NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Elite 8 Preview and TV Schedule

This weekend we learned that the men’s teams from Louisville, Ohio State, Kentucky, and Kansas are headed to New Orleans for the Final Four.

During the next two evenings we’ll find out which four women’s teams will be headed to the women’s Final Four in Denver.

All of the mid-majors and lower seeds who made the first two rounds of the Women’s Tournament so much fun were dismissed this weekend. And for the first time since 2008 all four 1 seeds and all four 2 seeds (and no one else) are playing in the Elite Eight.

Here’s a preview of the games that will decide which four teams play next Sunday in Denver.

View the updated bracket here.

womens basketball tournament preview schedule

Monday March 26

#1 Baylor (37-0) vs. #2 Tennessee (27-8), Des Moines Region Final

6:00 p.m. CST, ESPN/ESPN3

Baylor has yet to be challenged in this year’s tournament. Georgia Tech, the Bears’ Sweet Sixteen opponent, came closer than anyone else, losing by only 15 points. But that 83-68 score is deceiving; Tech scored a lot of points in garbage time. When Brittney Griner threw down her second dunk in this year’s tournament, the Bears led 77-46 with 6:29 on the clock.

Tennessee, on the other hand, struggled against 11 seed Kansas. The Lady Vols trailed by 5 at the half before going on to win by 11.

On paper, this match-up favors Baylor, who beat Tennessee by 9 in Knoxville early in the season. But the Vols are led by a group of seniors who have never been to the Final Four and don’t want to be the first Tennessee class in ages not to make it there.

#1 Stanford (34-1) vs. #2 Duke (27-5), Fresno Region Final

8:00 p.m. CST, ESPN/ESPN3

I need to stop doubting Stanford.

In my previews for each of the previous two rounds, I named Stanford the top seed most likely to lose. The Cardinal, who have been perfect since a November 21 loss at Connecticut, won both games easily, beating West Virginia 72-55 and South Carolina 76-60 behind 39 points and 10 rebounds from senior forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike.

While I know better than to pick against Tara Vanderveer’s Cardinal team, Duke has been equally impressive. The Blue Devils beat Vanderbilt in Nashville 96-80 in the Second Round before routing a very good St. John’s team 74-47 in the Sweet Sixteen.

Notre Dame's Kayla McBride, Devereaux Peters, and Skylar Diggins celebrate a win over St. Bonaventure and a return to the Elite Eight. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Tuesday March 27

#1 Connecticut (32-4) vs. #2 Kentucky (28-6), Kingston (Rhode Island) Region Final

6:00 p.m. CST, ESPN/ESPN3

Neither Connecticut nor Kentucky had much trouble in the Sweet Sixteen. (I thought that Gonzaga would give Kentucky trouble. I was wrong.)

The Huskies, who are looking to advance to their fourth consecutive Final Four, have the advantage of playing close to home. Kentucky, meanwhile, is hoping to go to its first Final Four in school history. The Wildcats will need another fine performance from senior Keyla Snowden—who scored four points in the final 18 seconds in Kentucky’s Second Round win over Green Bay and hit five three pointers in a Sweet Sixteen victory over Gonzaga—if they want to get by a talented and balanced Connecticut team.

#1 Notre Dame (33-3) vs. #2 Maryland (31-4), Raleigh Region Final

8:00 p.m. CST, ESPN/ESPN3

Most of the women’s Sweet Sixteen games weren’t terribly exciting. In five of the eight games, the top seeds got out to early leads and never looked back. In two others, the top seeds took over in the second half, keeping viewers from enjoying any late-game drama.

The exception was Maryland’s 81-74 win over defending champion Texas A&M. The Terrapins trailed by 18 in the first half and 11 late in the second. Maryland didn’t take the lead until only 3:29 remained on the clock. Laurin Mincy led the Terrapins with 21 points and 12 rebounds, including a pair of clutch free-throws to put the game away.

Top-seeded Notre Dame gave St. Bonaventure its first-ever NCAA Tournament loss, holding the Bonnies to only 13 first-half points. Brittany Mallory, Skylar Diggins, and the rest of Muffet McGraw’s Irish are hoping to return to the Final Four. Last year’s trip ended with a loss to Texas A&M in the title game.

About Josh Tinley

Josh Tinley writes the Away From The Action column at Midwest Sports Fans, covering all aspects of sport aside from what actually happens on the field, court, or track. Josh grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from the University of Evansville and Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is the author of Kneeling in the End Zone: Spiritual Lessons From the World of Sports and the managing editor of LinC, a weekly curriculum for teens that explores the intersection of faith and culture. Josh lives outside Nashville with his wife, Ashlee, and children, Meyer (7), Resha Kate (5), and Malachi (3). He will not allow himself to die before the Evansville Purple Aces make another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Follow him on Twitter @joshtinley or send him an e-mail.

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