NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: Preview and First Round TV Schedule

If your men’s NCAA Tournament bracket has suffered irreparable damage at the hands of Norfolk State, Ohio, and Lehigh, you have another chance.

The NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament starts this weekend. Here’s a look at the tournament’s favorites, storylines and the schedule for the First Round games. (Note: In the women’s tourney, the First Round is really the First Round.)

Download the bracket here.

womens basketball tournament preview schedule

Women’s Basketball Tournament: The Favorites

The Baylor Bears, led by 6-8 player-of-the-year candidate Brittney Griner, enter the tournament with a perfect 34-0 with wins over Notre Dame, Connecticut, and Tennessee and a three-game sweep of defending champion Texas A&M. The Bears advanced to the Final Four in each of the past two seasons but have yet to come away with a trophy.

The Big East sends a formidable duo to the women’s dance. Notre Dame, last year’s runner up, and seven-time national champion Connecticut are the second and third overall seeds. All-American Skylar Diggins (Lil Wayne’s favorite college basketball player) and the Irish have only three losses, two at the hands of Connecticut and Baylor; they were two games better during the regular season than any other team in the loaded Big East; and they boast non-conference wins over Tennessee, Duke, and Kentucky. The Irish swept Connecticut in the regular season before losing to the Huskies in the Big East Tournament.

Skylar Diggins hopes to lead Notre Dame back to the national championship game.

While this year’s Connecticut team isn’t quite as talented as the teams from the Maya Moore/Tina Charles era, the Huskies came within four points of Baylor in Waco and defeated Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament championship game.

Stanford, the number-four overall seed, ended the season ranked second, with an impressive 31-1 record. While the Cardinal picked up nice early season wins over Gonzaga and Tennessee, they’ve spent the last few months beating up on a lackluster Pac-12 conference.

Women’s Basketball Tournament: Storylines

Last summer Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt announced that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. Despite her health issues, Summit—an eight-time national champion and the winningest coach in college basketball history—decided to coach this season with the help of long-time assistants Mickie DeMoss, Holly Warlick and Dean Lockwood. Summitt’s future in coaching beyond this season is uncertain, but her courage is not. Summitt’s second-seeded Lady Vols begin tournament play today versus Summitt’s alma mater, Tennessee-Martin.

The Green Bay Phoenix celebrate on Selection Monday.

This year’s tournament also features two of the most impressive mid-majors in recent memory. Green Bay, out of the Horizon League, brings a 30-1 record into this year’s dance. 30 wins is impressive regardless of the competition, but the seventh-seeded Phoenix have only one quality win, an overtime, neutral-court win over Georgia Tech back in November.

The Selection Committee had much respect for Delaware, who went undefeated in the Colonial, awarding the Fighting Blue Hens a 3 seed. Delaware has non-conference wins over Penn State, St. Bonaventure, Princeton, Wake Forest, and Villanova. The Hens’ only loss was at number-five Maryland.

Women’s Basketball Tournament: TV Schedule For Saturday’s Games

Fresno Region

  • #5 South Carolina vs. #12 Eastern Michigan—10:05 a.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #8 West Virginia vs. #9 Texas—10:10 a.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #1 Stanford vs. #16 Hampton—12:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #4 Purdue vs. #13 South Dakota State—12:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3

 

Raleigh Region

  • #2 Maryland vs. #15 Navy—10:15 a.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #7 Louisville vs. #10 Michigan State—12:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #6 Arkansas vs. #11 Dayton—3:05 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #3 Texas A&M vs. #14 Albany—5:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3

Kingston Region

  • #8 Kansas State vs. #9 Princeton—10:20 a.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #1 Connecticut vs. #16 Prairie View A&M—12:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #6 Rutgers vs. #11 Gonzaga—3:15 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #2 Kentucky vs. #15 McNeese State—3:20 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #7 Green Bay vs. #10 Iowa State—5:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #3 Miami vs. #14 Idaho State—5:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3

Des Moines Region

  • #2 Tennessee vs. #15 Tennessee-Martin—3:10 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #7 BYU vs. #10 DePaul—5:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3

 

Sunday’s Games

Fresno Region

  • #3 St. John’s vs. #14 Creighton—4:05 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #7 Vanderbilt vs. #10 Middle Tennessee State—4:10 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #6 Oklahoma vs. #11 Michigan—6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #2 Duke vs. #15 Samford—6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3

Raleigh Region

  • #4 Georgia vs. #13 Marist—11:05 a.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #8 California vs. #9 Iowa—11:10 a.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #1 Notre Dame vs. #16 Liberty—1:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #5 St. Bonaventure vs. #12 Florida-Gulf Coast—1:30 CT, ESPN2/ESPN3

Kingston Region

  • #4 Penn State vs. #13 UTEP—4:15 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #5 LSU vs. #12 San Diego State—6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3

Des Moines Region

  • #8 Ohio State vs. #9 Florida—11:15 a.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #5 Georgetown vs. #12 Fresno State—11:20 a.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #1 Baylor vs. #16 UCSB—1:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #4 Georgia Tech vs. #13 Sacred Heart—1:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #3 Delaware vs. #14 Arkansas-Little Rock—4:20 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3
  • #6 Nebraska vs. #11 Kansas—6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ESPN3

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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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