NCAA Women's Basketball Selection Show 2013: Previewing the Road to Final Four

Michael DulkaContributor IMarch 18, 2013

DENVER, CO - APRIL 03:  Brittney Griner #42 of the Baylor Bears celebrates late in the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the National Final game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship at Pepsi Center on April 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Following the NCAA Women's Basketball Selection Show, the tournament bracket is all set with the first round games beginning on Saturday, March 23rd. 

While parity and upsets have ruled the season in Men's basketball, this hasn't been the case for the Women. The top six teams, Baylor, Notre Dame, Stanford, Connecticut, California and Duke have dominated everybody else and remain in a different tier. 

The big question heading into the tournament will be whether or not a team is capable of taking down Baylor and preventing them from winning their second-straight national championship. The major storylines will definitely center around the top teams and players. 

Here is a preview of the NCAA women's tournament: 


Top Seeds: Baylor, Notre Dame, Stanford, Connecticut 

The No. 1 seeds in the tournament are exactly the same from last season with the powerhouses showcasing their current hold on the college basketball landscape. While those four teams have established themselves as the current top programs, Duke and California were hot on their tails and will put pressure on the top seeds during the tournament. 

Baylor and Notre Dame lost just one game during the season. Baylor fell to Stanford 71-69 while Notre Dame lost to Baylor 73-61. Stanford lost two games, including getting blown out, 61-35, by Connecticut. The Huskies lost four games, once to Baylor and three times to Notre Dame. 

The only top seed to lose to a team outside the other three was Stanford. In January, they lost to Cal, 67-55, for their second loss of the season. 


Teams With A Shot to Take Down Top Seeds

California Golden Bears

The Golden Bears are the most likely, having already beat one of the top four in the tournament. Looking at their path to the Final Four, they have a great shot to advance to the Quarterfinals and get another shot at rival Stanford. The Bears split the season series with the Cardinal, each winning the other's court. The Bears lost 62-53 in the first meeting and beat Stanford 67-55 five days later. 


Duke Blue Devils

The Blue Devils only played one game against the "Big Four." On Jan. 21, they got embarrassed by Connecticut 79-49 as they allowed the Huskies to shoot 50 percent from the floor. Duke played right with the Huskies in the first half, but got outscored 47-19 over the final 20 minutes. Outside of that loss, the Blue Devils' other game loss came at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes, 69-55.


Star Players to Watch in the Tournament

Brittney Griner, C, Baylor

Griner has taken over college basketball and is looking to deliver a second-straight championship to Baylor. At 6'8", she's been the most dominant player in women's college basketball, getting it done on both ends of the floor. Averaging 23.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, there isn't a player in the nation that is more productive on a nightly basis.


Skylar Diggins, G, Notre Dame 

Diggins is another household name and has certainly helped grow women's basketball. Her strong play at the point guard position is exciting to watch. She's capable of knocking down shots just as easily as she finds ways to seam passes through defenders. Averaging 17.0 points and 5.9 assists per game, Diggins has certainly responded to the disappointment of losing in the championship last season.


Layshia Clarendon, G, California  

The best way to describe Layshia Clarendon is to say she's a playmaker. The senior guard has done a tremendous job leading the Golden Bears to a 28-3 record and a second seed in the Spokane Region of the NCAA tournament. Her leadership as well as her ability to run the offense, both scoring and passing, has put the Golden Bears in a position to make a tournament run. 


Prediction: Baylor, Connecticut, Notre Dame, California