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NCAAW Tournament Preview (Round 2, Day 2): Underdogs look to pull off major upsets as Sweet Sixteen is finalized

Last season, four teams defied their seeds to make the regional semifinals. Will any more lower-seeded teams join No. 5 Arizona State in the next round?

Armed with its best seed ever, No. 6 South Dakota State looks to make its first Sweet Sixteen with an upset of No. 3 Syracuse.
Courtesy of South Dakota State Athletics via Twitter

Where yesterday’s games were more about resilience, tonight’s are all about keeping the pressure turned up.

The final slate of second-round matchups ranges from power-conference stalwarts facing off in one-night crossover events to upstart mid-majors looking to knock off heavy favorites. Of course, all of these heavy favorites will be playing on their home courts, making their defeats an especially tall task.

But then, every underdog here knows how to get a road win. They wouldn’t be here without them — especially the mid-majors, who are used to needing to be near-perfect in every venue to get into the postseason at all. And with the way this tournament is formatted, that’s what any early-round win against a top-four seed is: just another big road win.

From a Maryland-UCLA matchup with decades of history behind it, to Stanford facing down another formidable West Coast Conference foe in BYU, here’s what’s in store tonight:

NCAAW Tournament — Round 2, Day 2

3 key matchups

No. 3 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 6 UCLA Bruins

When: Monday, March 25, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: XFINITY Center, College Park, MD

How to watch: ESPN

Notes: This game is an anniversary showdown: 41 years to the day since the Bruins beat the Terrapins for the AIAW championship. Just like it was in 1978, today’s matchup is a big-time battle between two powers. Both teams had fairly straightforward first-round wins, as Maryland took down Radford and UCLA beat Tennessee. Now, they’ll each need to find a way to stay consistent against a drastically more difficult opponent in each other — but not unlike anything either faced in conference play this season.

No. 3 Syracuse Orange vs. No. 6 South Dakota State Jackrabbits

When: Monday, March 25, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY

How to watch: ESPN

Notes: The Jackrabbits take a 17-game winning streak into this first-ever meeting between Syracuse and South Dakota State. But they’ll have to contend with the likes of Tiana Mangakahia, who was two rebounds shy of a triple-double in the Orange’s win over Fordham. But South Dakota State’s Macy Miller had a solid game of her own against Quinnipiac, finishing with 28 points and 11 rebounds. The Jackrabbits can win their first game against a power-conference opponent this season after dropping close decisions to Baylor and Oregon in non-conference play. But against this Syracuse team, they’ll need to tap into something special to pull off the upset.

No. 2 Stanford Cardinal vs. No. 7 BYU Cougars

When: Monday, March 25, at 11 p.m. ET

Where: Maples Pavilion, Stanford, CA

How to watch: ESPN2

Notes: Can BYU become the second WCC school to take down Stanford this season? With three wins against Gonzaga, the WCC team to get it done on Dec. 2, the Cougars, have to have some extra confidence heading into this game. Both teams had fairly good shooting days in their first games, as Stanford shot 49.2 percent in its rout of UC Davis and BYU made 47.5 percent of its shots in its win over Auburn. A true second-half team when the pressure is on, the Cougars can pull off the upset if they can keep the Cardinal from pulling away early. But Stanford is notoriously difficult to defeat on their home court, making completing this feat much easier said than done.

The day’s other games

No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 9 Michigan State, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

No. 3 NC State vs. No. 6 Kentucky, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 8 California, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 11 Missouri State, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

No. 4 Oregon State vs. No. 5 Gonzaga, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

NCAAW Tournament game information

Second round

When: Sunday, March 24; Monday, March 25

Where: Campus sites (teams seeded 1-4 host)

How to watch: ESPN, ESPN2, WatchESPN

Sweet Sixteen

When: Friday, March 29; Saturday, March 30 (click for times)

Where: Albany, NY; Chicago, IL; Greensboro, NC; Portland, OR

How to watch: ESPN, ESPN2, WatchESPN

Elite Eight

When: Sunday, March 31; Monday, April 1 (click for times)

Where: Albany, NY; Chicago, IL; Greensboro, NC; Portland, OR

How to watch: ESPN, ESPN2, WatchESPN

Final Four

When: Friday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL

How to watch: ESPN2, WatchESPN

National Championship

When: Sunday, April 7, at 6 p.m. ET

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL

How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN

More ways to watch the games

Want to watch in person? Tickets for the first two rounds can be purchased on the websites of the 16 hosting teams, listed below as the first through fourth seeds. Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four tickets can be found on the websites of the hosting arenas, or here.