After an opening weekend filled with upsets, comebacks and general madness, the NCAA women’s tournament is heading to Greenville, S.C., and Seattle for the Sweet 16. With two No. 1 seeds knocked out and several Cinderella stories percolating, the next eight matchups are sure to be heavy on drama. Here’s everything you need ahead of this weekend’s tournament action.
No. 9 Miami vs. No. 4 Villanova, Friday, March 24, 2:30 p.m. ET
The Hurricanes shocked the world Monday night, bouncing No.1 seed Indiana in a 70–68 thriller, pulling off the upset in front of a raucous Assembly Hall crowd. Destiny Harden hit the game-winning shot with three seconds left on the clock, bringing the Hoosiers’ dream season to an abrupt end. Now, the 21–12 Canes will take on a red-hot Villanova side anchored by Maddy Siegrist, who dropped 35 and 31 points as her side cruised to victories over No. 13 Cleveland State and No. 12 FGCU. Katie Meier’s team will need to deploy the same disciplined defense it utilized against the Hoosiers if the Canes want to get past the Wildcats and continue their underdog run.
The Wildcats enter Friday’s contest well-rested, having yet to be truly tested, and with the way Siegrist is playing, it's hard to envision this Villanova side going down ahead of the Elite Eight.
No. 2 Utah vs. No. 3 LSU, Friday, March 24, 5 p.m. ET
The Greenville matchup between Utah and LSU may be the game of the Sweet 16. Kim Mulkey’s Tigers have been dominant thus far, shirking off a pre-tournament reputation of not being battle-tested with a weak nonconference schedule. The key for LSU has been, who else but Angel Reese, with the star forward notching a staggering 25 points, 24 rebounds, six blocks and four assists to lead her side to a compelling win over a formidable No. 6 Michigan. Reese & Co. will run into a resilient No. 2 Utah, which ended Princeton’s Cinderella run with a plucky 63–56 win to advance to its first Sweet 16 since 2006.
The Tigers appear locked in, with Reese looking hungry for some hardware. While it will likely be close, LSU will ultimately pull out the win.
No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 6 Colorado, Friday, March 24, 7:30 p.m. ET
Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes survived a scare from No. 10 Georgia to continue in the Big Dance. The star guard put on a masterclass, dropping 22 points, 12 assists and three rebounds, showcasing her range with a shot from the logo—something fans have grown accustomed to from Clark. Iowa’s sharpshooting will be tested against Colorado, which is coming off an OT thriller against No. 3 Duke. The Buffs will hope their gritty frontcourt can lift it to back-to-back upsets and extend its unlikely tournament run.
While the Hawkeyes have not played the most consistent basketball, Clark’s overwhelming presence is difficult for any team to manage—especially a Colorado squad coming off an emotional overtime victory.
No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 5 Louisville, Friday, March 24, 10 p.m. ET
It was an emotional scene in Maples Pavillon on Sunday as Ole Miss took down the mighty Cardinal, halting Stanford’s streak of 14 straight trips to the Sweet 16. Rebels coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin led an organized defensive unit, stifling any momentum from the Cardinal (mostly created by Haley Jones and Cameron Brink, who combined for 36 points). With little production from the rest of the Stanford roster, Ole Miss snuck by the 2021 champs. In Seattle, the Rebels will take on Louisville, which is coming off an upset of its own, thumping No. 4 Texas.
Hailey Van Lith is an uncompromising presence and is only more dogged come tournament time. If she is on and able to overcome Ole Miss’ defense, she and the Cardinals will move on to the Elite Eight.
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Maryland, Saturday, March 25, 11:30 a.m. ET
Despite tremendous adversity, Notre Dame is still dancing. Without stars Oliva Miles and Dara Mabrey, the Fighting Irish have leaned on Sonia Citron and Lauren Ebo, who combined for 24 points to advance past No. 11 Mississippi State. No. 2 Maryland, however, presents a trickier challenge, with the Terrapins boasting plenty of potential firepower. Four players finished in the double figures, led by Diamond Miller’s 24 points, to beat No. 7 Arizona, and the Terps will need Miller to show up again to get past Notre Dame.
With Notre Dame’s roster limited, it may just be too much of an ask to take out a Miller-led Terps team.
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 4 UCLA, Saturday, March 25, 2 p.m. ET
It's been relatively smooth sailing for reigning champions South Carolina thus far, defeating both No. 16 Norfolk State and No. 8 South Florida by more than 30 points. With experience, size and depth all to the Gamecocks' advantage, it's hard to imagine any team bringing their undefeated season to an end. However, that’s precisely what UCLA will try to do Saturday after moving past a 26-7 Oklahoma team. The Bruins and Gamecocks met earlier in the season, with Dawn Staley’s team coming back from a 10-point deficit to beat UCLA 73–64 at home. Charisma Osborne, who dropped 36 points Monday, will need to be on her A game again against South Carolina if the Bruins want to take down this women’s basketball giant.
Pick: South Carolina
It won’t be easy like their last two games, but the Gamecocks will use their depth to get past a fierce UCLA squad.
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 UConn, Saturday, March 25, 4 p.m. ET
UConn is on a quest for its 15th straight Final Four appearance, but first, the Huskies will run into Ohio State in the Sweet 16. The Buckeyes have yet to put together a comprehensive wire-to-wire performance this tournament, but their scrappy play lifted them to a narrow win over No. 6 UNC. Conversely, Geno Auriemma’s Huskies—despite an up-and-down regular season—have looked energized with Azzi Fudd back to playing considerable minutes, dropping 22 points against Baylor on Monday.
The Huskies will overcome Ohio State’s full-court press, with Fudd helping her team to the Elite Eight.
No. 1 Virginia Tech vs. No. 4 Tennessee, Saturday, March 25, 6:30 p.m. ET
Saturday’s showdown will mark the second matchup between the Hokies and Lady Vols this season, with Virginia Tech walking away with a 59–56 win in December. This Sweet 16 matchup will likely be just as close, with Virginia Tech riding a 13-game winning streak and Tennessee fielding explosive offensive performances in the opening two tournament rounds. Containing ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley will be critical for the Lady Vols, with the center averaging 18.2 points and 10.8 rebounds on the season. For the Hokies, they will need to slow down a rich roster, with five plays finishing in double figures in the first two rounds.
Pick: Virginia Tech
If Kitley is locked in, this is Virginia Tech’s for the taking as the Hokies ride their impressive winning streak into the next round of the Big Dance.