NCAA Women's Bracket: Winning Picks and Predictions for Every Round-of-64 Game
Let's start with a little understanding. It is nearly impossible to predict the winner of every single game in the NCAA tournament, whether it is women's or men's college basketball.
But the fact is that March Madness is now officially here, which means it is time to break out your brackets and make your best pick of which team is going to hoist that championship trophy in the air when it is all said and done.
This year's women's NCAA tournament is loaded with star power from top to bottom.
At the top stand the Baylor Bears, who will try to win their second consecutive NCAA National Championship behind their superstar senior, Brittney Griner. The Bears also won the championship in 2005.
Notre Dame, UConn and Stanford are the other top seeds in the tournament who will do their best to make sure the Baylor Bears don't achieve that remarkable feat.
On the bottom is the underdog teams, who we all love to root for at this time of the year. Can a school like Cal Poly, Oral Roberts or South Dakota State shock the college basketball world and pull off a miraculous upset?
Let's go ahead and find out as we hand out the winning picks and predictions for every game in this year's NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.
Oklahoma City Region
(1) Baylor vs. (16) Prairie View
Baylor is the top team in the country and the defending national champions. Prairie View finished 11-7 in the SWAC. Enough said.
(8) Florida State vs. (9) Princeton
This one looks like a close matchup on paper, but Florida State is simply too quick and athletic for Princeton. This one could remain close early on, but in the end, Florida State's athleticism proves to be too much.
Winner: Florida State
(5) Louisville vs. (12) Middle Tennessee
These two teams look very similar on paper. But keep in mind that Louisville goes up against the likes of Notre Dame and UConn every year, while Middle Tennessee's toughest conference opponents are Western Kentucky and Arkansas-Little Rock. That should tell you all you need to know right there.
(4) Purdue vs. (13) Liberty
Purdue is one of the hottest teams in college basketball right now. The Boilermakers have won five or their last six games and took home the Big Ten Conference Championship. However, Liberty is on an even bigger winning streak, taking home 14 straight victories, including the Big South Conference Championship. Could this be an upset in the making? Don't count on it.
(6) Oklahoma vs. (11) Central Michigan
This wasn't Oklahoma's best season by any means, but the Sooners still managed to close out the season with 22 wins and a third-place finish in the Big 12. Central Michigan finished second in the Mac West standings with 21 wins. It would be great to see an upset here, but that's just not likely to happen.
(3) UCLA vs. (14) Stetson
UCLA finished the Pac-12 season strong, winning its final six games before falling to Stanford in the conference championship by just two points. A 12-point win over Cal in the conference tournament proved that this team can compete with just about anyone in the country. Unfortunately, Stetson can't say the same.
(7) Syracuse vs. (10) Creighton
It's hard not to root for the underdog in this game, especially because you would like to see at least one upset in the opening round of this region, unless you are a Syracuse fan of course.
The Bluejays won the Missouri Valley regular-season title, but do they have enough to beat a Syracuse team that plays against the likes of UConn, Notre Dame and Louisville on a week-in, week-out basis? I think they do. Prove me right, Bluejays.
(2) Tennessee vs. (15) Oral Roberts
This is a matchup between the most storied program in women's college basketball history going up against a 12-loss Oral Roberts team that is making its first NCAA tournament appearance since back in 2008. This one is pretty much in the books.
(1) Stanford vs. (16) Tulsa
Stanford will go for yet another Final Four appearance, while Tulsa will try to pull a mega upset. The fact that the Golden Hurricane are just one game above .500 and finished tied for fifth place in Conference USA should tell you everything you need to know about this one.
(8) Michigan vs. (9) Villanova
Kim Barnes Arico has done an exceptional job during her first year's as Michigan's women's head basketball coach. But her team is going to have its hands full against a good Villanova team that beat Syracuse and lost to Louisville and Notre Dame by a combined 13 points. Villanova wins this one in a tight one.
(5) Iowa State vs. (12) Gonzaga
It's tough to pick upsets in the first round of the women's tournament, but if there is one big upset to pick, this could be the one right here. Gonzaga hasn't lost since early January, running off 15 straight victories heading into this game.
The Zags also have the luxury of playing this game on their home court. Iowa State, meanwhile, is just 3-2 over its last five games, including a 28-point thumping by Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament. Can you say "upset?"
(4) Georgia vs. (13) Montana
This is another game that could be closer then many people may believe it will be. But in the end, Georgia is far too athletic for Montana, which results in a first-round victory for the Bulldogs.
(6) LSU vs. (11) Green Bay
Green Bay is one of the most underrated teams throughout all of college basketball. The Phoenix finished a perfect 16-0 in the Horizon League this season and went 29-2 overall. This is a team that hasn't lost a game since back on Dec. 5.
However, Green Bay got a tough draw having to go up against a talented LSU team that will be playing in Baton Rouge in front of their home fans. This will be one of those first-round games that very well could come down to the final possession. In the end, athleticism and experience prevails.
(3) Penn State vs. (14) Cal Poly
The Big Ten was the best conference in America this season when it comes to men's college basketball. The same can't be said for the women.
Despite an upset loss in the conference tournament, Penn State still gets my vote as the top team in the Big Ten and one that could raise some eyebrows in this tournament. They should make quick work of a Cal Poly team that is fun to watch, but just not on the same talent level.
Winner: Penn State
(7) Texas Tech vs. (10) South Florida
The 7-10 matchup is always a good one, and this one should be no different. These are two teams with identical 21-10 records, and both finished with exactly seven losses in conference play. The difference is that South Florida did so playing against the likes of Notre Dame, UConn and Louisville.
Winner: South Florida
(2) California vs. (15) Fresno State
California is a team that got hot at the right time this season. The Golden Bears closed out the year on a 16-game winning streak before falling to UCLA in the conference tournament. This is a team that could make a legitimate run at the Final Four, and they should have plenty of favorable matchups along the way, this one included.
(1) Notre Dame vs. (16) Tennessee-Martin
Notre Dame is looking to revenge its NCAA Championship loss to Baylor last season. The first step will be a 19-14 Tennessee Martin team that finished second in the Ohio Valley West. Enough said.
Winner: Notre Dame
(8) Miami vs. (9) Iowa
This is a swing game between two even teams that really could go either way. Going up against Duke, North Carolina and Maryland should have the 'Canes slightly more prepared for this big stage. That gives them a slight edge in this matchup.
(5) Colorado vs. (12) Kansas
Colorado is a team that has won 11 of its last 12 games and is on a high note heading into the NCAA tournament. Kansas, on the other hand, squeaked its way into the field of 64 with an average 18-13 record this year. Have to like the Buffaloes in this one.
(4) South Carolina vs. (13) South Dakota State
South Carolina is a good basketball team that notched some quality SEC wins this season, including one over No. 2 seed Kentucky. South Dakota State will simply be outmatched and overwhelmed in this first-round clash.
Winner: South Carolina
(6) Nebraska vs. (11) Chattanooga
Doesn't Chattanooga sound like a team that would be poised for a major upset in this year's NCAA tournament? With a 29-3 overall record and a 19-game win streak, why wouldn't you believe in this team? Nebraska is a tough group, but I sense an upset in the making here.
(3) Texas A&M vs. (14) Wichita State
It was just two years ago that Texas A&M won its first women's college basketball national championship. This team is back and hungry this season, and playing in their hometown will certainly help their chances. Sorry Wichita State, your run stops right here.
Winner: Texas A&M
(7) Oklahoma State vs. (10) DePaul
This is a great 7-10 matchup between two 21-win teams. Both of these teams have plenty of experience playing against the top teams in college basketball, but when it is all said and done, Oklahoma State's Toni Young proves to be too much for this DePaul team.
Winner: Oklahoma State
(2) Duke vs. (15) Hampton
Duke is one of the top women's teams in the country and looks to be poised to make a deep run in this year's NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils' Final Four push starts with an easy one-sided victory over a Hampton team that had a nice season, but is simply overmatched in this contest.
(1) UConn vs. (16) Idaho
UConn has had its ups and downs this season, but remember, the NCAA tournament is a fresh start for this talented team. The Huskies shouldn't have any problem starting off on the right track with a win over Idaho in the opening round.
(8) Vanderbilt vs. (9) St. Joseph's
Saint Joseph's had a solid season this year, finishing with an 11-3 mark in the Atlantic 10. But the bottom line here is that while St. Joseph's was beating up on the Rhode Islands and Richmonds of the world, Vanderbilt was going up against the likes of Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas A&M. That experience should help Vanderbilt land a win in this exciting opening round contest.
(5) Michigan State vs. (12) Marist
Doesn't it seem like every year when you fill out your women's bracket, you always find Marist in the NCAA tournament field? This year, they will have a tough matchup against a Michigan State team that has really improved down the stretch.
The Spartans had a huge upset win over Penn State in the conference tournament, which should leave them with plenty of momentum heading into this year's tournament.
Winner: Michigan State
(4) Maryland vs. (13) Quinnipiac
If this was a matchup of which team is more fun to pronounce, then Quinnipiac would win in a landslide. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, that won't be the case on the court. Even with a perfect 18-0 conference record this season, Quinnipiac will be overmatched by a Maryland team that has the talent to make a deep run in this tournament.
(6) Delaware vs. (11) West Virginia
If you don't know this name by now, you will by the end of this year's NCAA tournament. Elena Delle Donne is one of the top players in the country, and if it weren't for Brittney Griner and for her playing at a small school, Delle Donne would probably be the most talked-about player throughout college basketball.
She led her team to a perfect 18-0 record in conference play. In fact, this Delaware team hasn't lost since back in December. West Virginia is a good team, but Delle Donne will be too much for the Mountaineers in this matchup.
(3) North Carolina vs. (14) Albany (NY)
North Carolina is one of the top teams throughout college basketball and could be an Elite Eight team when it is all said and done. The Tar Heels will match up against an Albany team that is used to winning, but just doesn't have the big-game experience to hang around in this contest.
Winner: North Carolina
(7) Dayton vs. (10) St. John's
I know that the Atlantic 10 isn't a power conference, but how is a 27-2 Dayton team rewarded with just a No. 7 seed? This is a talented team and one that has the chance to make a name for itself in this year's NCAA tournament. Look for the Flyers to make quick work of this St. John's team.
(2) Kentucky vs. (15) Navy
Kentucky started the year on a roll, winning 18 of its first 19 games this season. The Wildcats are explosive on the offensive end and have showed that they can score with just about any team in the country. Look for this Kentucky team to possibly top the 100-point mark in its first-round matchup here against Navy. Yes, they are that good.