SOUTH CAROLINA HEAVY FAVORITE TO WIN IT ALL
As a friend of mine put it to me..."You've got a odds-on favorite (South Carolina) and then 67 teams hoping they can get to Dallas to try and pull off the upset."
We have a lot of fun around here with "the Tournaments" each year -- we had a highly competitive battle for the CARDINAL COUPLE ACC TOURNAMENT PICK 'EM that Karen J. won, a lot more deliberation and thought traditionally goes into picking the NCAA WBB Brackets and our pick 'em contest for that event. .
The bottom line is this. Someone needs to go on a six-game winning streak to be crowned 2023 NCAA women's basketball tournament champion. Obviously, last year champ -- South Carolina -- is back, still very talented and productive and is your favorite.. Their path, in the Greenville 1 bracket, doesn't look to have too many pit falls. The other contenders in Greenville I (and what's the deal with just two regional sites instead of four?) could be considered to be. And, as luck would have it, the defending champs get to open up and play their first four either at home (in Columbia) or in Greenville, about 100 miles from home.
In Greenville 1, Maryland, Notre Dame and UCLA are strong and impressive squads...but it looks like a pretty easy walk to Dallas for the Gamecocks. Maryland? It should be pointed out that South Carolina beat them by 25 early in the season. Iowa knocked them out in the second round of the Big10 Tournament. Norte Dame probably won't have Olivia Miles for the tournament and they're a different team without her (ask Louisville) even with Sonia Citron. UCLA is a bit intriguing, until you see that South Carolina beat them also in the regular season, and Stanford beat them twice...before they lost to them in the PAC 12 Tournament. ACC fans will remember Gina Conti, she's been a spark for UCLA and Cori Close is a very good head coach, whose been there since 2011.
Still, it's pretty assured that South Carolina advances out of here to the Final Four.
The Seattle 4 Region (seriously, Seattle 4? Sounds like a pop band from the mid-sixties) is an out-and-out dogfight. Stanford is undoubtedly the weakest of the #1 seeds (in my opinion) and Iowa, Duke, Texas, Louisville and my two "long-shot specials" MTSU and Florida State wouldn't surprise me if any of them emerge as Regional Champ. I picked Louisville, for obvious reasons, and the fact that Jeff Walz knows how to get a squad ready for the Final Four. MTSU beat Louisville early in the season, though, by 20+ and Duke handed the Cards a loss, too. Texas must be considered as well, and could send the Cards home. I checked four "so called" experts picks for this region and got four different teams: Stanford, Iowa, Louisville and Texas. Buyer beware here...
I've seen a lot of support for Stanford. And, I can't shun anyone for choosing them, but...
I picked the Louisville Cards, and I'll stay with that choice. Hailey Van Lth hates to lose.
IU is the #1 seed in Greenville 2 and a solid pick. There is a Mulkey in the mix, though, down at LSU and Utah and Florida Gulf Coast had really good seasons. Will NC State recapture the magic for Wes Moore? UNLV is also quite formidable, with just two losses all season. IU went through a conference, though, that ended up getting seven schools in "the dance" I even had someone mention to me that a Iowa, IU, Ohio State and Maryland Final Four wasn't a bad bracket sequence either, and would be a Big10 fan's dream. I countered with a Louisville, Notre Dame, NC State and Virginia Tech Final Four, for the die-hard ACC fan.
I've got Grace Berger and IU sending LSU home, though, and winning the region.
The Seattle 3 region is another "coin-flip" bracket sequence. Sure, #1 seed VT won the ACC, has Elizabeth Kitley, and one of the sharpest coaches in the game these days in Kenny Brooks. But, consider these four things:1) Geno and UConn are in this region. 2) Ohio State is a power house and in this bracket. 3) Tennessee is loaded and in this region 4) North Carolina is capable of beating most anyone when they are on a roll, they had a seven-game win streak that included beating Notre Dame, Duke and NC State, When I did this bracket, I had to do it three times in pencil, before I was satisfied with what I picked. Sorry, UConn and Tennessee...
I'll take Virginia Tech as my winner in this region...downing UConn to get it.
It all starts tonight, with two "play-in" games, and two more Thursday. . As for the "play-in games", I'll go with Sacred Heart over Southern, Tennessee Tech gets by Monmouth, I like Sam Purcell's Mississippi St. team to beat Illinois, and St. John to down Purdue. Does anyone else find it strange that there are two Big 10 schools in the play-in, first four? Traditionally, teams who win play-in games lose in their next appearance.
Oregon has a lot to complain about, being shut out of this year's dance. So does Columbia. But, for the most part, the NCAA managed to get something right when you look at this bracket.
Let the games begin.
IT'S MADNESS, I TELL YOU...SHEER MADNESS
And, that's what the 2023 CARDINAL COUPLE NCAA WBB Pick 'Em is all about. It's a fun affair (except for me and Jared, who have to track your picks) and we get some interesting and well-thought out entries.
Our Bracket Commissioner Jared has asked you to be mindful of a few things.
-- All entries in by Friday, one hour before the first tip.
-- Please submit you entry in one of our comments sections.
-- Don't forget to include a final game total score guess, in case of a tie.
-- Contact our illustrious, sleep-deprived czar at email@example.com or contact Paulie at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions, concerns, cash to bribe the judges with or just to relay some of your favorite songs from Metallica, Fats Domino, Lawrence Welk or Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The main thing is ...have fun and we are offering your choice of a $25 Cracker Barrel or Starbucks Card if you win, with the other card going to second place.
Now, GET BUSY !!! You've got to pick a winner between Okla. St and Miami !!!