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NCAA Women’s Basketball Sweet Sixteen Preview: Lexington Region

Lousiville, Standord, Baylor, and Oregon State will battle it out to make it to the Elite 8

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Tournament - Notre Dame vs Louisville Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the Sweet Sixteen, the Lexington regional does not have the level of upsets that we’ve seen in Spokane and Albany. The 1, 2, and 4 seeds (Louisville, Baylor, and Stanford respectively) all made their way here with no trouble. The lone surprise in Lexington is Oregon State, a 6 seed that defeated a strong Tennessee team by 7 points to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. With 4 strong teams fighting to advance to the next round, this should be a pair of thrilling games to watch. Anything could happen, but here’s a preview of what to expect...

(1) Louisville Cardinals [34-2 overall, 15-1 ACC] vs. (4) Stanford Cardinal [24-10 overall, 14-3 Pac-12]

Louisville vs. Stanford, Via HerHoopStats

. Louisville Ranking Stanford Ranking
. Louisville Ranking Stanford Ranking
Overall Team Rating 5th 18th
HHS Offensive Rating 4th 24th
HHS Defensive Rating 5th 9th
Margin Per Game 4th (+19.9) 73rd (+7.1)
Total Rebound Rate 21st 49th
Turnovers Per Game 73rd 105th
Assisted Shot Rate 134th 250th

This is Stanford’s 11th straight and 25th overall Sweet Sixteen appearance. Louisville, meanwhile, has made only 8 Sweet Sixteens and has advanced to the Elite Eight only 3 times (Stanford has advanced on 19 occasions). Both teams dominated their opponents in the first and second rounds of play, meaning this will be the first real challenge of the tournament for both Cardinal and Cardinals.

Louisville is statistically the clear favorite to win this matchup, but Stanford has been playing better than ever this postseason. The Cardinal scored a season-best 90 points against FGCU in the second round in a 20 point victory. While Louisville has remained rock solid all season, Stanford struggled early on. The return of Brittney McPhee (who injured her foot early this season) has helped the Cardinal to rise back up in the rankings and get to where they are now. McPhee has 420 points in just 25 games this season, second on her team behind Alanna Smith (466). Meanwhile, Asia Durr leads Louisville with 649 points. These are both squads with a lot of scoring depth.

Louisville should be able to win this one, but don’t count Stanford out just yet. All told, this could be one of the best games of the 2018 Tournament.

(2) Baylor Lady Bears [33-1 overall, 18-0 Big 12] vs. (6) Oregon State Beavers [25-7 overall, 14-4 Pac-12]

Baylor vs. Oregon State, Via HerHoopStats

. Baylor Ranking Oregon State Ranking
. Baylor Ranking Oregon State Ranking
Overall Team Rating 2nd 17th
HHS Offensive Rating 2nd 14th
HHS Defensive Rating 3rd 20th
Margin Per Game 2nd (+31.0) 15th (+15.5)
Total Rebound Rate 1st 5th
Turnovers Per Game 45th 75th
Assisted Shot Rate 76th 6th

The Lady Bears enter their 13th Sweet Sixteen as the favorite to advance, and it would not be a surprise to see them make it to the Final Four. Baylor has not missed the Sweet Sixteen since 2008 and has advanced to the Elite Eight 4 years in a row. Oregon State is a big underdog in this matchup, but the Beavers picked up a surprise 7 point victory over 3 seed Tennessee to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. In contrast, Baylor beat Michigan and Grambling by an average of 36 points to advance.

Baylor is led by junior Kalani Brown, who has 683 points and 347 rebounds this season. Brown is 5th in the country with a 66% field goal percentage. Lauren Cox, who has 504 points and 87 blocks is another player to watch for the Lady Bears. Oregon State has less depth than Baylor, but the Beaver’s top player, Marie Gulich, has a respectable 555 points this year.

Oregon State is a talented team, but it would be a huge shock if Baylor lost this game... although stranger things have happened in sports.