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March Madness: 3 takeaways from women’s selection committee’s top 16 reveal

In Sports
March 01, 2024

South Carolina kept hold of its No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA women’s basketball committee’s final reveal on Thursday, two weeks ahead of Selection Sunday.

Ohio State and Stanford, which switched spots, remained on the 1-seed line and were joined by UCLA. Colorado, the final No. 1 seed in the first reveal, dropped nine spots to a No. 4 seed.

“Since the last reveal on Feb. 15, we had quite a bit of movement over the last two weeks,” said Lisa Peterson, senior associate commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference and chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. “This last 18-day stretch of the season will provide greater clarity as we work toward Selection Sunday. There are a number of key matchups as the regular season closes out and conference tournament champions are crowned.”

Virginia Tech won its first ACC regular season championship this week and moved up five spots to a No. 2 seed. LSU moved up five to a No. 3 seed. NC State had the second-largest drop moving from No. 6 overall to No. 11. The Wolfpack lost back-to-back games against North Carolina and Duke last week.

Gonzaga and Oklahoma, which upset Texas on Wednesday to win the Big 12 title, moved into the top 16. Kansas State and Louisville fell out. Teams in the top 16 host games in the first and second round of the tournament before it moves to two super-regional pods in Portland and Albany, New York.

Here are the three big takeaways from the last top 16 reveal. Selection Sunday is March 17.

Which Pac-12 team will keep the final No. 1 seed?

UCLA moved up three spots into the final No. 1 seed line. The spot was held by Colorado two weeks ago, but the Buffs are on a four-game losing streak. Colorado plummeted from the fourth overall seed to No. 13 with losses to Oregon State, Utah, USC and UCLA.

It’s not simply recency bias. UCLA has the better resume with a 7-5 record against teams ranked top-25 in the NET versus a 5-7 record for Colorado. For most of the first half of the season, UCLA was the clear No. 2 team in the country behind South Carolina. But they went a few games without center Lauren Betts and struggled. The Bruins have won three straight.

USC moved up one spot to the eighth overall seed and could have a shot at a No. 1 seed in the bracket reveal on Selection Sunday. The Trojans are 7-4 against teams ranked top-25 in NET, but have one loss to teams ranked 26-50. UCLA hasn’t lost to a team outside of the top-25 and has played the tougher schedule.

The Pac-12 Tournament, which will run for one final time in Las Vegas next week before the conference’s demise, will shake up where the teams ultimately land. Washington State charged to its first Pac-12 championship last year as the No. 7 seed in the tournament.

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with five teams in the top 16. Stanford, UCLA, USC, Oregon State and Colorado were in both reveals.

South Carolina, Iowa: All eyes on Albany

The Albany regional will be the place to be if committee’s rankings hold. There could be a potential Final Four rematch in the regional final.

Iowa is still a 2-seed in the rankings, but dropped from fifth overall to seventh overall after its 17-point loss to Indiana last week. That moved the Hawkeyes into the Albany 1 region with South Carolina, which is close to a second consecutive undefeated regular season.

Caitlin Clark scored 38 points and Iowa upset South Carolina in the 2023 Final Four. The Gamecocks‘ starting roster looks different than last season and they’re a better 3-point shooting team, which could cause problems for Iowa’s defense.

They’re joined in the regional by Oregon State and Oklahoma.

LSU, UConn stay 3 seeds

LSU is also in Albany, but the No. 3 seed in the Albany 2 region with Ohio State, USC and Colorado. The Tigers are an interesting case again this year because of their schedule. They have played the fewest teams ranked NET top-25 and have a losing record against them at 1-2. Gonzaga, which slid into the top-16 and hosting duties, is also 1-2 against the group. Every other team has played at least four games against teams ranked top-25.

The Tigers moved up from their No. 14 seed in the last reveal to No. 9 overall, which meant a full step up the seed line. LSU is on a six-game win streak since losing back-to-back games. Upsetting South Carolina could move them up further, but it’s more likely they move down should they stumble in the SEC Tournament.

UConn is on the same seed line despite a tougher NET (2 to 9), opponent NET rank (1 to 76) and opponent average NET (1 to 76). The Huskies lost more games in that 1-25 category (3-5) and are an undefeated 15-0 against teams in the rest of the NET top 100. Like LSU, there might not be much room upward for UConn in the Big East tournament unless teams above them lose surprisingly early in their own tournaments.

Top 16 seeds

1. South Carolina
2. Ohio State
3. Stanford
4. UCLA
5. Virginia Tech
6. Texas
7. Iowa
8. Southern California
9. LSU
10. UConn
11. NC State
12. Oregon State
13. Colorado
14. Indiana
15. Gonzaga
16. Oklahoma

Regional assignments

Albany Regional 1
1. South Carolina
2. Iowa
3. Oregon State
4. Oklahoma

Albany Regional 2
1. Ohio State
2. USC
3. LSU
4. Colorado

Portland Regional 3
1. Stanford
2. Texas
3. NC State
4. Indiana

Portland Regional 4
1. UCLA
2. Virginia Tech
3. UConn
4. Gonzaga

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