Undefeated defending champion South Carolina was made the top overall seed in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament for the second straight year and Indiana, Virginia Tech and Stanford joined the Gamecocks as No. 1 seeds when the bracket was revealed Sunday night.
The Gamecocks are 32-0 to this point, sweeping through the regular season and winning the SEC tournament last week with three double-digit victories.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley is not worried about the proverbial targets on her team’s backs.
“Last year, it was a target with pressure,” Staley said on the ESPN broadcast. “This year, it’s a target with pressure but we’ve already been through it. This team, once they’ve been through something, they’re able to balance out what they’ve been through to facing what they’re currently facing.”
Indiana (27-3) won the Big Ten regular-season title before losing to Ohio State in the semifinals of the conference tournament. Virginia Tech (27-4) won its last 11 games, including a run through the ACC tournament as the No. 3 seed to win the league title. And Stanford (28-5), the 2021 national champion, earned the last No. 1 seed after sharing the Pac-12 regular-season title and losing in the league tournament.
Iowa was made the No. 2 seed in Stanford’s region. The Hawkeyes, led by national player of the year favorite Caitlin Clark, won the Big Ten tournament and shot up to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll but narrowly missed out on one of the top seeds.
UConn, Utah and Maryland picked up the other No. 2 seeds.
“I think the key factor for a lot of folks was the 20 wins in the top 100 (teams) for Stanford,” said Lisa Peterson, the chair of the women’s tournament selection committee. “They had a great season throughout and that one defined moment may have been what it was for them to put them on (the 1) line.”
The top 16 overall teams, as usual, will host first- and second-round games at their campus sites. For the first time, only two locations will host Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games: Greenville, S.C., and Seattle. The regions were named “Greenville 1,” “Greenville 2,” “Seattle 3” and “Seattle 4.”
Joining South Carolina and Maryland in Greenville 1 are No. 3 seed Notre Dame and No. 4 seed UCLA. In Greenville 2, along with Indiana and Utah, are No. 3 seed LSU and No. 4 seed Villanova.
Behind Virginia Tech and UConn in Seattle 3 are No. 3 seed Ohio State and No. 4 seed Tennessee. And joining Stanford and Iowa in Seattle 4 are No. 3 seed Duke and No. 4 seed Texas.
The last four teams in were Illinois, Mississippi State, Purdue and St. John’s. The Fighting Illini will face the Bulldogs and the Boilermakers will play the Red Storm in a pair of First Four games on the 11 line in their respective regions.
–Field Level Media