About 100 days from the selection show for women’s college basketball, we asked NCAA.com basketball expert Michelle Smith to fill out a March Madness bracket based on everything she has seen so far this season.
Smith filled out a bracket in the preseason too, about 50 days before opening night.
We’ll break down her bracket in a second, but let’s take a look at it first. (Click here to open the bracket in a new window.)
And here’s that bracket in table form…
|Greenville, S.C.||Dallas, TX||Portland, OR||Fort Wayne, IN|
|2||Oregon State||South Carolina||Louisville||Texas A&M|
|15||UNC Asheville||Abilene Christian||UC Irvine||Howard|
|3||Mississippi Stat||UCLA||Maryland||Florida State|
|14||SE Missouri||Marist||UT Arlington||Lehigh|
|4||Miami||Michigan State||Kentucky||N.C. State|
|11||Iowa State||Iowa||Boise State||Marquette|
|7||Arizona||WVU||Missouri State||Notre Dame|
|10||Drake||Rice||Georgia Tech||Kansas State|
|8||Rutgers||Arizona State||Minnesota||South Dakota|
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UConn, Baylor, Oregon, Stanford take No. 1 seeds
Smith’s predictions for the top seeds have mostly remained the same since her preseason projection, but she has replaced Maryland with UConn in the top four. Smith slid the Terps back to a No. 3 seed in the Portland region after they lost to South Carolina and had a close call with James Madison.
UConn is off to a 6-0 start, though the Huskies haven’t faced a real formidable opponent yet. However, DePaul, Notre Dame and Oklahoma are on their schedule for December. Megan Walker has led the Huskies so far with per-game averages of 20.3 points and 8.8 rebounds.
Baylor, the defending champs, are 7-1 this season. The Lady Bears have posted wins over two ranked teams in USF and Indiana, but fell to South Carolina by 15 points at the Paradise Jam. Baylor still has the fifth best offense and the sixth best defense in the nation, in terms of points scored and allowed per-game.
Oregon recently lost its top spot in the AP Top 25 rankings after losing to Louisville at the Paradise Jam. Still, the Ducks are 6-1, beat Team USA in an exhibition, and still have the third best offense in the nation, scoring 88.6 points per-game. Smith believes they’ll bounce back from that loss to Louisville and take a No. 1 seed, and — in this projection — potentially face the Cardinals again in the Elite Eight.
Stanford has the 10th best scoring offense in the country and is the new AP Top 25 No. 1 this week. The Cardinal are 8-0 with wins over Gonzaga, Syracuse and Mississippi State, all teams Smith predicts will make the tournament. Stanford has been led by Lexie Hull’s 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per-game.
Automatic Qualifiers, according to Smith
- America East – Maine
- American Athletic Conference – UConn
- Atlantic 10 – Dayton
- ACC – Louisville
- ASUN – FGCU
- Big 12 – Baylor
- Big East – DePaul
- Big Sky – Idaho
- Big South – UNC Asheville
- Big Ten – Maryland
- Big West – UC Irvine
- Colonial Athletic Association – James Madison
- Conference USA – Rice
- Horizon – Green Bay
- Ivy – Princeton
- MAAC – Marist
- Mid-American – Ohio
- MEAC – Howard
- Missouri Valley – Drake
- Mountain West – Boise State
- Northeast – Wagner
- Ohio Valley – SE Missouri
- Pac 12 – Oregon
- Patriot – Lehigh
- SEC – South Carolina
- SoCon – Furman
- Southland – Abilene Christian
- SWAC – Southern
- Summit League – South Dakota
- Sun Belt – UT Arlington
- West Coast – Gonzaga
- Western Athletic Conference – Cal Baptist