The NCAA Tournament’s about to get started! Here’s our quick rundown previewing the action in the Kansas City Regional!
(1) Mississippi State [32-1 overall, 16-0 SEC] vs. No. 16 Nicholls State [19-13 overall, 11-7 Southland]
|Points per game||82||65.7|
|Opponent points per game||55.7||63.8|
|Rebounds per game||37.6||36.1|
|Opponent rebounds per game||32.5||38.8|
|Turnovers per game||10.6||17.8|
Playing on their home court, Mississippi State should have no trouble making it past Nicholls State on Saturday evening at 6 p.m., on ESPN 2. They’ll look forward to taking on the winner of Syracuse vs. Oklahoma.
(8) Syracuse [22-8 overall, 10-6 ACC] vs. (9) Oklahoma State [20-10 overall, 11-7 Big 12]
|Points per game||73.6||78.9|
|Opponent points per game||66||67.8|
|Rebounds per game||39.1||38.6|
|Opponent rebounds per game||39||38.1|
|Turnovers per game||14.4||16|
The opening game of the Starkville pod, tipping off at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2, Syracuse vs. Oklahoma State should be an exciting contest between two evenly matched teams. Senior forward Kaylee Jensen (18.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG) alongside point guard and graduate transfer, Loryn Goodwin (20.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 5.3 APG) lead the way for OSU while sophomore guard Tiana Mangakahia paces the Orange with her 17.8 PPG.
(5) Maryland [25-7 overall, 12-4 Big Ten] vs. (12) Princeton [24-5 overall, 12-2 Ivy]
|Points per game||80.3||68|
|Opponent points per game||64.1||54.3|
|Rebounds per game||42.4||39.6|
|Opponent rebounds per game||34.7||32.1|
|Turnovers per game||14.1||14.4|
Maryland is a solid team that played a tough schedule in and out of conference and has a few more losses than normal as a result,. Princeton was the winner of the Ivy League, but will have its hands full trying to stop the Terrapin offense. This game tips off on March 16 at noon on ESPN 2.
(4) NC State [24-8 overall, 11-5 ACC] vs. (13) Elon [25-7 overall, 14-4 CAA]
|Points per game||67||72.4|
|Opponent points per game||57.4||57.3|
|Rebounds per game||42.6||42.2|
|Opponent rebounds per game||32.5||34.3|
|Turnovers per game||14.5||17.5|
NC State was a surprise success story in the ACC. The Wolfpack should be able to keep Elon in control and advance to an interesting matchup with conference rival Maryland. The Phoenix are led by Shay Burnett, who is the team leader in points, rebounds, and assists per game. This game tips off on March 16 at noon.
No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Creighton
(6) Iowa [24-7 overall, 11-5 Big Ten] vs. (11) Creighton [18-12 overall, 11-7 Big East]
|Points per game||79||69.6|
|Opponent points per game||68.6||66.7|
|Rebounds per game||42.3||35.8|
|Opponent rebounds per game||35.9||36.5|
|Turnovers per game||16.2||12.2|
Creighton earned an at-large berth out of the Big East and will have a solid chance of pulling off the upset against Iowa in a game which will tip off at 6 p.m. on ESPN 2 on March 17. These two head coaches are quite familiar with each other, and have even had the pleasure of exchanging insurance information after a fender-bender in 2016. Megan Gustafson is by far the leading scorer for the Hawkeyes, at 25.6 PPG, and will need to have a great game every time out in order for Iowa to advance. Creighton is a more balanced team with four players in double-digit scoring.
(3) UCLA [24-7 overall, 14-4 Pac-12] vs. (14) American [26-6 overall, 16-2 Patriot]
|Points per game||75.1||64.3|
|Opponent points per game||62.4||66.2|
|Rebounds per game||42.2||34.9|
|Opponent rebounds per game||35.3||34.1|
|Turnovers per game||16.2||12.8|
American qualified as the winners of the Patriot League while UCLA has been one of the better teams in the country, earning a 3-seed and the right to host its regional pod. The Bruins, led by senior guard Jordin Canada, are the heavy favorite to advance to Kansas City from this group. This game tips off at 3:30 p.m. on March 17 and will be televised on ESPN2.
(7) Arizona State [21-12 overall, 10-8 Pac-12] vs. (10) Nebraska [21-10 overall, 11-5 Big Ten]
|Points per game||67.8||62.8|
|Opponent points per game||56.8||76.3|
|Rebounds per game||36.8||37.5|
|Opponent rebounds per game||29.9||40.1|
|Turnovers per game||11.8||17.6|
It’s rare to see a tournament team that has been handily outscored, outrebounded, and turns the ball over more than its opponents, but Nebraska is here anyway after a run to the Big Ten Tournament title game that ended in a loss to Maryland. Jessica Sheperd is the Cornhuskers’ leading scorer and rebounder while ASU has four players over 10 PPG and another close behind at 8.5 PPG. This game tips off at 3:50 p.m. on March 17.
(2) Texas [26-6 overall, 15-3 Big 12] vs. (15) Maine [23-9 overall, 13-3 American East]
|Points per game||80.7||65.8|
|Opponent points per game||63.8||55.8|
|Rebounds per game||43||36.3|
|Opponent rebounds per game||32.6||33.2|
|Turnovers per game||14.5||14.1|
Texas is one of the best teams in the country, and is a legitimate threat to knock off top-seeded Mississippi State. Maine shouldn’t present too touch of a challenge, and the Longhorns realistically should be able to make it past the winner of Arizona State/Maine without much difficulty either. This game starts at 6:00 p.m. on March 17.