The bracket has been revealed for the 2019 NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Your No. 1 seeds are Baylor, Louisville, Notre Dame and Mississippi State. Trendy upset picks are beginning to be identified — keep an eye on No. 11 Princeton — and teams are beginning to book flights and bus trips to sites of first round battles.
There’s a lot more to talk about after the reveal. Let’s get to it.
UConn isn’t a No. 1 seed
Despite the Huskies’ No. 2 ranking in the latest AP Top 25 poll, the committee did not award them with a No. 1 seed.
UConn is the second seed in the Albany region. Louisville is the top seed in that quadrant of the bracket. It’s the first time since 2006 that the Huskies haven’t been a No. 1 seed.
It wasn’t exactly a down-year for UConn. The Huskies went 31-2 and won the regular season and tournament titles in the American Athletic Conference. They beat tournament-bound teams in DePaul, Notre Dame, Cal, UCF and South Carolina. Their only two losses came against No. 1 seeds Louisville and Baylor.
In 2006, UConn made the Elite Eight as a No. 2 seed. But since 2008, they’ve made the Final Four every year.
Although Louisville is the one-seed in this region and UConn is No. 2, Albany is much closer to the home of the Huskies than the Cardinals. Louisville to Albany is about a 13-hour drive. From UConn, it’s about two hours. Should Louisville and UConn meet in the Elite Eight, it will likely feel much more like a road game for the higher seed.
UConn will begin its tournament by hosting No. 15 Towson.
— UConn Women’s Hoops (@UConnWBB) March 13, 2019
Tennessee is in
The streak goes on for the Lady Vols, who were anchored on the bubble of the tournament for the past few weeks, stuck in limbo. On Sunday, the selection committee included Tennessee in a collection of eight teams vying for the final four spots, dubbed “the debatable eight.”
Tennessee was pegged as a No. 11 seed in the Albany region. In the first round, the Lady Vols will face No. 6 UCLA in College Park, Maryland. The winner of that game will face the victor in a matchup between the Terps and No. 14 Radford.
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With the Lady Vols getting in, there still hasn’t been a women’s NCAA tournament without them. Tennessee has appeared in every tournament since it was introduced in 1982, a streak of 38 seasons.
Tennessee is 19-12 (7-9 SEC) this year under Holly Warlock. Getting by UCLA won’t be easy though, as UCLA has won 11 of their last 14 games.
The 11-seed in the Albany Region. pic.twitter.com/K7pbU2gVaH
— Lady Vol Basketball (@LadyVol_Hoops) March 18, 2019
UCF is in
The committee seems to think the American Athletic Conference was good enough for multiple bids and gave Central Florida an at-large bid.
The Knights, who received three votes in the latest AP Top 25 Poll, went 26-6 this season and lost to UConn in the conference tournament title game. UCF took wins over tournament teams this season in Mercer and Quinnipiac.
UCF won’t go far for their first round game. They’re headed to Coral Gables, Florida, where they’ll take on No. 5 Arizona State. The winner will advance to face either Miami or Florida Gulf Coast.
Left out of the party
Of the teams on the Debatable Eight list released by the selection committee on Sunday, Tennessee, UCF, Auburn and Princeton got in. Princeton became a lock after they won the Ivy League bid Sunday night.
The teams that didn’t get in from that list include Arkansas, TCU, Indiana and Ohio.
Ohio won the regular season MAC title, but fell to Buffalo in the conference tournament title game. The Bobcats finished with a 27-5 record and are likely headed for the WNIT.
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TCU was 20-10, Indiana was 20-12 and Arkansas was 20-14.
Also left out of the tournament — unsurprisingly — was Oklahoma, which had the fifth longest active streak of NCAA tournament appearances with 19. The Sooners underperformed this season, finishing with a 8-22 record.
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Marquette vs. Rice could be fun
One of the more intriguing first round matchups is in the Chicago Region, where No. 5 Marquette will face No. 12 Rice in the first round in College Station, Texas.
This battle will feature the nation’s fourth best offense against the nation’s sixth best defense. Marquette scores 82.9 points per game, but Rice only allows 52.8 points per game.
Marquette was 18th in the latest AP Top 25 Poll, while Rice was voted 21st.
The Owls, who won the CUSA title, are led by Erica Ogwumike, who averages 16.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. The Golden Eagles fell in the Big East final to DePaul, but went 26-7 and are led by Natisha Hiedeman’s per-game averages of 17.8 points and 6.1 rebounds.
The winner of Marquette-Rice will face either Texas A&M or Wright State.
.@RiceWBB is going dancing! 💃
— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) March 18, 2019
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.