She Plays’ Projected Top 8 Seeds for the NCAA Tournament

A series of conference shake-ups place seeding in jeopardy. 

By Laura Fay

It’s what we’ve been waiting for all season long: Selection Sunday is right around the corner. But with a series of upsets across conference tournaments these past two weeks, the top seeds in the NCAA tournament are more up in the air than they’ve been all year. 

In the women’s tournament, seeding is vital. The top 16 seeds host their first and second-round matchups, and any team will be hoping their seeding places them as far away from reigning champs South Carolina as possible. 

With potentially crucial Big 12 conference games still ongoing, let’s look at where each team stands going into the tournament and our projections for Selection Sunday. 

#1 South Carolina

Well, at least this one is easy. With a perfect record, South Carolina is easily the best team in the country going into March Madness. That the Gamecocks were the only #1 seed to cruise through to their conference championship only cemented the obvious. This is the team to beat. 

Reigning National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston has had another great season, and though her numbers have taken a slight dip, that’s only because her teammates have stepped up. Zia Cooke and Kamilla Cardoso have taken their games to new heights this year, with Cardoso’s impressive off-the-bench effort coming in especially clutch for the Gamecocks. 

With a healthy roster, a deep bench, and a slew of future WNBA draft picks at their disposal, it will take a hefty effort to beat South Carolina this March. 

#2 Indiana

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Indiana. After a brilliant game versus Iowa ended on Caitlin Clark’s buzzer-beating three, Indiana needed a reset. It looked like they’d gotten it when they led Ohio State by 24 points in the second quarter of their Big 10 matchup. Then Ohio State mounted the biggest comeback in Big 10 history, and the Hoosiers lost their chance at a first-ever conference title. 

Still, Indiana’s resume is enough to earn them the #2 overall seed this March. The Hoosiers won their past matchups against Iowa, Ohio State, and additional conference rival Maryland. Star center MacKenzie Holmes is a legitimate Naismith Player of the Year contender, and all the starting five are proven scorers. For Indiana, the key will be playing themselves into form. Indiana has played Final Four basketball for much of this season—the question is whether they can find it again when it counts. 

#3 Iowa

The first mover this March is Iowa. A projected #2 seed last month, Iowa has since steamrolled past Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio State to win a second-straight Big 10 title and hopefully earn a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. 

Caitlin Clark draws most of the media’s attention, and deservedly so—she leads the team in all statistical categories. But in the last month, her supporting cast has also stepped up. That was most obvious against Maryland, a team that had demolished Iowa just two weeks prior. This time, all Iowa’s starting five were in double-digits, knocking down a season-high 15 three-pointers. 

All in all, Iowa is peaking at the right time. Anyone would be scared to find them on their side of the bracket this March. 

#4 UConn

After an impressive performance against South Carolina a month ago, the setbacks started getting to UConn. With a rotating door of injuries and uncharacteristic losses to Marquette and St. Johns, this year could have been a write-off for the Huskies. 

When they got Azzi Fudd back, that all changed. While still rusty, Fudd helps space the floor and prevents opponents from double-teaming Aliyah Edwards in the paint. It’s no coincidence Edwards’s numbers rebounded as soon as Fudd returned to action. Revitalized, UConn stormed to the Big East title and now has a real shot at defending their streak of consecutive Final Four appearances. 

While UConn’s last month isn’t as impressive as other contenders on this list, their cumulative season is. The Huskies are 11–3 against NET 25 opponents, including wins over Iowa, Tennessee, and Duke. While they might not be in their best form, nobody wants to bet against UConn in March. 

#5 Stanford

Stanford is another team whose seeding has taken a hit in the past two weeks. They lost to Utah in the final game of the regular season and were bounced from the Pac-12 just a week later against UCLA. While the Pac-12 is one of the most competitive conferences in the country, that’s still not a great return for the team who reigned over it for so long. 

For Stanford to make a run this March, they’ll need contributions outside their star duo of Haley Jones and Cameron Brink. The most likely candidate is Hannah Jump. A dagger from deep, Jump needs to become a consistent third-option scorer this March. If she’s held scoreless, like she was against UCLA last week, the Cardinal don’t look like a team with a legitimate shot at the national title.

#6 Virginia Tech

With their impressive run to the ACC title earlier this month, Virginia Tech are finally capitalizing on their talented roster. They’re undefeated in their last ten games, steamrolling the conference competition to walk away worthy champions. 

Virginia Tech players celebrate after defeating Louisville in an NCAA college basketball game for the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, March 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Still, it’s unclear if that’ll be enough for the Hokies to snatch a No. 1 seed this March. While the ACC is one of the most competitive conferences in the nation, its overall difficulty isn’t on par with the Big 10 or Pac-12. Tech’s wins over Miami, Duke, and Louisville are impressive, but none are on par with the competition they would face deep in March. That doesn’t mean the Hokies couldn’t put together a strong run next week, but other teams deserve the No. 1 ranking more. 

#7 Maryland

Maryland has had an up-and-down ranking in the polls this past month. A dismantling of Iowa put them in prime No. 1 seed position just two weeks ago, but their loss to the same side in the Big 10 tournament just as quickly took them out of it. 

When the Terps are on, they’re great. Maryland was the only team to limit Caitlin Clark (granted, a limited Clark still scores 18 points) and can count on contributions from a deep bench. Still, when they faced Iowa two weeks later, they could never find an edge. Maryland made several runs to cut it to a one-possession game but immediately turned around and gave up an open three in transition. But while Maryland doesn’t deserve a No. 1 ranking this March, they could still wreak some havoc. 

#8 Utah

Utah has been the biggest wild card of the season. After crashing out in round 2 of last year’s March Madness, the Utes have rebounded to shake up the Pac-12 this year. By upsetting Stanford to end the season, Utah earned a share of the regular-season title for the first time in program history. 

While the Utes’ non-conference schedule isn’t difficult enough to warrant higher seeding, their loss to WA State in the Pac-12 tournament should put a fire in their bellies this March. With Alissa Pili ascending to new heights this season, Utah could be a dangerous opponent this tournament. 

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