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2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: Albany Regional Preview

Can anyone take down UConn?

NCAA Womens Basketball: AAC Conference Tournament-USF vs Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 Women’s NCAA Tournament kicks off tomorrow as 64 teams begin their quest for the national title. The Albany Region, hosted by the MAAC Conference, features the top overall seed UConn Huskies as well as the defending national champion No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks.

So how do all of the teams match up?

Storrs, CT

(1) UConn Huskies [32-0 overall, 16-0 AAC] vs. (16) St. Francis (PA) Red Flash [24-9 overall, 16-2 NEC]

UConn St. Francis (PA)
UConn St. Francis (PA)
Points per game 88.8 80.8
Opponent points per game 51.9 71.2
FG% 0.529 0.40
Rebounds per game 41.7 41.2
Opponent rebounds per game 31.6 42.7
Turnovers per game 12.4 16.4

As has become the norm come March, UConn is once again the team to beat in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies just finished up their 10th undefeated regular season and are the No. 1 overall seed for the fifth-straight year. St. Francis (PA) makes their 12th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where they have met UConn twice before in 1999 and 2004. The Red Flash have never won a game in the tournament and the Huskies haven’t lost their opening game since 1993. Don’t expect an upset here.

(8) Miami Hurricanes [21-10 overall, 10-6 ACC] vs. (9) Quinnipiac Bobcats [27-5 overall, 18-0 MAAC]

Miami Quinnipiac
Miami Quinnipiac
Points per game 71.0 72.2
Opponent points per game 63.4 58.2
FG% .429 .409
Rebounds per game 39.4 38.1
Opponent rebounds per game 36.6 37.4
Turnovers per game 17.5 12.0

Last season, Quinnipiac upset Miami in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on the Hurricanes’ home court. This year, the story is flipped as the Bobcats have a de-facto home game just an hour from their campus. Miami will look for revenge for last year while Quinnipiac will try to show last year’s Cinderella run wasn’t a fluke.

Athens, GA

(5) Duke Blue Devils [22-8 overall, 11-5 ACC] vs. (12) Belmont Bruins [31-3 overall, 18-0 OVC]

Duke Belmont
Duke Belmont
Points per game 69.1 78.2
Opponent points per game 56.3 59.3
FG% .459 .465
Rebounds per game 38.1 42.6
Opponent rebounds per game 32.8 33.1
Turnovers per game 15.4 12.2

Belmont comes into the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the nation, winners of 22-straight dating back to December. Of the Bruins three losses, two came to Oklahoma and Stanford while the other was in-conference. Duke held a respectable record through a tough ACC but fell in the first round of the conference tournament to NC State. 5/12 games are always primed for an upset and this one is no different.

(4) Georgia Bulldogs [25-6 overall, 12-4 SEC] vs. (13) Mercer Bears [30-2 overall, 14-0 Southern]

Georgia Mercer
Georgia Mercer
Points per game 67.8 70.9
Opponent points per game 57.2 54.5
FG% .420 .441
Rebounds per game 39.8 34.8
Opponent rebounds per game 32.8 35.7
Turnovers per game 15.1 9.2

This won’t be the first meeting between Georgia and Mercer this season as the two teams faced off back in November, with the Bulldogs taking a 72-54 victory. Since then, Georgia finished as the third-best team in the SEC behind Mississippi State and South Carolina while the Bears lost their next game before winning the last 27 straight. Similar to Belmont, Mercer is going to be a tough out for a quality power conference team.

Tallahassee, FL

(6) USF Bulls [26-7 overall, 13-3 AAC] vs. (11) Buffalo Bulls [27-5 overall, 16-2 MAC]

USF Buffalo
USF Buffalo
Points per game 75.1 77.5
Opponent points per game 61.8 64.2
FG% .431 .431
Rebounds per game 43.2 42.9
Opponent rebounds per game 33.3 39.0
Turnovers per game 12.6 16.1

Many people felt USF was under-seeded by the committee as the Bulls have just four non-UConn losses, two of which came at the hands of Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Buffalo, meanwhile, was one of the last four teams in after falling in the MAC Tournament championship game. USF should have the edge in this because they’re better than their record and are playing just four hours away from their Tampa base, in Tallahassee.

(3) Florida State Seminoles [25-6 overall, 12-4 ACC] vs. (14) Little Rock Trojans [23-9 overall, 17-1 Sun Belt]

Florida State Little Rock
Florida State Little Rock
Points per game 81.2 60.0
Opponent points per game 64.1 52.6
FG% .457 .430
Rebounds per game 43.0 34.9
Opponent rebounds per game 33.1 31.9
Turnovers per game 13.3 14.6

It will be a battle of offense versus defense as Florida State features the 13th-best offense in the nation by points-per-game while Little Rock boats the sixth-best defense in the same metric. The Seminoles hold the advantage as their defense is stronger than the Trojan’s offense. Little Rock will need to slow the pace to have a shot at upsetting Florida State in their own building.

Columbia, SC

(7) Cal Golden Bears [21-10 overall, 11-7 Pac-12] vs. (10) Virginia Cavaliers [18-13 overall, 10-6 ACC]

Cal Virginia
Cal Virginia
Points per game 69.3 62.1
Opponent points per game 65.9 61.0
FG% .454 .406
Rebounds per game 38.3 36.8
Opponent rebounds per game 32.9 35.7
Turnovers per game 14.9 16.2

A battle between two mid-level power conference opponents, nothing sticks out about either team. Cal finished fifth in a good Pac-12 while Virginia finished 10th in the ACC. However, both teams are pretty even which should make for a good game down in Columbia.

(2) South Carolina Gamecocks [26-6 overall, 12-4 SEC] vs. (15) North Carolina A&T Aggies [23-8 overall, 15-1 MEAC]

South Carolina North Carolina A&T
South Carolina North Carolina A&T
Points per game 76.1 67.0
Opponent points per game 60.6 58.2
FG% .474 .376
Rebounds per game 40.6 44.9
Opponent rebounds per game 33.5 40.9
Turnovers per game 13.8 17.9

South Carolina kicks off its title defense against a North Carolina A&T team that has won 11 games in a row. However, the Gamecocks appear to be peaking at the right time as they survived a gauntlet of an SEC Tournament, defeating Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi State in three consecutive days to win the conference tournament. While the Aggies are playing well, they likely will not have enough talent to hang with South Carolina.

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