyes would’ve seen a well-known foe both method — they beat the Buffs final yr within the Candy 16 and cut up video games with Kansas State this season. However that familiarity means we’ll seemingly see Iowa coach Lisa Bluder and Colorado coach JR Payne throw out some fascinating appears as they head-fake each other and dive into one another’s (already understood) weaknesses.

Given how a lot Iowa struggled with West Virginia’s bodily pressuring protection, it’s truthful to count on Colorado to come back out with an analogous assault. The Buffs are within the high 25 nationally in steal share and that conversion fuels their offense — almost one-fifth of their scoring comes on the fastbreak (15 factors per sport). Almost half of their factors come within the paint between guard Jaylyn Sherrod getting downhill (or pulling up within the midrange) and 6-3 forwards Aaronette Vonleh and Quay Miller.

Iowa, which is coming off one in all its worst offensive performances of the season, will look to have a bounceback sport after placing up simply 64 factors towards West Virginia and tallying a season-low seven assists. Caitlin Clark is the headliner right here, nevertheless it’ll be the committee round her that really determines how a lot additional Iowa goes in March (and perhaps April). Exterior of Clark, the Hawkeyes shot 0 of 17 on 3-pointers towards the Mountaineers, however don’t count on that chilly spell to final too lengthy. Colorado has its personal 3-point capturing weapons in Frida Formann and Maddie Nolan (who’re each 42-plus p.c long-range shooters), however which may not be sufficient towards a Hawkeyes arsenal desperate to show they’re a lot better than their final outing.

Decide: Iowa

— Chantel Jennings

Portland 3 | 5:30 p.m. | ESPN

Two coaches with skilled expertise (Lindsay Gottlieb within the NBA and Nicki Collen within the WNBA) roam the sidelines for USC and Baylor, leading to offenses which have pro-style ideas and spacing. Each defenses might wrestle to cowl floor, at the least initially, because the groups really feel one another out.

USC’s main benefit — apart from the prodigious expertise that’s JuJu Watkins — is its measurement. The Trojans are huge at each place and shield the paint nicely with the mixture of Rayah Marshall and Kaitlyn Daivs. Baylor will probably be overwhelmed bodily if the Bears let USC get into the paint. They should hold the ball in entrance, and on the opposite finish, hold the Trojans in rotation to keep away from attacking their measurement head-on.

USC can management the sport if Watkins is disciplined with the ball and the Trojans hold Baylor out of transition. In the event that they hold attacking the paint and utilizing their size as their power, this matchup ought to finish favorable for the No. 1 seed.

Decide: USC

– Service provider

Portland 3 | 8 p.m. | ESPN

Maybe UConn’s Candy 16 matchup versus Duke will merely come right down to the manufacturing of Huskies star Paige Bueckers. Bueckers is averaging 30 factors, 10.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists within the Huskies’ first two NCAA Match video games this March, main coach Geno Auriemma to say she’s “been one of the best participant within the postseason within the nation.” An even bigger key, nevertheless, is perhaps how the gamers round Bueckers carry out. In UConn’s 72-64 second-round win over Syracuse, solely 4 gamers scored (simply six performed), with senior Nika Mühl fouling out after a scoreless 34-minute efficiency. Regardless of its depth points, UConn nonetheless has each a top-10 offensive and defensive ranking, and its expertise usually overwhelms opponents.

Duke, in the meantime, pulled off its upset over second-seeded Ohio State largely due to guard Reigan Richardson’s offensive output. She scored 28 factors, backing up the 25-point outing she had in Spherical 1. Richardson might explode once more versus the Huskies, however she additionally had scored merely 15 factors mixed in Duke’s three prior video games. On protection, the Blue Devils are sixth nationally in block photographs per sport, and so they trot out a bodily protection ranked high 25 within the nation. This matchup is prone to be low-scoring, however the query is whether or not Duke’s offense can match UConn’s.

Decide: UConn

— Pickman

(Photographs of Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese and Madison Booker: Matthew Holst / Getty Pictures, Eakin Howard / Getty Pictures, Jay Biggerstaff / Getty Pictures)



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