2021 NCAA Women’s Tournament: Sleepers, Cinderellas in Round 1
Don’t sleep on the sleepers in the first round
This weekend is the start of Madness, and no matter what your friends tell you, no, their bracket is not flawless. And that’s the best part about March, anything can happen. So naturally, let’s try and predict some Round 1 upsets.
In the Alamo region, the top seeds seem relatively safe. Stanford, Louisville, Georgia and Arkansas have all played well down the stretch and are disciplined, well-coached teams that should hold their own against inferior opponents.
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The big question mark is which Oregon team will show up. The Ducks started the 2020-21 season incredibly strong, but have looked like a completely different team since, losing 5 of their last 6 contests. Their opponent is 11-seed South Dakota, who are riding a 9-game winning streak into the tournament. The Summit League champs are led by a trio of scorers who are collectively elite on the defensive end. The Coyotes held their opponents to less than 60 average points on the season and are on upset alert in the first round.
Over in the Mercado region, the biggest upset might not happen until the second round. After winning the American Athletic Conference and earning a #19 ranking in the AP poll, South Florida was poised for a higher seed than the ultimately got on the eight line. Assuming they take care of Washington State, the Bulls will be a handful for #1 seed NC State in the round of 32.
The easy pick for an upset in the Hemisfair region in Stephen F. Austin, and rightfully so. The Ladyjacks haven’t lost a game since December 11th, but were dealt a tough hand in a Georgia Tech team that showed they can hang with the best in the ACC tournament.
If I were a betting man, I would say the first round will be relatively chalky, as is usually seen in the NCAAW tournament.
Last week Morgan Tuck announced her retirement. The Seattle Storm and former UConn Husky forward has suffered from a plethora of knee injuries that have finally taken too large a toll on her body for her to continue a career.
It is always unfortunate when a player cannot live up to their potential due to injuries, but a positive for the Storm is they now have less of a salary cap bind when looking to sign players out of camp.
The Indiana Fever have signed Kelsey Mitchell to a three-year extension worth over $200k per year. It is an expensive price to pay for a young player who deserves every penny, as the guard showed extremely high efficiency levels in the bubble season. In an offseason that has seen little improvement for the Fever relative to other lottery teams, this signing is paramount to their future.