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2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: Lexington Regional Preview

How do the teams stack up?

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Oklahoma City Regional-Baylor vs Louisville Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the NCAA released the full bracket for the 2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. The initial bracket is divided into 4 regions: Albany, Knoxville, Lexington, and Spokane. The Lexington regional, hosted by #1 seed Louisville, includes some big names in women’s basketball, including Tennessee and Baylor. So how do these teams match up against each other?

Louisville

(1) Louisville Cardinals [32-2 overall, 15-1 ACC] vs. (16) Boise State Broncos [23-9 overall, 14-4 Mountain West]

. Louisville Boise State
. Louisville Boise State
Points per game 76.6 69.2
Opponent points per game 56.9 61.4
FG% 0.48 0.431
Rebounds per game 38.3 38.5
Opponent rebounds per game 31.1 32.5
Turnovers per game 14 16

Louisville comes into the NCAA Tournament on a 7 game winning streak. The Cardinals have lost only 2 games this season: a 1-point loss to FSU and an 11 point loss to undefeated UConn. Boise State, meanwhile, has won 10 straight games heading into this matchup... but doesn’t have the strength of schedule that Louisville does. It would be a surprise if Louisville doesn’t win this one.

(8) Marquette Golden Eagles [23-9 overall, 15-3 Big East] vs. (9) Dayton Flyers [23-6 overall, 15-1 Atlantic 10]

. Marquette Dayton
. Marquette Dayton
Points per game 80.3 73.6
Opponent points per game 70.3 61.4
FG% 0.455 0.428
Rebounds per game 38.5 43.2
Opponent rebounds per game 35.3 37.1
Turnovers per game 13 13.3

Marquette is coming off of a Big East Tournament loss to DePaul, after splitting the regular season series with the Blue Demons 1-1 during the regular season. Meanwhile, Dayton was knocked out of the Atlantic 10 Tournament by a #5 George Washington team that the Flyers beat twice during the regular season. Both teams will be looking for redemption in the NCAA Tournament.

Stanford

(5) Missouri Tigers [24-7 overall, 11-5 SEC] vs. (12) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles [30-4 overall, 13-1 Atlantic Sun)

. Missouri Florida Gulf Coast
. Missouri Florida Gulf Coast
Points per game 69.7 78.4
Opponent points per game 60.4 59.3
FG% 0.459 0.441
Rebounds per game 39.2 36.6
Opponent rebounds per game 30.5 34.8
Turnovers per game 14.8 12.1

Mizzou heads into the regionals after being knocked out of the SEC Tournament by a Georgia team that the Tigers struggled with all season. However, Mizzou has the talent to beat good teams and had a big upset victory over South Carolina earlier this season. Florida Gulf Coast will be coming into this match-up on a high, despite being the underdog. The Eagles are on a 10 game winning streak and just defeated Jacksonville to win the 2018 Atlantic Sun Tournament.

(4) Stanford Cardinal [22-10 overall, 14-2 Pac-12] vs. (13) Gonzaga Bulldogs [27-5 overall, 17-1 WCC]

. Stanford Gonzaga
. Stanford Gonzaga
Points per game 68 72.4
Opponent points per game 61.5 58.8
FG% 0.419 0.437
Rebounds per game 40.9 39.7
Opponent rebounds per game 36.5 34.8
Turnovers per game 14.5 13.5

Stanford has the benefit of hosting the first 2 rounds for these 4 teams. And the Cardinal should be coming into this game ready to fight after suffering a 20 point loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament. Meanwhile, Gonzaga will be coming into this game with a lot of confidence after winning the WCC Tournament. This should still be a winnable game for Stanford, but they’ll need to shake off their last loss.

Knoxville

(6) Oregon State Beavers [23-7 overall, 14-4 Pac-12] vs. (11) Western Kentucky Lady Toppers [24-8 overall, 12-4 CUSA]

. Oregon State Western Kentucky
. Oregon State Western Kentucky
Points per game 73.6 75.8
Opponent points per game 58.1 62.9
FG% 0.487 0.431
Rebounds per game 42.4 38.2
Opponent rebounds per game 32.2 35.6
Turnovers per game 14.2 11.1

After 2 regular season victories over Arizona State, Oregon State suffered a surprising 6 point defeat by the Sun Devils in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. Sometimes teams that have had a longer rest period between tournament games can struggle at first, so the Beavers will need to come into this one fresh and ready to fight. On the other hand, Western Kentucky just beat UAB to become the 2018 CUSA champions. The Lady Hilltoppers are the underdogs here, but don’t count them out just yet.

(3) Tennessee Lady Volunteers [24-7 overall, 11-5 SEC] vs. (14) Liberty Lady Flames [24-9 overall, 16-2 Big South]

. Tennessee Liberty
. Tennessee Liberty
Points per game 77.5 64.8
Opponent points per game 64.4 53.7
FG% 0.448 0.44
Rebounds per game 44 38
Opponent rebounds per game 35.4 28.8
Turnovers per game 16.6 15.8

Tennessee’s season ended with an SEC Tournament loss to South Carolina, but the Lady Vols’ season also included a pair of victories over South Carolina and a win over Georgia. It seems silly to call Tennessee a dark horse pick, but they are certainly one to watch for upsets. Liberty is a team that really picked things up after a slow start to the season, culminating in a Big South Championship victory. The Lady Vols are clear favorites in this match-up, however.

Waco

(7) Michigan Wolverines [22-9 overall, 10-6 Big Ten] vs. (10) Northern Colorado Bears [26-6 overall, 14-3 Big Sky]

. Michigan Northern Colorado
. Michigan Northern Colorado
Points per game 75.5 69.7
Opponent points per game 62 63.3
FG% 0.472 0.443
Rebounds per game 39.7 31.7
Opponent rebounds per game 30.6 36.2
Turnovers per game 16.3 13.9

Michigan was a bit up and down at the end of the season, and the Wolverines’ last game was a Big Ten Tournament loss to Nebraska. Michigan does have wins against Marquette, Maryland, and Ohio State this season, but overall has struggled against top teams. Northern Colorado is coming into this game ready to pick up an upset after winning 13 games in a row, including a Big Sky Championship final victory. The question is whether or not the Bears can keep up their winning ways against teams from stronger conferences.

(2) Baylor Lady Bears [31-1 overall, 18-0 Big 12] vs. (15) Grambling State Tigers [19-13 overall, 13-5 SWAC]

. Baylor Grambling State
. Baylor Grambling State
Points per game 86.6 67
Opponent points per game 55.9 67.2
FG% 0.512 0.399
Rebounds per game 48.8 35.6
Opponent rebounds per game 30.1 43.8
Turnovers per game 13.3 17.5

The always strong Lady Bears earned the #2 seed in the region after going 18-0 in the Big-12 and dropping only 1 game all season (to UCLA). Baylor is coming off of a dominating performance in the Big-12 Tournament, where they won each game by an average of 28 points. If anybody is going to beat Louisville to get the the Final Four, chances are it’ll be Baylor. Grambling State is a huge underdog in this match-up, but the Tigers did just defeat the #1 seeded Southern to win the SWAC Tournament.

Who are you rooting for in Lexington? Who do you think will win? Let us know in the comments!