WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert: It’s more than just a weight room
The WNBA commissioner speaks out on the NCAA weight room and what it represents.
Day one of March Madness started out without a single upset. But that didn’t last long.
By day two, we had No. 13 Wright State knocking off No. 4 Arkansas. We had No. 11 BYU squeaking by No. 6 Rutgers. We even had No. 15 Troy taking No. 2 Texas A&M to the final seconds.
By the round of Round 32, we had even more upsets, with a trio of No. 6 seeds — Oregon, Michigan, and Texas — all defeating No. 3 seeds.
That leaves us at the Sweet 16 with everything from struggling No. 2 seeds to blossoming No. 6 seeds. To preview the weekend’s games, we’ve re-ranked the remaining teams, 1-16.
1. UConn (No. 1 seed)
Everyone talks about Paige Bueckers and UConn’s dazzling offense — an offense that hums to the tune of an NCAA-leading 20.9 assists per game. But you can’t overstate how strong the Huskies’ defense has been. Only four teams have shot 40% or better from the field all season against them — and only one team has managed to escape with less than 10 turnovers. That was Arkansas, the only team to beat UConn this year.
2. Baylor (No. 2 seed)
Baylor has won 19 games in a row and only two of those games were within 10 points. In the first two rounds, the Lady Bears have outscored opponents by a total of 91 points — the best of any team in the tournament.
3. Stanford (No. 1 seed)
The key to beating Stanford is shutting down their lethal 3-point attack. In both of their losses, they’ve shot just 21.8%. To start the tournament, that hasn’t been the case, as the Cardinal have shot 48.2% from beyond the arc. If that continues, few teams will be able to keep up.
4. South Carolina (No. 1 seed)
Aliyah Boston had just seven rebounds in South Carolina’s round of Round 32 victory over Oregon State. It was her second lowest rebounding outing of the year and her first single digit rebounding outing in 11 games. Still, the Gamecocks managed to rout the Beavers by 17.
5. Maryland (No. 2 seed)
Maryland just keeps doing what Maryland does — score a lot of points. Their latest 100-point performance came against Alabama in the Round of 32, and they did so with their two leading scorers, Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller, combining for just 23 points.
6. NC State (No. 1 seed)
NC State’s road to the Final Four got a little bumpier with an injury to starter Kayla Jones. In her place, though, sophomore Jada Boyd has stepped up, averaging 30 minutes and 18 points in their first two tournament games.
7. Louisville (No. 2 seed)
There are still positives to take away from Louisville’s early NCAA tournament struggles. Despite Dana Evans scoring only 14 points, Louisville came back from 18 down to beat Northwestern, outscoring the Wildcats 55-28 after the first quarter.
8. Texas A&M (No. 2 seed)
Did you watch the Troy or Iowa State games? If not, you missed out. Not just on good basketball games, but the emergence of Jordan Nixon. The sophomore guard has scored double digit points in eight straight games, after scoring in double figures in just six of the 19 games prior. Nixon dropped a career-high 35 points against Iowa State, topping it off with a coast-to-coast game winner.
9. Arizona (No. 3 seed)
How far can Aari McDonald carry Arizona? Despite averaging 19.3 points per game, she has struggled against top-ranked teams. In the Wildcats’ seven regular season games against tournament teams, she shot just 32.8% from the field.
10. Iowa (No. 5 seed)
Caitlin Clark gets most of the headlines (and for good reason), but the most important player recently hasn’t been Clark. Over their last six games, center Monika Czinano has averaged 24 points. The Hawkeyes have gone 5-1 in that stretch.
11. Indiana (No. 4 seed)
Indiana’s versatile offensive attack was on full display against Belmont, with four players scoring in double digits. The big question is: Will their lack of three-point shooting hold them back? The Hoosiers knock down just 29.2% of their threes, one of the worst percentages in the country.
12. Oregon (No. 6 seed)
Heading into the NCAA tournament, Oregon looked like a team on upset alert, having lost five of their last six games. But boy have they bounced back. In their two NCAA tournament games, the Ducks have held South Dakota and Georgia to a combined 16.6% from three.
13. Missouri State (No. 5 seed)
Missouri State pride themselves on winning the rebounding battle. Opposing teams average just 6.8 offensive rebounds per game — best in the country. But how good are the Lady Bears? After playing only one ranked opponent all year, we’re still waiting to find out.
14. Michigan (No. 6 seed)
Before Leigha Brown dropped 28 points in 27 minutes against Florida Gulf Coast, she hadn’t touched 20 points in six games. Brown’s success will be key for the Wolverines moving forward. In games where she scores 20 or more points, Michigan is 8-0.
15. Texas (No. 6 seed)
Everyone knows about the projected number one WNBA pick, Charli Collier. But Collier, who scored just five points on Wednesday, wasn’t the main reason Texas upset No. 3 UCLA. Celeste Taylor, Kyra Lambert, and Joanne Allen-Taylor combined for 57 of the team’s 71 points.
16. Georgia Tech (No. 5 seed)
Georgia Tech’s first win over a ranked team this season came when they needed it most. The Yellow Jackets clamped up No. 4 seed West Virginia, holding unanimous first team All-Big 12 guard Kysre Gondrezick to three points — her lowest total of the year.
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