NCAA Women's Basketball Bracket 2012: 5 Bold Predictions for Tournament
One day after the men's bracket was released to much fanfare, the women's NCAA Tournament bracket was released without nearly as much hype. That said, March Madness doesn't belong solely to the men. The women add to the mystique as well.
Here are five bold predictions for the women's big dance. For a complete look at the bracket, visit the official NCAA site.
1. Baylor Won't Win Championship
Baylor enters the tournament as a heavy favorite after going undefeated in the regular season. The Lady Bears aren't simply going to waltz through to the title like many people expect, however. There are plenty of other talented teams.
They have had several close calls against ranked opponents, including a five-point win over Connecticut. In other words, the Lady Bears aren't invincible. Dealing with an undefeated season also adds to an already extreme amount of pressure.
That means another team will end up cutting down the nets in Denver.
2. Marist Upsets Georgia in Round 1
Georgia enters the tournament after a loss to South Carolina. Marist, on the other hand, has rattled off 10 consecutive victories, giving the Red Foxes plenty of momentum heading into their first-round clash with the Bulldogs.
So even though Marist is a No. 13 seed, this game is a virtual toss-up. As long as Corielle Yarde and Brandy Gang continue to pour in points at a high rate, an upset will be in the air. There are always a couple in the opening round, and this has a great chance to be one.
It will be a close battle right down to the final buzzer, but look for Marist to advance.
3. Green Bay Will Make Elite Eight
No team in the tournament is more underrated than Green Bay. The Phoenix only received a seven seed despite finishing the season with a 30-1 overall record. While their schedule strength wasn't as good as the nation's top teams, they were still seeded too low.
Julie Wojta is one of the country's best scorers, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Anytime a team has a dominant force like that leading the offense, it can't be overlooked. Secondary options Adrian Ritchie and Lydia Bauer make the Phoenix a terrific sleeper.
Which outcome is more likely?
They are in a favorable portion of the bracket, which should allow them to make a surprising run to the Elite Eight.
4. Delaware Will Make Final Four
Another mid-major school lacking in the respect department is Delaware. The Blue Hens didn't lose a single game in conference play en route to a 30-1 record, the same as Green Bay. They were given a more reasonable No. 3 seed.
What makes them a Final Four contender is their ability to score seemingly at will. Most women's teams are prone to droughts, but Delaware has avoided that issue for nearly the entire season. Elena Delle Donne leads the way at nearly 28 PPG.
The Blue Hens appear to be on a collision course with Baylor. At that point it would be up to head coach Tina Martin to develop a game plan to slow down Brittney Griner. The veteran coach will get it done, helping her team to the Final Four.
Which team will win the national title?
5. Connecticut Wins Another Title
Connecticut has been the least discussed top seed despite the team's track record of success. Geno Auriemma has his team rounding into form at the right time, setting them up for another championship run.
The Huskies pride themselves on balance. They have four players averaging at least 10 points per game, led by Tiffany Hayes at just over 14, and get significant minutes from eight players. Not to mention they are rock-solid defensively, picking up 12 steals per game.
Connecticut doesn't have the star power of previous seasons, but they are a more complete team from top to bottom. That will lead the Huskies to another title, albeit a far less expected one than some in the past, which will add to the fun.
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