Five blazing questions for a women's NCAA contest bracket

8:28 PM ET

You wish answers about a NCAA tournament? Wait a few days and they’ll come in a form of 63 lessons. But a questions we can do right now.

What awaits Kelsey Mitchell?

There isn’t a some-more constrained particular story in a contest this year than Ohio State comparison Kelsey Mitchell, whose office of a NCAA career scoring record is intertwined with a third-seeded Buckeyes perplexing to make it to a Final Four in a city they call home.

Mitchell starts a NCAA contest with 3,363 career points, 30 behind former NCAA record hilt Jackie Stiles and 164 points behind stream record hilt Kelsey Plum (who entered a NCAA contest a year ago with 3,431 points). Barring disaster in a initial turn conflicting No. 14 seed George Washington — a Colonials arrange in a tip 50 nationally in scoring invulnerability — Mitchell should be means to pass Stiles in front of a Ohio State loyal in a initial dual rounds.

But that is about all Louisville has going for it in a draw.

A No. 1 seed hasn’t mislaid in a second turn or progressing (sorry, Stanford) given 2009, so a initial weekend should be a foregone conclusion. That said, Louisville unsuccessful to urge a possess justice in a NCAA contest before, in a informal final conflicting Maryland in 2014 and a second-round diversion conflicting DePaul in 2016. It also mislaid a contest diversion conflicting Dayton in 2015, and while a players and even a manager are conflicting this time, a Flyers are still bigger and some-more jaunty than many mid-majors. It’s value observant if those teams should accommodate in a second round.

It’s a weekend during Rupp Arena that gets tricky. Potential Sweet 16 competition Stanford would be personification in Lexington for a third year in a row. A year ago, a Cardinal dissapoint top-seeded Notre Dame in a informal final. The year before that? They dissapoint top-seeded Notre Dame in a Sweet 16. You get a feeling a Cardinal wouldn’t be impressed by a surroundings, even with a kind of narrow-minded throng that was blank a past dual years.

Reach a informal final and a marker says that what awaits will be a regular-season and Big 12 contest champion ticked off that it isn’t a No. 1 seed. Baylor won’t have a harmed Kristy Wallace, though beginner Alexis Morris stepped adult with prolific mins in a Big 12 tournament. And if Baylor’s backcourt handles Louisville’s pressure, it has a distance in All-American Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox that no one else can chuck during Louisville.

Might Texas have a rest of a republic right where it wants it?

What group on a tip dual seed lines will be talked about reduction this week than Texas?

A’ja Wilson’s farewell debate and a intensity of a informal final assembly with UConn creates South Carolina a prohibited commodity entrance off a SEC contest title.

Baylor has a box as a blank No. 1 seed and a intensity of another diversion with Louisville (and someone will always be articulate about Baylor, even if Kim Mulkey has to do it herself).

Even Oregon has a allure of being a newcomer, a rising energy in a Pac-12 with a adorned star, Sabrina Ionescu, and all that comes with being Nike’s favorite school.

But Texas? The Longhorns are unequivocally good or they wouldn’t be a No. 2 seed. Just not good adequate to kick Baylor (three times), UConn or Tennessee in their highest-profile games to date. Six seasons into Karen Aston’s time as manager in Austin, it feels like we know Texas, good and bad. Mostly good.

Only that starts to sound a bit like another group a year ago, one that couldn’t find a approach to kick a discussion rival, in a box South Carolina, and had a load of past NCAA contest beating around a neck. Then a petite ensure took control and led Mississippi State on one of a many noted runs in contest history. Morgan William, accommodate Texas’ Brooke McCarty.

Backcourt status notwithstanding, Texas looks a lot like Mississippi State of a year ago, both narratively and statistically. The Longhorns don’t have a vivid weakness, offensively or defensively. They have an X cause in Joyner Holmes, whose early cessation derailed any intensity breakthrough though who has still shown flashes of odd talent. They have a oppulance of drifting underneath a radar, conjunction favorite nor underdog. And in a 5-foot-4 McCarty, they have a actor whose unequivocally success during her tiny distance creates it easy to trust she can do anything.

Where will a play be in a initial dual rounds?

Athens: No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 13 Mercer; No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 Belmont
Mercer was within 6 points of Georgia inside a final notation of a third entertain when a teams met progressing in a season, and that isn’t even a many constrained first-round diversion in Athens. A year after it pushed Kentucky to a handle in Lexington in a initial round, Belmont returned roughly total this season, reduction a coaching change, and has a sharpened to pull Duke. Even if a marker holds, Georgia high propagandize product Lexie Brown perplexing to extend her college career conflicting a resurgent Bulldogs would be constrained basketball.

Knoxville: No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Liberty; No. 6 Oregon State vs. No. 11 Western Kentucky
The captivate is a intensity strife of orange, though Oregon State conflicting Western Kentucky is a good opening act. Oregon State’s miserly invulnerability will have a hands full with Tashia Brown, sixth in a republic in scoring. A intensity Tennessee-Oregon State matchup would be among a best in a second round, all a some-more with Tennessee seniors and Oregon products Jaime Nared and Mercedes Russell perplexing to lengthen their careers. Other than one supernatural blowout during UCLA, Oregon State is consistently in each game. The Lady Vols are some-more mercurial.

Los Angeles: No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 14 American; No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Creighton
The first-rounder between Iowa and Creighton could be fun, a Bluejays still a module with a intensity to fire any competition out of a building. But a interest is a intensity second-round star energy of UCLA ensure Jordin Canada going conflicting Iowa post Megan Gustafson, a nation’s heading scorer. No other second-round diversion could underline dual espnW All-Americans on conflicting sides (although UCLA’s Monique Billings would be Gustafson’s initial concern).

Stanford: No. 4 Stanford vs. No. 13 Gonzaga; No. 5 Missouri vs. No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast
Stanford was mentioned as a intensity thorn in Louisville’s side, though that involves a Cardinal removing by a installed joint in a initial dual rounds. A win during Stanford could be another step toward stardom for Missouri’s Sophie Cunningham, though both favorites face formidable openers conflicting mid-majors with athleticism and knowledge personification large games. Keep an eye on Gonzaga’s Jill Barta, who competence be a many gifted actor in a building.

Who are must-see players in a early rounds?

The seeding says their teams won’t be around over a initial dual rounds. Their skills contend it’s value your time to watch them try and infer otherwise.

Katelynn Flaherty, No. 7 Michigan: She’s one 3-pointer divided from relating Breanna Stewart in career points and could pass Seimone Augustus, Courtney Paris, Chiney Ogwumike and Becky Hammon with a integrate of large games. It’s good association to keep as your college career winds toward a conclusion. After 3 uninterrupted prolonged runs in a WNIT, including a pretension a deteriorate ago, it’s good to see one of a game’s good pristine scorers in this tournament.

Jessica Lindstrom, No. 7 Green Bay: Is she a ensure with post skills or a post with ensure skills? You competence see her listed as either, though it’s her ability to play inside and outward that sets her apart. She has as good a feel for resilient and post moves as any mid-major player, though she also led a group in 3-point shooting. She’s Green Bay by and through.

JaVonna Layfield, No. 9 Dayton: Did we know a tournament’s second-leading rebounder is a 5-11 senior? If so, how is a continue in Dayton? Layfield was second in assists for a A-10 regular-season champs and has operation out to a 3-point line. But it’s a resilient — 21 games in double digits — that sets her apart.

Kahlia Lawrence, No. 13 Mercer: Not usually does she get to play Mercer’s initial contest game, she gets to play it tighten to home. Maybe not as tighten as horde and first-round competition Georgia, though let’s stay optimistic. Already among a nation’s heading scorers, Lawrence scored 23, 23 and 29 points, respectively, in Mercer’s 3 discussion contest wins.

Channon Fluker, No. 16 Cal State Northridge: Thanks to Harvard 20 years ago, each No. 16 unequivocally does have wish in a women’s tournament. Northridge also has Fluker, that helps some-more than hope. A 6-4 loyal post, she is one of usually dual players ranked in a tip 20 in both resilient and blocks. The other is A’ja Wilson.

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