What to observe for within the first spherical

March Madness begins on St. Patrick’s Day, recognized for luck, leprechauns and pots of gold. And sure, Notre Dame is enjoying Friday as the primary spherical of the 2023 ladies’s NCAA match suggestions off.

For all of the groups which have been ready per week or two to play once more, the joy is contagious.

Your first query on the primary spherical: Will there be any upsets? There are virtually certain to be a number of. Which groups could be this 12 months’s model of Creighton and South Dakota, two No. 10 seeds that gained each of their early-round video games in upsets final season?

ESPN’s Charlie Creme, Alexa Philippou and M.A. Voepel take a look at the first-round video games, performed Friday and Saturday on the residence websites of the top-16 seeds, and mission what we’d see and the place one of the best video games could be performed.

Every sport of the ladies’s match will probably be broadcast on the ABC/ESPN household of networks, and opening weekend will probably be nonstop busy. Follow these hyperlinks for an entire take a look at Friday’s video games and Saturday’s schedule. Be certain to join the Women’s Tournament Challenge and test your bracket as soon as the video games get underway.

Which sport Friday are you most wanting ahead to watching?

Creme: Almost by definition, 8-9 video games are essentially the most intriguing. No. 8 seed Ole Miss vs. No. 9 Gonzaga in Seattle 4 is the one which stands out. I’ve a good suggestion of which staff I believe goes to win in practically each sport of your entire first spherical. Not on this one. I don’t know, and that thriller is why I’m so wanting ahead to it. Ole Miss’ Angel Baker has been a big-time participant within the NCAA match, averaging 24.5 PPG in first-round video games the previous two years — one at Wright State and one with the Rebels. But Ole Miss is not environment friendly on offense (153rd in efficient subject aim proportion), whereas Gonzaga leads the nation in 3-point proportion (41.5%). The distinction makes for an important matchup.

Voepel: No. 11 seed UNLV is 31-2 and on a 22-game profitable streak because the Mountain West regular-season and match champions. The Lady Rebels will meet No. 6 Michigan, which completed tied for fifth within the Big Ten. The Wolverines reached the Elite Eight final 12 months, and this season went 22-9 after dropping Naz Hillmon to the WNBA draft. Michigan struggled with the highest 4 groups within the Big Ten, however the Wolverines’ 81-79 loss to Ohio State within the Big Ten match confirmed the risk they are often.

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Philippou: Aside from those already talked about, No. 10 seed Georgia vs. No. 7 Florida State ought to be a protection vs. offense battle, particularly if FSU freshman Ta’Niya Latson is enjoying. No. 8 USC vs. No. 9 South Dakota State additionally falls into that class. Lindsay Gottlieb has the Trojans on observe this 12 months with their first 20-win season in a while, however the Jackrabbits have not misplaced since Dec. 15, once they had been inside arm’s size of the Gamecocks earlier than an enormous fourth quarter from the defending nationwide champs.

Which web site has one of the best group of video games and potential matchups on opening weekend?



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Philippou: The South Bend pod will probably be nothing in need of fascinating. Notre Dame introduced Thursday that star level guard Olivia Miles (knee damage) will not play once more this season after struggling a knee damage on Feb. 26. In a tough ACC match loss to Louisville, it regarded as if her absence was beginning to meet up with Niele Ivey’s Irish. Notre Dame’s potential second-round matchup could possibly be robust, too, because the Irish would face both 6-seed Creighton or No. 11 Mississippi State. In the First Four, the Bulldogs stymied Illinois’ offense and pushed in transition, and 6-foot-5 Jessika Carter had 22 factors and 9 rebounds. She may trigger issues for undersized Creighton. With Miles out, who is aware of how the Irish will deal with a unit that may be robust defensively and produce each in and out.

Creme: Look on the win totals in Villanova. Florida Gulf Coast gained 32 video games, Cleveland State gained 30 and Villanova 28. Washington State, the one staff with no gaudy win whole (23), has a Pac-12 match title. All that success in a single place is no less than fascinating, if not fascinating. Although I see the host Wildcats rising to get to the Sweet 16, these ought to be shut video games with doubtlessly a whole lot of factors.

Voepel: Texas will probably be an fascinating web site. The Longhorns had been co-Big 12 regular-season champions however scored simply 51 factors in dropping the league match closing to Iowa State. They face American Athletic Conference match champion East Carolina within the first spherical, whereas Louisville takes on Missouri Valley match winner Drake. If No. 4 seed Texas then meets No. 5 Louisville, it is a second-round matchup between groups that had been within the Elite Eight and Final Four, respectively, final 12 months. Texas will have to be lots higher offensively than it was within the Big 12 match.

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Who’s the must-see participant on the courtroom Friday?



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Voepel: You may need heard of her: Caitlin Clark. Iowa followers are so jazzed about Clark and her Big Ten match championship staff that tickets to the early-round video games went about as quick as seats to a Taylor Swift live performance. Carver-Hawkeye Arena was bought out virtually immediately. Clark has had one other spectacular season, together with 4 triple-doubles, and she or he and the Hawkeyes are on a mission after final 12 months’s disappointing second-round loss at residence to Creighton. Iowa’s most up-to-date sport at Carver-Hawkeye was the Feb. 26 win over Indiana that ended on Clark’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Clark’s status for large treys and nice passes precedes her, and she or he just about would not have off video games. It will probably be essential for her supporting solid, which was so good within the Big Ten match, to be at its finest, too.

Creme: Most of the eye on Virginia Tech because the bracket got here out focuses on middle Elizabeth Kitley and the Hokies having their first No. 1 seed. That’s actually warranted. But level guard Georgia Amoore was important to Virginia Tech’s late-season success, and I’m anxious to see how that carries into the NCAA match. Amoore scored 24 and 25 factors within the ACC match semifinals and finals, and through a key stretch of the Hokies’ 11-game profitable streak, she averaged 24 factors per sport towards NC State, Florida State and Duke. Amoore’s step-back jumper is one thing to marvel at and has turn into a backbreaking shot for opponents.

Philippou: Friday could be extra about which must-see gamers aren’t taking the ground. We know Miles is out. ACC Rookie of the Year Latson is taken into account day-to-day for Florida State, however coach Brooke Wyckoff actually may want her star towards a troublesome defensive staff in Katie Abrahamson-Henderson’s Georgia Lady Bulldogs within the first spherical. It’s wanting increasingly more as if 2022 ACC Sixth Woman of the Year Diamond Johnson won’t be accessible for NC State, and given the Wolfpack’s struggles this 12 months, their first-round matchup versus Ivy League champ Princeton screams enormous upset potential.

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How many first-round upsets do you will have in your bracket?

Creme: The phrase upset has an fascinating twist on this first spherical. For my preliminary picks, I selected No. 11 seed Middle Tennessee to beat No. 6 Colorado, Twelfth-seeded Florida Gulf Coast to take down No. 5 Washington State, No. 10 seed Princeton to knock off 7-seed NC State and No. 9 seed South Dakota State to beat No. 8 USC. As it seems, DraftKings would not see a few of these as upsets in any respect. Middle Tennessee, FGCU and South Dakota State are all betting favorites regardless of their decrease seeds (and the Blue Raiders are the twenty seventh hottest staff picked to succeed in the Sweet 16 in Women’s Tournament Challenge brackets; the opposite three 11-seeds rank thirty ninth or worse). The Jackrabbits are a whopping 6.5-point favourite over the Trojans. I’m sticking with these picks, and add UNLV over Michigan as my true upset choose. The Lady Rebels are the No. 11 seed and nonetheless a slight betting underdog.

Voepel: I’m going with six. Charlie is true: What is an upset seeding-wise is not essentially one in actuality. I’ve two of the identical potential upsets he does, with Princeton and South Dakota State shifting into the second spherical. I may see No. 5 Oklahoma attending to the Sweet 16 out of the UCLA early-round web site, Colorado doing the identical out of the Duke web site, No. 9 Gonzaga advancing previous the No. 8 Ole Miss Rebels and Tenth-seeded West Virginia getting by No. 7 Arizona within the first spherical.

Philippou: I included 5 upsets — no less than seeding-wise — in my bracket, however I’ve one other six I’d classify as “under upset watch.” My two wildest ones: 6-seed Creighton dropping to its 11-seed opponent, and 12-seed Drake Bulldogs beating 5-seed Louisville. Creighton has some nights when its pictures merely do not fall. And within the Big East match, it practically misplaced to Seton Hall after permitting Lauren Park-Lane to attain 36 factors. The Bluejays might want to shore up defensively. And then possibly Drake’s environment friendly, balanced offense may overpower Louisville, which has proven enchancment down the stretch however continues to be a far cry from the group that superior to the Final Four final season.