The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hold the top seed in the Lexington region of this year’s NCAA Women’s bracket, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
Head coach Muffet McGraw’s squad hasn’t lost a game since mid-January, and that was one of just three games they’ve dropped all season. They have three scorers averaging double figures and they outscore their opponents by an average of more than 18 points per game.
In the month of March, though, statistics only carry you so far. Let’s take a look at what the Lexington region has to offer and see who I have advancing:
Round of 64:
#1 Notre Dame / #16 Robert Morris
#2 Stanford / #15 New Mexico St.
#3 Texas / #14 Central Ark.
#4 Kentucky / #13 Belmont
Four of Belmont’s starters average double figures in scoring, but the Bruins haven’t faced any competition of Kentucky’s caliber all season.
#5 Ohio State / #12 Western Ky.
Coming off an 11-point loss to Purdue in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, the Buckeyes will look to bounce back in a big way nationally.
#6 NC State / #11 Auburn
The Wolfpack finished the season 22-8, but won big games against Notre Dame, Florida State and Louisville.
#7 Kansas State / #10 Drake
The Drake Bulldogs started the season a bit shaky, but hit their stride and won their last 22 games. They also went undefeated (13-0) at home.
#8 Green Bay / #9 Purdue
Watch out for Mehryn Kraker, espnW’s mid-major player of the year, and the Phoenix. They’re coming off a Horizon League championship and lost by just four to Notre Dame early in the season.
Okay, so not too many upsets there. But what about moving forward?
Round of 32:
#1 Notre Dame / #8 Green Bay
It’s a shame for the Phoenix that they have to face the Fighting Irish so quickly. They’ve got undeniable talent and tournament experience (this will be their third consecutive trip to the Big Dance), but Notre Dame’s power will likely be too much for them to handle.
#2 Stanford / #10 Drake
#3 Texas / #6 NC State
#4 Kentucky / #5 Ohio State
The Buckeyes may have a lower rank, but junior Kelsey Mitchell puts up a Big Ten-leading 23 points per game. Kentucky also lost two of their last three games.
#1 Notre Dame / #5 Ohio State
#2 Stanford / #6 NC State
Notre Dame and Stanford are both tournament veterans and should be able to get the job done.
#1 Notre Dame / #2 Stanford
The Cardinal may have gotten the better of the matchup in last year’s tourney, but the Fighting Irish’s Brianna Turner, who boasts team-leading averages in points (15.6) and rebounds (7.2), will be a force to be reckoned with.