South Carolina, Baylor, Louisville and Oregon would be the four top seeds if the NCAA women’s basketball tournament began Monday.
The NCAA on Monday provided its first snapshot of the top 16 teams in the tournament field. Those schools would potentially host the opening two rounds of the NCAA tournament, which begins March 20.
“I will say the committee was pretty consistent on the top four,” said Diane Turnham, chair of the women's basketball committee. “One to six could elevate themselves to different positions. South Carolina has one loss in November. Baylor, Oregon and Louisville had a lot of discussion. These are tough calls. They could change.”
The Gamecocks would be the No. 1 seed in Greenville, South Carolina. The Lady Bears would be staying close to home in the Dallas Region. Louisville would head to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and be the top seed there. Oregon would also be near home, playing in Portland.
Joining South Carolina would be N.C. State, UCLA and Iowa as the top four seeds in that region. Stanford, Gonzaga and Arizona would be in Dallas with Baylor. UConn, Oregon State and Northwestern would be in Indiana. Maryland, Mississippi State and DePaul would be in Oregon.
The Terps, who rose to No. 13 in Monday’s Associated Press poll, have won six straight games after slipping to 11-4 and 2-2 in the Big Ten. Maryland (17-4, 8-2), which has won four regular-season titles and three conference tournament titles since joining the Big Ten in 2014-15, entered Monday night’s game against Michigan State behind No. 21 Northwestern (19-3, 9-2) and No. 20 Iowa (18-4, 9-2) in the conference standings.
Turnham said there are seven or eight other teams knocking on the door to be in the top 16.
“We schedule two hours and were well over it,” said Turnham, who is in her fourth year on the committee. “Incredible amount of conversation and reviewing of teams.”
The committee will do one more top 16 reveal on March 2. The bracket will be unveiled on March 16. The Final Four is in New Orleans this year with the semifinals on April 3 and the title game two days later.
“Our top 16 could look very different,” Turnham said of the next reveal. “Some teams trending up and down. Some with injuries. The next reveal will have a lot more to it.”