Women’s March Madness predictions and Final Four picks

The 2023 girls’s NCAA event bracket is in, the sport schedule is about and a champion shall be topped on the Final Four in Dallas in only a few weeks.

The undefeated and defending nationwide champion South Carolina Gamecocks trip a 38-game successful streak into March Madness. ESPN analytics give the Gamecocks a 46.4% likelihood to win the title.

The UConn Huskies — which misplaced to the Gamecocks within the NCAA title recreation a 12 months in the past and are a No. 2 seed on the opposite aspect of the bracket this season — have the following finest odds at 11.2%. The top-seeded Stanford Cardinal and Indiana Hoosiers each are available at 7.1%, and fellow No. 1 seeded Virginia Tech Hokies are subsequent at 5.3%.

Brackets are open! Head to Women’s Tournament Challenge and fill out your bracket now! And click on right here for a printable bracket.

We’ve already damaged down the 68-team area by area. We’ve named one of the best gamers within the bracket. Now, ESPN’s Charlie Creme, Alexa Philippou and M.A. Voepel assess the true championship contenders, whether or not anybody has a shot at dethroning South Carolina and be a part of a handful of ESPN analysts in making Final Four and championship predictions.

If South Carolina would not run the desk for its second consecutive title, which crew will elevate the championship trophy?

Voepel: South Carolina has taken the Tennessee Lady Volunteers’ place as one of the best program in what remains to be a really difficult SEC, even in a down 12 months conference-wide. For everybody outdoors the UConn fan base, the Huskies are the Michael Myers of girls’s hoops: You cannot eliminate them as they maintain exhibiting up in an countless sequence of sequels. Stanford is company legislation agency of faculty sports activities.

I do not suppose anybody will cease the Gamecocks from repeating; they’ve too many good gamers, they play properly collectively and coach Dawn Staley has accomplished a wonderful job getting them to focus utterly on the duty at hand.

But if somebody goes to knock them off, it is likely to be Stanford within the nationwide semifinals or UConn within the nationwide championship recreation. This is simply based mostly on the actual fact these two groups performed the Gamecocks as shut as they did through the common season: The Cardinal misplaced by 5 in extra time in November, and the Huskies by 4 in February. We cannot be optimistic that both Stanford or UConn will attain the Final Four; that is particularly the case for the Cardinal. But in the event that they do, the Cardinal and the Huskies a minimum of know from expertise what it can take to beat the Gamecocks in the event that they face off once more.

Philippou: After South Carolina, I feel it is between Indiana and UConn. Despite dropping two of their previous three video games, the Hoosiers have been probably the most constant crew not situated in Columbia, is powerful on each ends of the ground and manages to supply each star energy in Mackenzie Holmes and but unimaginable steadiness with Grace Berger, Sydney Parrish, Yarden Garzon, Sara Scalia and Chloe Moore-McNeil. While some level to Indiana’s lack of depth as a flaw, I am unable to see that being a serious deciding issue given every part else the Hoosiers have going for them. (And I’ll elaborate on the Huskies slightly decrease.)

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Creme: Picking the No. 2 total to have one of the best shot at knocking off the No. 1 is not notably creative, however I firmly consider that Indiana has one of the best likelihood of beating South Carolina. It will take the fitting evening and the Gamecocks not enjoying at their peak, but when that occurs Indiana has sufficient within the arsenal to go the space. The Hoosiers transfer and shoot the ball properly and have steadiness and expertise to a minimum of offensively tackle South Carolina if the 2 meet within the championship recreation.



Virginia Tech’s NCAA event preview

Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for Virginia Tech’s NCAA event prospects.

Which No. 1 seed would be the first to lose?

Creme: While I just like the matchups in entrance of Stanford within the first three rounds of the Seattle 4 Regional, I’ve some issues in regards to the Cardinal. They have had sufficient moments and even full video games of poor offense — see: 47 factors towards USC or 5 factors within the first quarter towards Colorado — to marvel if Stanford can put 4 good performances collectively to succeed in the Final Four. If the Cardinal get to an Elite Eight, can it outscore the second-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes?

Philippou: The Cardinal are clearly skilled in March and will flip issues round within the coming weeks, however the way in which they concluded the common season and their current offensive points are worrisome. And whereas I do not suppose it is doubtless, the actual fact Virginia Tech hasn’t performed within the later rounds of the NCAA event in practically 25 years makes me marvel if there is a second when the Hokies have an off evening and the stress catches as much as them. They do not have the best path, both, with potential matchups towards the South Dakota State Jackrabbits or USC Trojans and certain both Tennessee or the Iowa State Cyclones.

Voepel: As Alexa talked about, Virginia Tech is by far the least skilled program of the No. 1 seeds on the subject of lengthy NCAA event runs: South Carolina and Stanford gained the final two titles and Indiana went to the Elite Eight two years in the past. Based on that, the Hokies appear probably the most weak. But in addition they have gained 11 video games in a row and are enjoying very confidently.

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Name a crew that’s considerably underrated.

Creme: While I’m choosing UConn to return out of Seattle 3, the Ohio State Buckeyes may very well be the crew to spoil the occasion. The No. 3 seed began the season 19-0 largely with out Jacy Sheldon. Now she is again and their youthful gamers, particularly freshman Cotie McMahon, proved they have been as much as the problem within the Big Ten. Ohio State’s urgent fashion may give any crew bother, particularly if you have not seen it. The Louisville Cardinals struggled mightily with it earlier this season, and the LSU Tigers wilted underneath the Ohio State stress in final 12 months’s second spherical.



UNC’s NCAA event preview

Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for North Carolina’s NCAA event prospects.

Philippou: Ohio State is a harmful 3-seed for all the explanations Charlie acknowledged, however I am unable to consider the Buckeyes’ potential second-round matchup can be towards the 6-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. That should not be taking place this early within the event!

Voepel: I will not say No. 5 seed Iowa State was drastically underseeded. However, within the girls’s bracket, the distinction between a 4- and 5-seed is big as a result of the highest 4 in every area get to host. The choice committee clearly made its top-16 choices earlier than the Big 12 event title recreation was even performed Sunday. The committee did not appear to keep in mind the Cyclones beat the Texas Longhorns — in addition to fellow NCAA event groups the Baylor Bears within the quarterfinals and Oklahoma Sooners within the semifinals — by double digits.

If there may be one constant inconsistency in regards to the committee all these years, it is that they contradict themselves so much on how necessary convention tournaments are. They even do it in the identical part of the bracket, pointing to at least one crew’s convention event success as necessary, whereas primarily dismissing one other crew’s success.



UConn’s NCAA event preview

Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for UConn’s NCAA event prospects.

Outside of the No. 1 seeds, what different crew has one of the best shot of successful all of it?

Philippou: UConn. The Huskies have had a rocky season however it has solely made them come collectively greater than ever towards their frequent purpose of successful a championship. They’ve turned issues round after their disappointing February and are getting one of the best out of Dorka Juhasz and Aaliyah Edwards, and powerful put up play hasn’t essentially been a power the previous few tournaments. With expertise in high-pressure conditions coming into play, and the attainable transcendence of Azzi Fudd, I’m choosing UConn because the non-No. 1-seed that has one of the best shot at successful all of it — and really, the second-favorite to chop down the nets.

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Voepel: A program that has 11 NCAA titles and has been to the Final Four yearly since 2008 will proceed to be a menace to win all of it until one thing drastically adjustments. But since Charlie and Alexa have UConn lined, let’s take a look at Iowa.

The Hawkeyes may be an offensive powerhouse like few groups we are going to ever see within the event. And whereas they’re a greater defensive crew this season by way of getting stops once they actually need them, it is nonetheless about scoring for them. Can their offense carry all of them the way in which to a title? That shall be robust; UConn nonetheless appears the more than likely of the No. 2 seeds to prevail. But if the Hawkeyes do it, it will likely be with a extremely thrilling model of basketball.



Iowa’s NCAA event preview

Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for Iowa’s NCAA event prospects.

Are we shortchanging the opposite No. 2 seeds? The Maryland Terrapins are a previous nationwide champion, however that is 17 years within the rearview mirror. Interestingly sufficient, the 12 months the Terps gained all of it — 2006 — they beat this 12 months’s different No. 2 seed, the Utah Utes, within the Elite Eight. Maryland and Utah each may very well be Elite Eight groups this 12 months, however it would not appear doubtless they are going to be in Dallas.

Creme: We nonetheless do not know precisely what UConn will appear to be with Fudd’s full return. She eased again into the lineup within the Big East event however did not produce a lot. That might need not been one of the best indicator given the timing. If it is something just like the model of the Huskies that beat Texas, the NC State Wolfpack, the Duke Blue Devils and Iowa in succession in November, UConn is a Final Four crew. Without Fudd, the Huskies remained aggressive with South Carolina in February, so they’re one other crew that would probably upend the heavy favorites.

Final Four picks



LSU’s NCAA event preview

Charlie Creme breaks down his forecast for LSU’s NCAA event prospects.

Andrea Adelson: South Carolina (champion), LSU, UConn, Iowa

Charlie Creme: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Iowa

Aja Ellison: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa

Kelly Gramlich: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa

Doug Kezirian: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa

Kevin Pelton: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Iowa

Alexa Philippou: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Iowa

Roy Philpott: South Carolina (champion), Utah, Virginia Tech, Iowa

Steffi Sorensen: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Iowa

Christy Thomaskutty: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Stanford

M.A. Voepel: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, UConn, Iowa

Stephanie White: South Carolina (champion), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Iowa