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2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: Kansas City Regional Preview

Mississippi State headlines the Kansas City regional, but there’ll be plenty of competition for the right to advance to the Final Four.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Ohio State vs Maryland Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament’s about to get started! Here’s our quick rundown previewing the action in the Kansas City Regional!

Starkville, MS

(1) Mississippi State [32-1 overall, 16-0 SEC] vs. No. 16 Nicholls State [19-13 overall, 11-7 Southland]

. MSU Nicholls State
. MSU Nicholls State
Points per game 82 65.7
Opponent points per game 55.7 63.8
FG% 47.1 40.5
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]

. Syracuse Oklahoma State
. Syracuse Oklahoma State
Points per game 73.6 78.9
Opponent points per game 66 67.8
FG% 40.6 42.2
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.

Raleigh, NC

(5) Maryland [25-7 overall, 12-4 Big Ten] vs. (12) Princeton [24-5 overall, 12-2 Ivy]

. Maryland Princeton
. Maryland Princeton
Points per game 80.3 68
Opponent points per game 64.1 54.3
FG% 45.8 43.3
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]

. NC State Elon
. NC State Elon
Points per game 67 72.4
Opponent points per game 57.4 57.3
FG% 39.9 44.9
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.

LA, CA

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]

. Iowa Creighton
. Iowa Creighton
Points per game 79 69.6
Opponent points per game 68.6 66.7
FG% 49 43.1
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]

. UCLA American
. UCLA American
Points per game 75.1 64.3
Opponent points per game 62.4 66.2
FG% 42.6 41.9
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.

Austin, TX

(7) Arizona State [21-12 overall, 10-8 Pac-12] vs. (10) Nebraska [21-10 overall, 11-5 Big Ten]

. Arizona State Nebraska
. Arizona State Nebraska
Points per game 67.8 62.8
Opponent points per game 56.8 76.3
FG% 44.4 38.7
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]

. Texas Maine
. Texas Maine
Points per game 80.7 65.8
Opponent points per game 63.8 55.8
FG% 46.2 42.2
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.