Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (2024)

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Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch

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Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (3)

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  • Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (4)

    Charlie Creme, ESPN.comMar 31, 2024, 04:00 AM

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      Charlie Creme projects the women's NCAA tournament bracket for ESPN.com.

The Iowa Hawkeyes and Texas Longhorns cruised. The South Carolina Gameco*cks and USC Trojans had to sweat. The Elite Eight in the 2024 women's NCAA tournament is set, and all the No. 1 seeds made it through. The same can't be said for the No. 2 seeds, which have all been eliminated.

Four No. 3 seeds also advanced, but they are similar in seed alone.

The UConn Huskies are the winningest program in the sport's history. The LSU Tigers are the defending national champions. Both have Hall of Fame coaches as well as players in Paige Bueckers and Angel Reese who are household names.

The NC State Wolfpack, meanwhile, were picked to finish eighth in the ACC. The outlook for the Oregon State Beavers was even worse -- 10th in the Pac-12. When the season opened, they might not have been even expected to be in the tournament.

The other side of the bracket delivered what most expected and the potential matchups many pointed to on Selection Sunday: LSU vs. Iowa, JuJu vs. Paige.

It all makes for must-see TV in the Elite Eight, which tips off Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ABC.

With all the No. 1 seeds still alive, the top-line stays the same with a simple swap of Iowa and USC. The No. 2 seeds are now a reshuffle of the four 3-seeds.

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (5)

No. 1 seeds

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (6)play

Caitlin Clark's 29-point double-double fuels Iowa win

Caitlin Clark does it all with 29 points, 15 assists and 6 rebounds as Iowa cruises to an Elite Eight berth over Colorado.

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (7)

South Carolina Gameco*cks
Original seed: No. 1 overall (Region 1 in Albany)
NCAA tournament results: Defeated 16-seed Presbyterian 91-39; defeated 8-seed North Carolina 88-41; defeated 4-seed Indiana 79-75

For the second time in five games, the Gameco*cks gave up a big lead and got a significant scare. Tennessee erased a 23-point lead in the SEC tournament semifinals before falling on Kamilla Cardoso's game-winning 3-pointer. In the Sweet 16, Indiana shot its way back from 22 down to get within two before South Carolina was able to finish the job thanks to a big shot by Raven Johnson. The Gameco*cks are in the Elite Eight for the fourth straight year and remain the top team left in the field, even if the air of invincibility as the only unbeaten team in college basketball seems gone. Cardoso and Johnson are the two players who had significant roles on last year's team and returned. That experience proved invaluable against Indiana and could be even more vital going forward. Johnson's 3-pointer Friday might have saved the season, and Cardoso's 22 points on 10-for-12 shooting led the way. Expect even more touches for Cardoso on Sunday against Oregon State.

Up next: 3-seed Oregon State (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, ABC)

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (8)

Texas Longhorns
Original seed: No. 1 (Region 4 in Portland)
NCAA tournament results: Defeated 16-seed Drexel 82-42; defeated 8-seed Alabama 65-54; defeated 4-seed Gonzaga 69-47

After the third quarter against Gonzaga, Vic Schaefer remarked on how hard his Longhorns were playing. That means plenty coming from a coach who sets such a high bar for effort. The Texas defense hounded one of the best shooting teams in the country into its lowest field goal percentage of the season (26.5%). The Zags' 47 points were 21 below their previous low for a game this season. It was complete dominance for the Longhorns, and Her Hoop Stats rates them as the third-best defensive team in the country behind South Carolina and UConn. The Longhorns will need big games from Madison Booker moving forward to have a chance at a title, but the defense was so good Friday it didn't matter that the freshman point guard, who was battling foul trouble, had just six points (her lowest total since late November) in 25 unproductive minutes. The potentially scary part for the rest of the Elite Eight is that two of Booker's three lowest point totals of the season have come in the NCAA tournament -- and Texas has trailed for a total of 3 minutes, 41 seconds.

Up next: 3-seed NC State (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, ABC)

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (9)play

Chiney: LSU fuels themselves by thinking they are the villains

Chiney Ogwumike and Andraya Carter break down LSU calling themselves the villains in college basketball.

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (10)

Iowa Hawkeyes
Original seed: No. 1 (Region 2 in Albany)
NCAA tournament results: Defeated Holy Cross 91-65; defeated West Virginia 64-54; defeated 5-seed Colorado 89-68

The quality of an Iowa performance can usually be measured in the number of assists for Caitlin Clark. Rate Saturday's win over Colorado an A, and it's further proof that Clark's scoring isn't the entire story. Clark's 15 assists were the most she has had in an NCAA tournament game and tied a season high. It's no surprise, then, that five Hawkeyes scored in double figures, led by Clark's 29 points. Clark has led the nation in assists two of the past three seasons, and Iowa is 19-1 this season when she reaches double figures in a game (with the surprising loss at Nebraska the lone deviation). She had a season-low three assists in a loss to Kansas State as well as in the second-round escape against West Virginia. As many fans might have hoped when the bracket was released two weeks ago, a 2023 national championship game rematch with LSU is now a reality. Clark had eight assists in the title game loss to the Tigers 51 weeks ago. She also had 30 points but took 19 of her 22 field goal attempts from 3-point territory. On Saturday, 11 of her 22 shots were from beyond the arc; over the course of the rest of the campaign, it was six out of every 10 shots. The numbers on Clark sometimes seem endless, but these are some to watch for Monday.

Up next: 1-seed LSU (Monday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (11)

USC Trojans
Original seed: No. 1 (Region 3 in Portland)
NCAA tournament results: Defeated 16-seed 87-55; defeated 8-seed Kansas 73-55; defeated 5-seed Baylor 74-70

Lisa Leslie was a senior. Tina Thompson was a freshman. Cheryl Miller was the coach. The year was 1994, and current Trojans coach Lindsay Gottlieb was a high school senior in Scarsdale, New York. It was also the last time USC made it this far in the NCAA tournament. The 2024 version of the Trojans doesn't have the volume of 1994's star power, but USC has an enormous star in JuJu Watkins. Despite another tough shooting night (8-for-28 from the field), Watkins again delivered when it mattered most. She had nine straight USC points during a critical stretch of the fourth quarter after Baylor had taken a lead. She had two big blocks and an assist on the last field goal for USC that she didn't score. Her 30 points included 12-of-13 from the free throw line, a place where she lives as the nation's leader in attempts. McKenzie Forbes has had some big moments late in the season, but it's difficult to not focus on Watkins, who also leads the country in usage rate. If college basketball had a most valuable player award, Clark and Watkins would be in a dead heat.

Up next: 3-seed UConn (Monday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 2 seeds

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (12)play

Bueckers' 24 points lifts UConn to the Elite Eight

Despite a poor shooting night, Paige Bueckers scores 24 points to lead UConn past Duke and to the Elite Eight.

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (13)

LSU Tigers
Original seed: No. 3 (Region 2 in Albany)
NCAA tournament results: Defeated 14-seed Rice 70-60; defeated 11-seed Middle Tennessee 83-56; defeated 2-seed UCLA 78-69

LSU was the preseason No. 1 because of its talent up and down the roster. So far in this NCAA tournament, and in particular on Saturday against UCLA, Flau'jae Johnson has illustrated just how deep that talent goes. The Tigers' fourth-leading scorer during the rest of the campaign (14.2 points per game), Johnson has led LSU in scoring through the tournament's first three games (19.6 PPG). Against the Bruins, she was the best player on the court for either team. Her 24 points came in a variety of ways: driving layups, pull-up jumpers, spin moves and two 3-pointers in two attempts. Johnson scored seven points in the fourth quarter of a game LSU trailed by a point with 2:27 left. Johnson also had a key block that ended UCLA's comeback attempt. With Johnson playing this well, Angel Reese producing her 15th consecutive double-double and Aneesah Morrow and Mikaylah Williams also scoring in double figures, the Tigers' ability to defend their national title looks as strong as it has all season. And now they have to go through Iowa, the team they beat for the 2023 championship, just to get to the Final Four.

Up next: 1-seed Iowa (Monday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (14)play

Oregon State seals win with late go-ahead bucket, crucial block

Raegan Beers sinks a layup on one end and Talia von Oelhoffen erases a shot on the other to seal Oregon State's win over Notre Dame.

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (15)

UConn Huskies
Original seed: No. 3 (Region 3 in Portland)
NCAA tournament results: Defeated 14-seed Jackson State 86-64; defeated 6-seed Syracuse 72-64; defeated 7-seed Duke 53-45

Heading into the regionals, Geno Auriemma said his team was in a much better place physically and mentally than a year ago. That 2023 Sweet 16 game resulted in disappointing loss to Ohio State that ended the Huskies' NCAA-record string of 14 consecutive Final Fours. Feeling better made a difference, and UConn is one game away from starting a new streak. Bueckers' brilliance (24 points against Duke), Aaliyah Edwards' steadiness (14.3 PPG in three tournament games) and Nika Muhl's maturity (20 assists to nine turnovers in the tournament) helped UConn survive a grueling game against Duke. The Huskies' ability to beat USC might depend on the quality of rest they get before Monday's contest. Bueckers, Muhl and KK Arnold played all 40 minutes on Saturday. Ice Brady is the only substitute Auriemma has used in the past two outings, and UConn's bench has played a total of 62 minutes (52 by Brady) during the tourney. Edwards finished Saturday's game with four fouls, and her ability to stay on the floor will be a big factor against the Trojans.

Up next: 1-seed USC (Monday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (16)play

NC State dominates second half to down Stanford and head to Elite Eight

Trailing by 10 at halftime, No. 3 NC State comes out hot in the second half and ends up defeating No. 2 Stanford 77-67 for a trip to the Elite Eight.

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (17)

Oregon State Beavers
Original seed: No. 3 (Region 1 in Albany)
NCAA tournament results: Defeated 14-seed Eastern Washington 73-51; defeated 6-seed Nebraska 61-51; defeated 2-seed Notre Dame 70-65

Shooting efficiency and rebounding. Those are the reasons the Beavers are in their first Elite Eight since 2018 and their third in school history. Oregon State made 60.4% of its shots and outrebounded the Irish 42-24. That made up for 26 turnovers. The minus-21 turnover margin was tied for the worst by a winner of an NCAA tournament game in 25 years. But the Beavers did about everything else right. They rode sophom*ore Raegan Beers in the first half (where she scored 12 of her 18 points) and freshman Timea Gardiner in the second (12 of her 21). Beers is the nation's leader in field goal percentage at 66.4% and has been even better in the NCAA tournament, making 22 of 27 shots. The 6-foot-4 Beers and the 6-7 Cardoso battling in the post could be one of the most compelling individual matchups of the tournament.

Up next: 1-seed South Carolina (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, ABC)

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (18)

NC State Wolfpack
Original seed: No. 3 (Region 4 in Portland)
NCAA tournament results: Defeated 14-seed Chattanooga 64-45; defeated 6-seed Tennessee 79-72; defeated 2-seed Stanford 77-67

If the adage "good guard play wins in March" is true, no further explanation is needed as to why the Wolfpack have reached the third Elite Eight in program history. The trio of Aziaha James, Saniya Rivers and Zoe Brooks took control of the Sweet 16 matchup with Stanford in the second half, overwhelming the Cardinal guards. James was particularly dominant, scoring 25 of her 29 points after halftime. NC State entered the NCAA tournament with a sputtering offense; the backcourt trio hadn't scored in double figures in the same game since Feb. 25. Now they have done it back-to-back in the two biggest games of the year. The key to the Wolfpack offense is its transition game, something James, Rivers and Brooks have unlocked again. They have 40 fast-break points in the wins over Tennessee and Stanford. Not coincidentally, the up-tempo success has helped produce the best consecutive-game offensive output for NC State since early January.

Up next: 1-seed Texas (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, ABC)

Reseeding the women's Elite Eight: The 1s to watch (2024)
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