The top two seeds in each region of the Women’s NCAA Tournament reached the Sweet 16 with no trouble over the past week, but that didn’t mean there weren’t a few surprises during the first two rounds of the women’s edition of March Madness.
As has been the case in most recent seasons, UConn is the team to beat, and they showed it in a first round win over St. Francis (Pennsylvania). The Huskies dominated their No. 16 seed opponent by scoring a tournament record 140 points, then followed that up by defeating Quinnipiac 71-46 in the second round. UConn (34-0) will now face No. 5 seed Duke (24-8) on Saturday.
MAC Schools Crash Sweet 16 Party
Probably the biggest story in the Albany region was the success enjoyed by Buffalo (29-5). The 11th-seeded Bulls first scored a win over the University of South Florida, then stunned No. 3 seed Florida State 86-65 to reach the first Sweet 16 in school history.
The win made Buffalo the first team from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) to reach the Sweet Sixteen since Bowling Green did so in 2007.
“We made history,” said Cierra Dillard, who scored 22 points in Buffalo’s second-round victory. “We’re going to the Sweet 16 and to be a mid-major. It’s an amazing feeling. This is the year of upsets and to be a part of that is great.”
Buffalo wasn’t alone in their mid-major success. Central Michigan (30-4), a MAC rival that also received a No. 11 seed, defeated third-seeded Ohio State 95-78 to advance to the Sweet 16 in the Spokane region.
Prior to this season, the Chippewas had never won an NCAA Tournament game in their history. Now, they are heading to the second week of the tournament, and did so by beating Ohio State on the Buckeyes’ home court.
“This team will not fold,” Central Michigan coach Sue Guevara said after the game. “This team is very tough, this team is very focused. We know what we had to do and we went out and did it.”
Top Seeds Still Dominating
In contrast, the Kansas City region saw few upsets, with all four of the top seeds advancing through to the Sweet 16. Top seed Mississippi State (34-1) overcame a slow start to beat Oklahoma State 71-56 in their second round matchup, and will now advance to play North Carolina State on Friday.
The same scenario nearly played out in the Lexington bracket, until one of the traditional powerhouses of women’s basketball was upset on their home court. Sixth-seeded Oregon State (25-7) defeated the Tennessee Lady Volunteers (25-8), coming from behind in the second half to score a 66-59 win. It marked the first time Tennessee lost a home game in the NCAA Tournament after 57 straight wins.
While all of the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds remain in the tournament, UConn is still considered an overwhelming favorite to win the national championship. According to analysis by FiveThirtyEight, the Huskies have a 74 percent chance of cutting down the nets, with Baylor being the second choice with just a 10 percent chance of winning it all.