Women’s basketball looks to impress in NCAA Tournament

Women's basketball looks to impress in NCAA Tournament

Photo by Max Arnold

Nathalie Jones, 23 Sports Reporter

After an early first round exit in the SEC Tournament, the Tigers are looking to bring home a title in the NCAA Tournament.

The obvious favorite in the tournament is the undefeated Connecticut Huskies. They have played a flawless season thus far. The team is currently on a 107-game winning streak and owes its success to a few key players. On the offensive end, Katie Lou Samuelson leads the Huskies with an average of 21 points a game, with a 49 percent field goal average. Samuelson couldn’t do it without her leader in assists, Gabby Williams, with 168 assists on the season.

Looking to the defense, Napheesa Collier is the clear all-star. She leads in defensive rebounds with 197 and blocks with 63.

Overall, the Huskies have shown the nation what a true powerhouse and fast-paced offense can do, no matter what defense they face.

Needless to say, the Huskies are the favorite in the Bridgeport Regional. However, in the Oklahoma City Regional it is between the No. 1 and No. 2 seed, Baylor and Mississippi State. Both had very strong seasons thus far, however, Mississippi State’s power offense takes the cake.

Mississippi State is known for their high-pressure offensive game. Teaira McCowan has dominated their offense this season, with 58 percent accuracy from the field. McCowan’s pure athleticism has launched her to a spot as one of the top players in the nation.

McCowan has a lot of help, however, as her teammate Chinwe Okrie follows closely behind her in accuracy with 57.8 percent from the field. Assisting them in those stellar shots is the team’s assists leader, Morgan Williams with 151 assists. The run-and-gun offensive style of the Bulldogs makes them a tough matchup.

Moving on to the Lexington Regional, the obvious favorite would be the No. 1 seed Notre Dame, however, there may be an upset on the horizon. The No. 3 seed, Texas, has played an amazing season under head coach, Karen Aston.

The Longhorns continue the trend of offensive dominance, with five players shooting over 45 percent on field goals. Leading her team is Kelsey Lang with a 53 percent average. Lang has played a stellar season, as the senior has really stepped up in the leadership role on the court.

Her support comes in the form of Joyner Holmes and Lashann Higgs. Holmes is a powerhouse on the defensive end of the court, leading the team with 164 defensive rebounds. On the other hand, Lang’s offensive support comes in the form of Higgs. She follows closely behind Lang with a 48 percent field goal average, becoming a wing-man of sorts for Lang on the court.

Last but certainly not least comes the Stockton Regionals. No. 1 seed South Carolina has played a dominating season, however, another upset could be waiting in the wings. In Missouri’s annual pink-out game, the nation watched as the Tigers upset one of the top teams in the country, South Carolina.

Missouri has impressed college basketball with their fast-paced but calm approach. The source of success for Missouri has come in the form of Lindsey and Sophie Cunningham and Sierra Michaelis.

The Cunningham duo has run the Mizzou offense the entireity of the season. Sophie Cunningham leads the Tigers with 48 percent accuracy from her field goals, however Lindsey Cunningham follows closely behind with 44 percent accuracy.

Of the two sisters, Sophie Cunningham is the double-edged sword, as she knows how to drain the clutch shots. Only a sophomore, she is beginning to take on the leadership role her sister, senior Lindsey Cunningham, is going to be leaving behind.

On the defensive end of the Tigers equation, there is Michaelis. She posts strong numbers in defensive rebounds (128) and steals (57). The senior has had the season of her life as she set the program record for assists, as well.

Overall, the tournament is going to be unpredictable, as usual. The top seed teams are powerhouses, however, there are some lower-level teams who have the possibility for major upsets.

The Missouri Tigers will begin the first round of the tournament on March 17 as they face off against South Florida at 5 p.m.