Greensboro, NC — The bracket is set and the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament is set to tip off Wednesday at 1 PM EST. Notre Dame has been crowned the ACC Tournament Champions in the last four outings, but this year, Louisville hopes to spoil the Irish's quest for five.
The ACC is the strongest conference in women's college hoops according to the latest NCAA RPI rankings. With three teams in the top-5 RPI and eight in the top-50, the league has shown to be the most exciting this season.
The ACC finished the regular season with five teams ranked in the AP Top 25. Louisville leads the way at No. 4, followed by Notre Dame at No. 5. Florida State finished at No. 11, Duke at 18 and NC State at 23. The top of the ACC has been strong with eight teams collecting 10 or more wins in league play and six teams grabbing 20 or more wins on the season.
The conference is also home to some of women's hoops most exciting players. From Asia Durr to Shakayla Thomas, Myisha Hines-Allen, and Arike Ogunbowale. The ACC is no stranger to electrifying players. Just this week, two ACC players were named to the Naismith Watch List of 10 semifinalists, Durr and Ogunbowale.
But, the biggest conversation going into the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament; Will Louisville take Notre Dame's crown?? Or will Notre Dame avenge its 30-point blowout??
This year, a new face is on top. The Louisville Cardinals have ousted Notre Dame for the coveted one seed. The Cardinals dismantled a diminished Fighting Irish team in a 100-67 decision. While both teams finished 15-1 in the conference, Louisville's blowout in early January gave the Cardinals the tiebreaker.
Louisville has had a stand out season, cementing itself in the top-10 wire to wire. The Cardinals won its first 20 games of the season compiling wins against Ohio State, Michigan, Oregon, Duke and Notre Dame. Louisville's only conference loss came to then No. 12 Florida State Seminoles in late January. While the Cardinals success came as no shock to the team, Louisville was pegged to finish second in the conference to the Irish.
The Cardinals won its first ACC Regular Season title after defeating Pitt on Sunday. Louisville and Notre Dame were co-champions of the regular season. The Cardinals head into tournament play with a 29 -2 record, with losses to Florida State and UConn.
While the Fighting Irish have been plagued with injuries this season, its resume speaks for itself. With the No. 1 strength of schedule in the nation, the Fighting Irish have played 10 AP Top 25 teams, including three top-5 teams. Notre Dame had early wins against Oregon State, South Florida, Michigan and South Carolina before falling to UConn.
As previously mentioned, the Fighting Irish played with a depleted roster. Notre Dame had three players tear their ACL this season; senior Mychal Johnson, freshman Mikayla Vaughn and graduate transfer Lili Thompson. Down three bench players, the Irish had to look to its starting five for extended playing time. Based on Notre Dame's 27 - 2 overall record, the Irish fared pretty well.
Sitting at the third seed, Florida State is looking to pull an upset. The Seminoles got its big win knocking out then No. 2 Louisville in a 50-49 decision. Florida State's dynamic duo, Shakayla Thomas, and Imani Wright were named to the All ACC First Team. The Seminoles were pegged to finish fourth in league play behind Duke. However, Florida State finished third, a spot higher than expected.
The Duke Blue Devils are also entering tournament play wearing glass slippers. The Blue Devils dropped its first two conference games to Miami and Louisville. But, when senior Rebecca Greenwell returned from injury against NC State, Duke looked like a rejuvenated team winning its following four matches.
Greenwell is averaging 14.2 points, knocking down 64 triples in 24 games played. Duke also features one of the top players in the country with Lexie Brown. Brown is averaging a league-best 20.3 points per game.
With Florida State and Duke looking to cause chaos and Louisville trying to dethrone Notre Dame, the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament is set to be the best yet.
Check out the matchups below:
Wednesday, Feb. 28
Game No. 1 –No. 12 North Carolina vs. No. 13 Boston College, 1 p.m. (RSN)
Game No. 2 – No. 10 Georgia Tech vs. No. 15 Clemson, 3:30 p.m. (RSN)
Game No. 3 – No. 11 Wake Forest vs. No. 14 Pitt, 6:30 p.m. (RSN)
Thursday, March 1
Game No. 4 – No. 5 NC State vs. Winner of Game No. 1, 11 a.m. (RSN)
Game No. 5 – No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech, 2 p.m. (RSN)
Game No. 6 – No. 7 Virginia vs. Winner of Game No. 2, 6 p.m. (RSN)
Game No. 7 – No. 6 Miami vs. Winner of Game No. 3, 8 p.m. (RSN)
Friday, March 2
Game No. 8 – No. 4 Duke vs. Winner of Game No. 4, 11 a.m. (RSN)
Game No. 9 – No. 1 Louisville vs. Winner of Game 5, 2 p.m. (RSN)
Game No. 10 – No. 2 Notre Dame vs. Winner of Game No. 6, 6 p.m. (RSN)
Game No. 11 – No. 3 Florida State vs. Winner of Game No. 7, 8 p.m. (RSN)
Saturday, March 3
Game No. 12 - ACC Semifinal No. 1, Noon (ESPNU)
Game No. 13 - ACC Semifinal No. 2, 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sunday, March 4
Game No. 14 - Championship Game, 2 p.m. (ESPN2)