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NCAA Tournament: Reseeding the Sweet 16

@BaylorWBB

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.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Crypto.com Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a Change.org petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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