Cinderellas all reached midnight
2019-20 has been the type of women’s basketball season where virtually anything seemed possible. And in the first two rounds of the 2020 March S[imulation]adness tournament, that level of craziness continued, with double-digit seeds winning one, even two games.
More from 2020 NCAA Tournament SIMULATION
- March S[imulation]adness: South Carolina crowned virtual champions
- March S[imulation]adness: Oregon-Baylor face off in highly coveted Final Four matchup
- March S[imulation]adness: Final Four sets up elite matchups
- March S[imulation]adness: UCLA looks to contain Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
- March S[imulation]adness: Brenda Frese, Maryland face familiar foe
But in the Sweet 16, the top of the sport re-asserted order, and as we reach the Elite Eight, a sense of normalcy pervades it all.
In the Greenville region, the great Bella Alarie and five seed Princeton saw their remarkable season come to an end in front of a raucous Greenville crowd, 82-60, falling to top seed South Carolina. The Gamecocks just had too many weapons, and Zia Cooke’s 17 points, including four threes, helped turn this close game into a rout late.
The Gamecocks will face two seed UCLA in the Elite Eight, after the Bruins ended eleven seed Old Dominion’s remarkable run in the NCAA Tournament, 75-58. Natalie Chou stepped forward this time, with 15 points of five-for-six shooting from beyond the arc, an impressive feat against the best defense in the country in three-point field goal percentage.
Out in Fort Wayne, top seed Maryland edged four seed Oregon State, 68-64 in a thriller. Blair Watson was in her element, collecting seven steals to go with her 11 points in this defensive slugfest.
Expect more defense, and plenty of familiarity, in the Elite Eight matchup between the Terrapins and two seed Louisville. The Cardinals got 17 points and 11 boards from Kylie Shook in a 67-60 win over three seed Mississippi State. Jeff Walz, the Louisville coach, spent many years as an assistant under Maryland coach Brenda Frese.
Out in Portland, top seed Oregon survived a tough challenge from four seed Gonzaga, edging the Zags, 79-71 thanks to 20 points and 12 rebounds from Ruthy Hebard. The win puts the Ducks into the Elite Eight game against two seed Connecticut, who ended Chennedy Carter’s collegiate career, 72-64, thanks to an all-around game from Aubrey Griffin — 12 points, ten rebounds and six steals.
Down in Dallas, top seed Baylor rolled on, with the great Nalyssa Smith posting 21 points and 11 rebounds to end the stalwart Indiana season, 76-52. The Lady Bears get another Big Ten opponent with the win, as three seed Northwestern became the lone team to break through among the lower seeds, toppling two seed Stanford, 68-56. Abi Scheid continued doing Abi Scheid things, with 19 points on the strength of six threes.
So as we near the Final Four in New Orleans, here’s how the results and schedule look.
SWEET 16 RESULTS
1 South Carolina 82, 5 Princeton 60
2 UCLA 75, 11 Old Dominion 58
1 Maryland 68, 4 Oregon State 64
2 Louisville 67, 3 Mississippi State 60
1 Oregon 79, 4 Gonzaga 71
2 UConn 72, Texas A&M 64
1 Baylor 76, 5 Indiana 52 Nalyssa Smith 21pts, 11 rebs
3 Northwestern 68, 2 Stanford 56 Abi Scheid 19 points, 6-for-8 3pt
ELITE EIGHT SCHEDULE
1 South Carolina vs. 2 UCLA in Greenville
1 Maryland vs. 2 Louisville in Fort Wayne
1 Oregon vs. 2 UConn in Portland
1 Baylor vs. 3 Northwestern in Dallas
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