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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Meet the Wichita Region -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Meet the Wichita Region

The Sweet Sixteen is set and Louisville women's basketball continues to dance. The Cards made it through the opening two rounds by defeating U-Albany and Gonzaga. Nebraska was also in Louisville, but fell to the Zags in the round of 64.

Now, Louisville travels to Wichita, Kans. for their next group of four. We all know how 1-seed Louisville made it to this point so let's look at the other three teams the Cards will be spending time with.

4-seed Tennessee

The Lady Vols (yes, the still keep the name "Lady" in their nickname) improved their record to 25-8 after surviving the first two rounds in Knoxville. Five of their first six opponents of the season made the NCAA Tournament and Tennessee won all of those games. In fact, they lost only one non-conference game- a 74-63 loss at home to Stanford.

Tennessee has faltered down the stretch recently, losing seven of their last 14 games including an early exit in the SEC Tournament to eventual champion Kentucky. In that stretch, they fell to Florida, UConn, Alabama, South Carolina, LSU, and Kentucky. All of their losses on the year came to teams that made the Big Dance and four of the losses to teams who hosted the first two rounds on their respective home courts.

I called in some help from a good buddy of mine who is wrapping up his master's degree at UT Knoxville. With his ties to WUTK Radio Knoxville, he has been familiar with Kellie Harper's squad and their accomplishments this year. He also participated in the Cardinal Couple ACC Pick Em and has a bracket in our current Cardinal Couple NCAA Pick Em.

"Tennessee is a team with good size and decent guard play. They can get hot shooting but can also go ice cold. Manufacturing points when they go ice cold will be the downfall of this Tennessee team and the relative inexperience of the team will be to their detriment when they need to manufacture points to stay in a game. They are on the rise, but they are probably a year or two away from truly competing," Jason Wyrick, WUTK Radio Knoxville.

Tennessee began their postseason journey against 13-seed Buffalo. The Lady Vols held a small lead entering the final period before a strong quarter helped them pull away. Their second round opponent was 12-seed Belmont, and the Bruins put up a big fight in Knoxville. After holding a 12-point halftime lead, Tennessee surrendered the lead and had to rally in the final moments to get the win.

3-seed Michigan

A team that Louisville defeated earlier this season might reappear on the Cards' schedule. Michigan has been a tough match-up for most teams this season due to the size and skill of Naz Hillmon, who is averaging 21.3 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game.

Besides their loss to Louisville, the Wolverines have five other losses on their 24-6 record, all coming in conference play. Nebraska, Michigan State, Northwestern, Iowa, and then Nebraska again in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

The Wolverines have big time wins against Indiana, Maryland (2x), Iowa, Ohio State (2x), and Baylor. Their 13-4 conference record (game against Illinois was postponed and later cancelled) put them half a game out of first place in the Big Ten and tied for third in conference play.

Michigan demolished 14-seed American by 35 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. 11-seed Villanova was a tad tougher in the second round but the Wolverines won by 15.

Head coach Kim Barnes Arico is no stranger to Jeff Walz, they played each other a lot when she was the HC at St. John's and the two coached together on the 2015 USA Women's U19 World Championship Team. 

10-seed South Dakota

One of two Cinderella 10-seeds in the Sweet Sixteen is South Dakota. The Coyotes have turned heads so far this tournament, but are no strangers to the Big Dance and the pressure and intensity the NCAA Tournament has to offer.

At 29-5, South Dakota was overlooked by many. They had a rough start to the season by losing to Oklahoma and South Carolina back-to-back. They then won a pair of games before falling to Northwestern and Texas A&M. Since the 2-4 start, the Coyotes won 16 straight before their lone conference loss came to rival South Dakota State.

Thought to be a team on the outside looking in, South Dakota "upset" 1-seed South Dakota State in the Summit League championship to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. They also knocked South Dakota State down to the WNIT, where the Jackrabbits have advanced to the WNIT Sweet Sixteen.

South Dakota held a nine-point halftime lead against 7-seed Ole Miss before outscoring the Rebels in the second half as well to send their SEC foe home. They then pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament by taking down 2-seed Baylor by 14. The Coyotes took the first quarter 16-4 and never relinquished their lead.

Louisville and Tennessee will tip off this Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET / 3:00 p.m. CT Wichita, Kans. time. The game will be aired on ESPN2. South Dakota and Michigan will then tip off at approxiately 6:30 p.m. ET and will also be aired on ESPN2.

Happy Thursday and Go Cards!



  1. The Wichita region has the easiest path for a #1 seed, in my opinion.

    For example, in Greensboro region, South Carolina will have their hands full with North Carolina and then either a surprising Creighton or Iowa.

    In the Spokane region, top seed Stanford has to deal with a very good Maryland squad first and then either a Texas team that beat Baylor or an Ohio St team that sent LSU home.

    In the Bridgeport Region, NC State has a Notre Dame team that has already beaten them this year and if they survive that, a UConn team playing basically a home game or an IU squad that is playing their best basketball right about now.

    I'll be surprised if all four #1 seeds end up in Minneapolis. I do believe the Cards have the best chance of the #1 seeds to get there.

    But -- this Tournament has been crazy with upsets so far.

    Madness, sheer madness.

    Nick O

  2. You can write Uconn in as a final four team. ESPN and the NCAA set that up when they put them in Bridgeport. NC State might as well not show up.

    Curtis "Lower Gas Prices" Franklin

  3. The more I think about it the more I think we'll see South Dakota once we dispose of Tenn. Putting away Ole Miss and Baylor the way they did was impressive.

    The Real Joe Hill

  4. Survive. Advance. Mission accomplished. Next?

    Nick O


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