Five Teams to Watch in the N.C.A.A. Women’s Tournament

One of the best joys in sports activities is seeing a staff come out of nowhere to contend, and even win. This yr’s N.C.A.A. women’s basketball bracket has loads of newcomers, they usually all have the potential to make noise.

The factor about up and coming groups is that they’re hungry for that first match victory, and every little thing is a milestone. For lots of them, it’s been win or go house for the previous couple of weeks.

At least 5 newcomers ought to make issues attention-grabbing.

The Mountain Hawks didn’t have a simple path to the Patriot League championship. First they knocked off top-seeded Bucknell on the highway; then, they stopped a near-dominant second-seeded Boston University staff, additionally on the highway.

The Patriot League hosted its match on campus websites, so there was lots of touring to beat two groups that had been anticipated to head to San Antonio. The win at Boston was significantly spectacular. Lehigh staked a lead in the first quarter and by no means allowed a pointy capturing Terriers squad again in the game, incomes its first match berth since 2010.

The Mountain Hawks are dangerous in sneaky methods; their 200 fouls had been the 15th fewest in the nation. Their three-point capturing is their bread and butter, with 9.Eight makes an attempt per game going for 3, and their protection is hard, holding groups to a 26.2 p.c clip behind the arc, 19th lowest in the nation.

Like all Patriot League groups, the Mountain Hawks solely performed groups in their very own convention, and acquired in 15 video games after beginning their marketing campaign in January. Lehigh isn’t the sort of staff getting the regular March hype headlines, however that they’ve been in upset mode for weeks already is a worthy narrative.

They sneaked up on two groups in the Patriot League. Perhaps they may do it on an even bigger stage.

For the first time in 26 years, the Mountaineers are dancing. The Northeast Conference champs simply defeated Wagner 70-38 on their method to the nationwide match.

Fourth-year head coach Maria Marchesano led them to their first 20-win season since 1999. The final time they made the nationwide match was 1995, their solely different look coming in 1994.

The romping on Sunday to earn the crown wasn’t a foregone conclusion, both. The second-ranked Seahawks had swept Mount at the finish of the common season, however the Mountaineers responded with a vengeance.

Not a ton stands out about the Mountaineers on paper. Their 12.7 scoring margin was 26th in the nation. The margin of victory in the title game, the first NEC championship with a spot that enormous since 2013, is an effective instance of what they’re like when firing on all cylinders.

An all-Maryland matchup is at all times enjoyable, although, and to play in opposition to a giant canine like the Terps in the first spherical and maintain it in-state for a wild group of Maryland basketball followers will certainly give the No. 15 seed some further power.

Rebecca Lee had two double-doubles in the convention match and Aryna Taylor and Kendall Bresee had been dominant as nicely. Keep a watch on them: they are going to be the go-to gamers on offense.

The seventh-seeded Cowgirls in Mountain West have been taking part in one-and-done basketball for some time. Ranked so low in their very own convention, they wanted an computerized qualifier bid to have a prayer at the nationwide match.

It took 4 wins in 4 nights to punch their ticket, together with a good 59-56 win over Fresno State in the championship game. They grew to become the lowest seed to win the Mountain West match.

Quinn Weidemann was named the match MVP averaging 13.5 factors per game.

Leading scorer McKinley Bradshaw averaged 11.6 factors per game throughout the course of the season and she or he and Weidemann will probably be the Cowgirls most relied upon scorers.

Their energy is their protection; the Cowgirls allowed simply 57.Three opponent factors per game, good for the 35th ranked staff in the nation.

This rendition of the Cowgirls, a program that has been energetic since 1973, had by no means gained a convention championship game. When they made the match in 2008, it was as an at-large squad.

They defeated four-time convention champion Boise State and second-seeded UNLV and eventually Fresno State. There are 5 Wyoming-born gamers on the roster, they usually have already led the Cowgirls to extra success than the program has ever seen.

It’s laborious to say any extra victories would merely be gravy, but it surely has already been a fairy-tale season for the Cowgirls.

In their third consecutive C.A.A. championship, the Dragons lastly acquired it carried out by taking down top-seeded Delaware. It’s been years of heartbreak, and it regarded like they had been on tempo for a 3rd consecutive defeat with a nine-point halftime deficit to overcome.

Instead, Junior Keishana Washington, the match’s M.V.P. got here by way of with back-to-back 30 level contests to lead the Dragons. Senior Hannah Nihill tallied 14 factors after halftime to assist in the dramatic comeback.

The Dragons story, like so many groups both making their debut or first look in a decade, is one in every of perseverance. They weren’t favored in a deep C.A.A. discipline, with Delaware and Towson anticipated to win.

Junior guard Maura Hendrixson completed the season with a 3.80 help to turnover ratio, good for third in the nation. Nihill was 17th with 2.86 steals per game. This is a staff that may steal possessions and never flip the ball over.

Drexel is super at disrupting groups, and that’s what it’s all about for squads in search of to upset their opponents. The Dragons may simply carry on stunning.

It took a giant effort to beat a stable Maine staff in the America East championship, however the Sea Wolves are dancing for the first time.

It may have been the second; Stony Brook acquired shut to its first America East title final season earlier than the match was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic proper after they certified for the game.

With an opportunity to lastly take it, they did, upsetting the Black Bears behind Anastasia Warren, who netted a career-high 31 factors and sunk two free throws with 0.7 seconds left in the game to seal a 64-60 victory in opposition to the staff they need to have battled a yr in the past. It was an enormous emotional victory.

The Sea Wolves should now flip their consideration towards greater — and higher — opponents. Their scoring protection was fourth in the nation with opponents averaging simply 50.7 factors per game. They can smother groups on that finish of the ground, like they did in opposition to a stable scoring offense like Maine.

Now, on an even bigger stage than the America East match, they give the impression of being to defy the odds once more.

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