Day 1 of the ladies’s NCAA event: A whole lot of chalk, few upsets and an ideal SEC begin

Chalk dominated the vast majority of the opening day of the 2023 girls’s NCAA event, with the SEC shining brightest due to a 5-0 file on Friday.

No. 1 general seed South Carolina dealt with Norfolk State, pulling inside 5 wins of an undefeated season and back-to-back nationwide titles, whereas 3-seed LSU took care of enterprise versus Hawaii.

What was much less apparent heading into March was how the middle-of-the-back SEC groups would fare. But No. 8 seed Ole Miss, Tenth-seeded Georgia and 11-seed Mississippi State — which grew to become the primary First Four staff to make it to the second spherical — all superior.

It has been a harder week for the ACC, as three star gamers — Florida State’s Ta’Niya Latson, NC State’s Diamond Johnson and Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles — have been dominated out both for your complete event or, in Johnson’s case, the weekend. Notre Dame did not have a lot bother routing Southern Utah 82-56, however Tenth-seeded Princeton beat 7-seed NC State on Grace Stone’s go-ahead 3-pointer with lower than 5 seconds remaining.

Even the “upsets” weren’t surprises. No. 10 seed Georgia taking down Florida State was conceivable, if not predictable, given Latson’s harm. Same with NC State’s loss sans Johnson. No. 9 seed South Dakota State bested No. 8 USC 62-57 in extra time, nevertheless it was an 8-9 matchup. Most beautiful was 6-seed Creighton’s loss to the Bulldogs after their Elite Eight run final yr. Could Mississippi State, which performs robust protection and may produce each inside-out, assume the function by upsetting the Irish on Sunday?

ESPN’s Alexa Philippou, Charlie Creme and M.A. Voepel break down the highlights from the primary spherical and have a look at what to anticipate throughout the remainder of the early-round video games.

Give us your finest overreaction primarily based on sooner or later of video games.



Brinae Alexander delivers from deep for Maryland

Brinae Alexander delivers from deep for Maryland

Creme: No. 2 seed Maryland will probably be an actual menace to South Carolina in Greenville 1 if Brinae Alexander can shoot like she did towards Holy Cross. The Terrapins made 9 3-pointers and scored 93 factors Friday. Alexander shot 4-for-7 on 3s. Her improved manufacturing has been a big a part of Maryland’s high-level play within the later a part of the season. In the Terps’ final six video games, the Vanderbilt switch made 18 of 36 makes an attempt from past the arc, and she or he’s capturing 44.3% there for the season. She led Maryland with 18 factors off the bench towards the Crusaders in an environment friendly 25 minutes.

The Gamecocks do not have a lot vulnerability, however a staff with a number of deep threats can, a minimum of partially, neutralize their protection — even one nearly as good as South Carolina’s. Alexander, Abby Meyers, Lavender Briggs and Shyanne Sellers would possibly simply give Maryland the shooters to tug an Elite Eight shock.

Philippou: LSU, a staff that has already caught loads of flack for its straightforward nonconference schedule, is in bother if everybody round Angel Reese comes out as flat as they did versus Hawaii and if the Tigers do not rebound higher (40-33). Aside from a lopsided first quarter, and as dominant as Reese was (34 factors, 15 rebounds), the sport was pretty. LSU shot 1-for-14 from the arc, and Alexis Morris went 3-for-10 from the sector. The path will get rather more tough for the Tigers from right here on out with Michigan up subsequent after the Wolverines managed an enormous win over UNLV Runnin Rebels in what was thought of a potential upset sport — after which probably a staff like high-octane Utah within the Sweet 16.

Voepel: Maybe the SEC can have two groups within the Final Four. We’ve all been selecting South Carolina to go to Dallas mainly because the nationwide championship sport ended final yr. Much was manufactured from the SEC not being nearly as good as traditional this season, apart from the Gamecocks. But the SEC went 5-0 on Friday, together with the upsets by Georgia and Mississippi State — even when neither of these outcomes was actually a shock. Saturday, No. 4 Tennessee and No. 10 Alabama will attempt to preserve the SEC good within the first spherical.

What or who stunned you probably the most in Friday’s video games?

Creme: Perhaps the most important shock of the day was that there weren’t any true surprises. It was on the opening day of the primary spherical precisely 364 days in the past that No. 10 seed Creighton knocked off No. 7 Colorado, 12-seed Florida Gulf Coast beat No. 5 Virginia Tech and No. 10 seed South Dakota upset No. 7 Ole Miss. Those have been actually surprising. Even when a decrease seed received Friday, like Mississippi State or Georgia, it wasn’t thought of an upset. The Bulldogs have been the betting favourite.

Alissa Pili’s 33-point, eight-rebound efficiency wasn’t a shock, however the Utah star’s eight assists raised an eyebrow (she averaged 2.1 heading into the event). Utah assisted on 32 of its 37 subject targets within the 26-point win over Gardner-Webb.



Grace Stone, Princeton come up massive late to upset NC State

Grace Stone hits a go-ahead 3-pointer late within the sport, then Princeton prevents NC State from getting a last shot off in a 64-63 win.

Philippou: I did not anticipate Gonzaga to lose, not to mention so badly, to Ole Miss (71-48), however credit score the Rebels’ protection. The Bulldogs went 1-for-17 from 3 regardless of coming into the event with a 41.5% clip from the arc, finest within the nation.

And whereas I predicted the Tigers to beat NC State earlier than tip, the Wolfpack appeared in management many of the sport. So I did not suppose it might finish that method, with Carla Berube’s squad clawing again from being down two-possessions early within the fourth and holding NC State scoreless for the ultimate 5:44 of the sport. Credit the Tigers for his or her grit and resilience, one thing we noticed with how they rebounded from their 0-2 Ivy League begin and even in how they rallied from a deficit to just about knock off UConn in December. The Utes’ high-powered offense will probably be a tall process for the defensive-focused Princeton, nevertheless it’ll be an enchanting matchup nonetheless.

Voepel: No. 1 seed Virginia Tech received, however two-time ACC participant of the yr Elizabeth Kitley took simply six photographs in a 58-33 victory over No. 16 Chattanooga. Kitley completed with 12 factors, however as traditional cleaned up on the boards with 14. In the Hokies’ second-round sport towards No. 9 South Dakota State Jackrabbits, they’re prone to want extra touches for his or her star middle. On a constructive notice, it seems the Hokies’ Taylor Soule, who left Friday’s sport, was affected by muscle cramps and is prone to play Sunday.

What are you most trying ahead to seeing Saturday?

Creme: Maryland (93 factors) and Iowa (95) did their half, however with No. 1 seeds South Carolina and Virginia Tech scoring effectively beneath their averages, this event may use an injection of factors. No. 11 seed Middle Tennessee (vs. 6-seed Colorado, 7 p.m. ET on ESPNews) and 12-seed FGCU (vs. 5-seed Washington State, 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU), who every run a ramification offense and transfer the ball, may very well be the upsets and spark that we did not see in Friday’s video games. If the event continues to carry chalk prefer it did largely on Day 1, the second spherical will probably be crammed with heavyweights, however I’m doubting Saturday will go so carefully to type.

Philippou: How fifth-seeded Washington State exhibits up after its Cinderella run within the Pac-12 event will probably be attention-grabbing. As Virginia Tech discovered in final yr’s NCAA event, FGCU is a tricky first-round matchup, however Kamie Ethridge’s Cougars are keen to indicate their 4 wins in 5 days within the Pac-12 tourney weren’t a fluke. They’ll have to convey a standout defensive efficiency towards a staff that shoots extra 3s than anybody else within the nation (and makes loads of them). Charlisse Leger-Walker has been a star out west for years and has gone beneath the radar. Bella Murekatete additionally had a stellar run within the Pac-12 event, scoring a minimum of 19 factors towards Utah and UCLA. Now, each gamers will probably be on nationwide tv — towards one of the vital profitable mid-majors within the sport.

Voepel: I’m to see how the Big 12 will do with 5 of its six groups within the event enjoying Saturday. West Virginia have been the league’s first staff to play, dropping Friday to Arizona. Only one Big 12 staff is internet hosting: No. 4 Texas should not have an excessive amount of bother with No. 13 East Carolina.

The different 4 matchups may very well be attention-grabbing: No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 Portland, and No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Miami are each a distinction of kinds. On the opposite hand, No. 5 Iowa State (276 3-pointers) are considerably much like No. 12 Toledo (209). And No. 7 Baylor, which faces No. 10 Alabama, have been up and down this season. We will see which model of Baylor seems Saturday.

Mississippi State over 6-seed Creighton was a well-liked upset choose. What did you want in regards to the Bulldogs’ first-round win — and the way will they take a look at Notre Dame?



Jordan says MS State relishes NCAA underdog function

After her 20 factors and 4 steals contribute to a 81-66 upset of 6-seed Creighton within the NCAA Tournament, JerKaila Jordan says Mississippi State is just not finished.

Philippou: No. 11 seed Mississippi State was a robust 3-point capturing staff coming into the event; its 35.2% accuracy ranks thirty sixth within the nation. But the Bulldogs picked the proper sport to completely go off from 3, as Friday’s 11 treys tied their season excessive. And whereas Jessika Carter went off towards Illinois (22 factors, 9 rebounds) within the First Four, Mississippi State did not have to depend on her or paint scoring as a lot towards Creighton. The Bulldogs additionally received it finished on the defensive finish, irritating the Bluejays and forcing them to take tough photographs (Creighton completed 26.5% from the arc). If Mississippi State can translate that defensive disruption into Sunday, it may very well be a headache for a Notre Dame staff with out its start line guard. The Irish have been a reasonably good defensive unit, they usually’ll be tasked with ensuring the Bulldogs do not stay sizzling from 3. But Sam Purcell’s squad may be efficient within the paint as effectively by way of Carter and with its guards getting downhill.

Creme: I underestimated Jessika Carter’s measurement and affect in each of Mississippi State’s NCAA event wins. The 6-foot-5 senior has 36 factors and 19 rebounds mixed. What stands out much more in regards to the Bulldogs success this week was that Carter wasn’t even Mississippi State’s finest participant on Friday; junior JerKaila Jordan was. Carter’s measurement adjustments video games, nevertheless it’s not important for the Bulldogs to win.

Their athleticism shined towards Creighton and will bother the Irish. Notre Dame’s backcourt is depleted with out Olivia Miles and Dara Mabrey. Bulldogs coach Sam Purcell goes to have the ability to run Jordan, Anastasia Hayes, Ahlana Smith, Debreasha Powe, Asianae Johnson and Kourtney Weber in a rotation that might put on down Notre Dame’s Sonia Citron and KK Bransford. That group mixed to make 11 of 19 3-pointers towards Creighton and, whereas higher than regular, it was no fluke; Mississippi State was fourth within the SEC in 3-point accuracy this season. If these guards get to the rim with their athleticism and shoot it effectively from deep, and Carter has some affect inside towards Maddy Westbeld and Lauren Ebo, we may get a consequence that we will categorize as a real upset.

This feels acquainted: Iowa hosts a 10-seed on its dwelling court docket within the second spherical. What do you anticipate when the Hawkeyes face Georgia on Sunday?



Caitlin Clark drops 26 factors and dishes 12 assists in first-round win

Caitlin Clark will get her 2023 event off to an amazing begin as she scores 26 factors and provides out 12 assists in Iowa’s dominant first-round win.

Voepel: It’s eerie how related the circumstances are to final yr. Friday, No. 2 seed Iowa received its March Madness opener by 52 factors, this system’s largest margin of victory in an NCAA event sport, with Caitlin Clark scoring 26 factors. That adopted No. 10 seed Georgia beating No. 7 Florida State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Last yr, the Hawkeyes have been additionally a No. 2 seed, received their opener by 40, then confronted the No. 10 seed, which had upset No. 7. That did not go effectively for Iowa, which misplaced 64-62 to Creighton. Iowa doesn’t desire a repeat.

Georgia is a tricky opponent, for various causes than Creighton was. The 2022 Bluejays shot a ton of 3-pointers. Georgia was final within the SEC in 3s; the Bulldogs have 113 this yr to Iowa’s 293. As a consequence, the zone the Hawkeyes used so successfully towards SE Louisiana on Friday may very well be massive towards Georgia, too./p>

But the Bulldogs have measurement, depth and protection: They have held foes to 58.6 PPG this season. Iowa, which has averaged a Division I-best 87.8 PPG, desires a high-scoring sport Sunday. Both Clark and teammate Monika Czinano stated Friday the Hawkeyes will speak as a staff about final yr and what went unsuitable within the second spherical, though this will probably be a really completely different matchup

“Not even so much about the X’s and O’s, but more how dialed in we have to be for every game,” Czinano stated. “The coaches don’t even have to say it. We all know.”