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Corey’s 2017 Women’s Bracket

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Bridgeport Region

First Round

1. Connecticut vs. 16. Albany

As the alum of an America East School (Go UMBC Retrievers), I was hoping I could cheer for the conference champions for a bit in this tournament. Last year Albany beat Florida in the first round and this year they had a veteran squad, led by Imani Tate, but they just had to draw Connecticut. Look, UConn’s winning streaks is going to end eventually, but it’s not going to end against the Great Danes.

Pick: 1. Connecticut Huskies

8. Syracuse vs. 9 Iowa State

Iowa State ended the season better and have a much better balance of scoring options with three players topping 14 points per game and two more around eight points a game. But Syracuse has a tremendous offense that ranks 13th in the nation with 80 points per game. Alexis Peterson and Brittney Sykes are very hard to slow down, and defense isn’t the Cyclones strength anyway.

Pick: 8. Syracuse Orange

5. Texas A&M vs. 12. Pennsylvania

Penn is going to make this a tough game for the Aggies. Texas A&M slowed down at the end of the year, but in this game it won’t be easy for center Khaalia Hillsman to have a big game. The Quakers are third in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 52.4 points per game. The problem is they just don’t have the offense needed slow a team like Texas A&M down for an upset.

Pick: 5. Texas A&M Aggies

4. UCLA vs. 13. Boise State

The Bruins won’t be happy about the cross country trip they’ll have to take later if they move on, but they at least will host the first two rounds. UCLA is undefeated at home this year. Jordin Canada does everything and Monique Billings is a dominant post player, and the Broncos don’t have anybody at that level.

Pick: 4. UCLA Bruins

6. West Virginia vs. 11. Elon

It’s hard to pick the Big 12 tournament champion to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but this is a pretty strong matchup for Elon. The Phoenix have a very balanced offense and are a strong rebounding team. The problem is, they might struggle to stretch out West Virginia’s defense without any dominant 3-point threats. The Mountaineers Tynice Martin is a dynamic scorer and Teanna Muldrow and Lanay Montgomery are a tough duo inside.

Pick: 6. West Virginia Mountaineers

3. Maryland vs. 14. Bucknell

I couldn’t believe Maryland got a No. 3 seed. Sure, their strength of schedule wasn’t the best, but they held within six of UConn and that was one of their only two losses in their 30-2 campaign. Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough are two of the very best players in the country and lead the nation’s best offense.

Pick: 3. Maryland Terrapins

7. Temple vs. 10. Oregon

This game is going to be decided at the 3-point line, one way or another. Temple has one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the country and while Oregon doesn’t make a lot of them, they make a lot of the ones they attempt. Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu is one of the country’s best freshman, but Temple is a much more experienced team. It’s an interesting battle but the efficiency of the Ducks puts them over the edge.

Pick: 10. Oregon Ducks

2. Duke vs. 15. Hampton

The Pirates have a nice balances offensive attack, but they don’t do anything that would make a big upset possible. Duke and their shutdown defense shouldn’t have a problem keeping Hampton at bay.

Pick: 2. Duke Blue Devils

Second Round

1. Connecticut vs. 8. Syracuse

A rematch of a Final Four game last year, but while this Syracuse team has one of the best offenses in the country, their defense won’t be able to hold up against the Huskies and Katie Lou Samuelson.

Pick: 1. Connecticut Huskies

5. Texas A&M vs. 4. UCLA

TAMU is pretty efficient offensively, but they they probably don’t have the defense needed to slow down the Bruins. With Jordin Canada, Monique Billings and Kennedy Burke all able to put up big numbers, the Bruins should remain undefeated at home.

Pick: 4. UCLA Bruins

6. West Virginia vs. 3. Maryland

West Virginia wins because of their rebounding, but Maryland dominates on the glass. Nobody is out-muscling Brionna Jones and freshman Kaila Charles does a great job working off of Jones inside. If the Mountaineers can’t win on the boards or force many turnovers, they my not have enough opportunities to get a big upset.

Pick: 3. Maryland Terrapins

10. Oregon vs. 2. Duke

Oregon can win one game because of their shooting efficiency, but their defense will struggle in this one to against a top-notch Blue Devils scoring group.

Pick: 2. Duke Blue Devils

Sweet 16

1. Connecticut vs. 4. UCLA

The Bruins have a top-notch duo and it will take top-notch players to take down UConn, but their group is nowhere near the level of what the Huskies have. Aside from Katie Lou Samuelson, they have Naphessa Collier, Gabby Williams, Nia Nurse, and Saniya Chong starting. All four of them could be starts for almost any other team in the country, including UCLA.

Pick: 1. Connecticut Huskies

3. Maryland vs. 2. Duke

An awesome old ACC rivalry here. Maryland will feel that they should have been the No. 2 seed over Duke, and they are probably right. The Terps one weakness is defense, and that could be an issue in this game, but they are such a better rebounding team than Duke is and that will be the Blue Devils downfall.

Pick: 3. Maryland Terrapins

Elite Eight

1. Connecticut vs. 3. Maryland

These two teams met earlier this year and it was only a six-point game. Maryland has the elite players to compete with the Huskies and though she’s a freshman, Destiny Slocum has been incredible this year. But the Terps defense has been their Achilles Heel. I’ve covered every Terps game this season, including the UConn game, so I’m hopeful for a trip to the Final Four, but looking with complete objectivity, the Huskies continue on.

Pick: 1. Connecticut Huskies.

Oklahoma City Region

First Round

1. Baylor vs. 16. Texas Southern

Texas Southern is represented in both the men’s and women’s tournaments, a tremendous accomplishment for an athletics program, but it’s impossible to think they can upset a team a big, athletic, and as deep as the Baylor Bears.

Pick: 1. Baylor Bears

8. LSU vs. 9. California

It’s offense vs. defense here. LSU struggles to score but they have a very good defense that has allowed only 58.5 points per game. The Cal Bears on the other hand have one of the best scorers in the country is Kristine Anigwe. And after her the Bears have six players averaging at least five points per game. Overall, it’s hard to pick against a player like Anigwe, who is averaging 21.1 points and 9.3 rebounds. She herself is averaging one third of what the entire Tigers team does.

Pick: 9. California Golden Bears

5. Tennessee vs. 12. Dayton

Tennessee beat Notre Dame, South Carolina and Mississippi State this year. They had some losses they shouldn’t have had, but how can you pick against a team that has those sorts of wins? The Voluntees have three players averaging more than 15 points per game. Dayton just doesn’t have the offense to combat that.

Pick: 5. Tennessee Volunteers

4. Louisville vs. 13. Chattanooga

The Mocs have made their fifth-straights NCAA Tournament but they are likely headed for another first round loss. Louisville is averaging 75.2 points per game, 28th in the nation, compared to Chattanooga’s 63.1 points per game, 207th in the nation. Asia Durr is a big time player who has led the Cardinals to big wins over the likes of Kentucky, Syracuse and Miami (FL) this year.

Pick: 4. Louisville Cardinals

6. Oklahoma vs. 11. Gonzaga

Oklahoma is sightly better offensively, though not by much, but the Zags are much better defensively, and not just because of their competition, and a way better rebounding team. The Bulldogs beat Stanford this year because of their defense. It should lead them to a win again.

Pick: 11. Gonzaga Bulldogs

3. Washington vs. 14. Montana State

Kelsey Plum is the most dynamic scorer in the country and carried the Husies all the way to the Elite Eight last season, beating Maryland and Kentucky along the way. This isn’t last year, but that is a scary thing because Washington is even better with Chantel Osahor able to dominate inside both at the rim and on the boards because of the attention Plum demands. Sorry Montana State, 25 wins and your first-ever NCAA tournament appearance is something to be proud of, but not many teams can match up with Plum.

Pick: 3. Washington Huskies

7. DePaul vs. 10 Northern Iowa

The Demon Deacons have a wealth of scorers and have the 10th-ranked offense in the country, averaging 81.2 points per game. They share the ball very well and aren’t bad on the boards either. Northern Iowa doesn’t turn the ball over much, but they don’t do anything too much better than DePaul, which isn’t how teams pull off upsets.

Pick: 7. DePaul Demon Deacons

2. Mississippi State vs. 15. Troy

The Bulldogs are an elite team when it comes to their depth. Not many teams can match up against them. Their top 25 in both offense and defense. Troy, led by a deep and balanced group of scorers, has the eight-ranked scoring offense in the country, but that should be neutralized by the Bulldogs’ athleticism.

Pick: 2. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Second Round

1. Baylor vs. 9. California

Kristine Anigwe might be good for one win, but when she faces a Baylor squad that is loaded with talented scorers, it’s going to be hard for her to put everything on her shoulders.

Pick: 1. Baylor Bears

5. Tennessee vs. 4. Louisville

This should be a tremendous game between two teams that are well accomplished this year, but Tennessee’s defense might doe them in this time. They have allowed 65.9 points per game, ranking 212th in the nation. Louisville has the 28th-ranked offense, averaging 75.2 points per game. Being a better rebounding team also favors the Cardinals since the Volunteers won’t be able to limit possessions to help their defense out.

Pick: 4. Louisville Cardinals

11. Gonzaga vs. 3. Washington

I have to have an upset coming in somewhere soon, but I can’t go against Kelsey Plum. He’s too good and can take over games. She won’t be upset but a team that doesn’t score at an elite level.

Pick: 3. Washington Huskies

7. DePaul vs. 2. Mississippi State

I can’t pick an upset happening here either. This should absolutely be a great game between two teams that have bevvies of scorers, but the size and athleticism of the Bulldogs should carry them out of the opening weekend.

Pick: 2. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Sweet 16

1. Baylor vs. 4. Louisville

Baylor has the second best scoring offense in the country, but they have struggled from the foul line and maybe this is where that plays a factor. Louisville is a tough team with a lot of size so it makes sense that this would be a physical game. But I can’t reach for an upset just to have an upset.

Pick: 1. Baylor Bears

3. Washington vs. 2. Mississippi State

This is an upset I can believe in. Still on he Kelsey Plum wagon here. She’s just ridiculously talented. Mississippi State lost to Tennessee this year when the Volunteers came out and just sprinted out offensively. The Huskies can do that and put that earlier pressure on them.

Pick: 3. Washington Huskies

Elite Eight

1. Baylor vs. 3. Washington Huskies

Why not, I’ll stick with Kelsey Plum. Baylor is a tremendous team with great depth, but the inside out ability of the Huskies is hard for teams to match up with. I keep mentioning Plum and Chantele Osahor, but Natelir Romero and Aarion McDonald do well on the outside too because of the attention they draw. Washington was third in the country in 3-pointers per game and sixth in 3-point shooting percentage. They’ll spread Baylor out.

Pick: 3. Washington Huskies

Lexington Region

First Round

1. Notre Dame vs. 16. Robert Morris

Robert Morris has a top-notch scorer in Anna Niki Stamolamprou, but she won’t be able to carry the load like she has against a great Notre Dame team that has one of the best and more efficient offenses in the country.

Pick: 1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

8. Green Bay vs. 9. Purdue

This game is going to be a slow grinder. Neither team excels at scoring, but the Phoenix really dominate defensively. As they’ve allowed only 50.3 points per game, their defense ranked second in the country. They are a very good rebounding team and they share the ball well on offense. Purdue has picked up some solid wins, but also some horrible losses.

Pick: 8. Green Bay Phoenix

5. Ohio State vs. 12. Western Kentucky

The Hilltoppers have a nice deep group of scorers and had some pretty solid victories on their way to 27 wins this year, but Ohio State has Kelsey Mitchell, one of the best scorers in the country. Ohio State’s defense may be a problem, but their offense that averages 87.1 points per game, this in the nation, will get out of the first round pretty easily.

Pick: 5. Ohio State Buckeyes

4. Kentucky vs. 13. Belmont

Belmont has the 19th best offense in the nation, averaging 19 points per game. They shoot at a high efficiency and are one of the best rebounding teams in the country. That is why they haven’t lost since December 14 and went undefeated in their Ohio Valley Conference schedule. But the success they’ve had was not against a team with as much size and athleticism as Kentucky. This don’t be a cakewalk for the Wildcats, but Evelyn Akhator should do enough on the glass and in the paint to get Kentucky this win.

Pick: 4. Kentucky Wildcats

6. NC State vs. 11. Auburn

NC State haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game in a decade and have only two appearances since then. They’re back this year because of their 3-point shooting. They live from behind the arc and it’s let to impressive wins over Notre Dame, Florida State and Louisville this season. The Tigers have no momentum heading into the tournament, having lost seven of their last nine games. Their inconsistency this year means they could get hot for a game, but NC State is the much safer pick.

Pick: 6. NC State Woldpack

3. Texas vs. 14. Central Arkansas

The Sugar Bears defense is ranked fifth in the nation, allowing only 53.2 points per game, and they do a good job of making smart shots at a high percentage and rebounding, largely for the efforts of Taylor Baudoin and Kierra Jordan inside. Central Arkansas is a prime candidate to pull an upset, but Texas wasn’t a good matchup for them. The Longhorns have stumbled down the stretch, but this is a team that has wins over Tennessee, Baylor and Florida State. The Sugar Bears will struggle to match up against Joyner Holmes.

Pick: 3. Texas Longhorns

7. Kansas State vs. 10. Drake

Drake has a ton of offensive talent that led them to being the seventh-highest scoring team in the country at 83.2 points per game. Lizzy Wendell is the star of the group, but even if a tough Wildcats defense figured out how to slow her down, the Bulldogs have enough other weapons, like Becca Hittner, Caitlin Ingle and Sammie Bachrodt. The Bulldogs can hit shots from outside and rebounds well. Their first tournament appearance in 10 years won’t start out with their first loss since late December.

Pick: 10. Drake Bulldogs

2. Stanford vs. 15. New Mexico State

The Aggies didn’t lose a game in the WAC and went 24-6 this year, but they got stuck with a No. 15 seed against Stanford. The Cardinal have an elite defense and elite athleticism and should role to the win.

Pick: 2. Stanford Cardinal

Second Round

1. Notre Dame vs. 8. Green Bay

The Phoenix’ dominant defense will keep them in this game for an extended period of time, but eventually the impressive offense of the Fighting Irish will take over.

Pick: 1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

5. Ohio State vs. 4. Kentucky

Kentucky’s rebounding has been a problem this year, and they don’t shoot the ball all that well. They won’t be able to afford those kinds of problems against Ohio State. Kelsey Mitchell and the Buckeyes’ deep option of secondary scorers are my pick to move on. Kentucky doesn’t get to enjoy hosting the regionals this year.

Pick: 5. Ohio State Buckeyes

6. NC State vs. 3. Texas

Teams that live and die behind the arc are tough to predict because of their inconsistent nature, but there are reasons to like NC State more than just their outside shooting. They are actually a better defensive team and they aren’t too far behind offensively. Both them and Texas have massive victories this year. Texas beat Tennessee, Baylor and also took down Florida State in a very rare February non-conference game. Their win against the Seminoles was far more impressive. Texas put up 92 points in that game, made over half of their shots and killed them in the paint. That’s good enough to get me behind them in this one.

Pick: 3. Texas Longhorns

10. Drake vs. 2. Stanford

Drake’s depth of scoring options can get them past Kansas State, but getting a win against a team like Stanford will be much tougher. A game is going to have to be slowed down to beat Stanford by limiting their possessions. The fast and high-scoring game that Drake plays works right into the Cardinal’s strength.

Pick: 2. Stanford

Sweet 16

1. Notre Dame vs. 5. Ohio State

Notre Dame has some great guards, but Kelsey Mitchell is the best player in this game. On top of that Note Dame’s defense is an issue and when going up against a player like Mitchell, a struggling defense cannot be afforded.

Pick: 5. Ohio State Buckeyes

3. Texas vs. 2. Stanford

I’m not even particularly high on Texas, but they had two favorable matchups to get to the Sweet 16. Stanford is where they fall. They don’t have the defense to slow them down. Stanford is just too deep and athletic, even for a team like Texas.

Pick: 2. Stanford Cardinal

Elite Eight

5. Ohio State vs. 2. Stanford

I’m willing to take Kelsey Plum to the Final Four, but while Kelsey Mitchell is a great player and scorer, she’s not as dynamic as Plum is. She’ll still have her points, but the elite Cardinal defense will slow the rest of the team down. Stanford moves on to the Final Four.

Stockton Region

First Round

1. South Carolina vs. 16. UNC Ashville

The Experience of the Gamecocks should easily carry them past UNC Asheville in this one. Their offense will be too much for the Bulldogs.

Pick: 1. South Carolina Gamecocks

8. Arizona State vs. 9. Michigan State

Michigan State is going to want to run but Arizona State is going to slow this game down. Spartans guard Tori Jankoska is a dynamic scorer, but with limited possessions and having to go up against the defense of Sophie Brunner and Quinn Bornstauder, she may not be as effective. The superior rebounding of the Sun Devils should also help them advance.

Pick: 8. Arizona State Sun Devils

5. Marquette vs. 12. Quinnipiac

Marquette has some really good scorers, with Allazia Blockton leading the way. Her backcourt mates Natisha Hiedman and Danielle King will be too much for the Bobcats to matchup against.

Pick: 5. Marquette Golden Eagles

4. Miami (FL) vs. 13. Florida Gulf Coast

Senior guards Adrienne Motley and Jessica Thomas as a duo that can lead Miami to some wins in this tournament, but the Hurricanes don’t stand out in any one area. They’re very good, but their offense isn’t overly impressive and they tend to struggle defensively. They also really struggle rebounding the ball and turn the ball over a lot. Florida Gulf Coast will have a great chance to pull off a huge upset against their in-state rival. They’re much better defensively and will make up for their shortcomings with their 3-point shooting. Let’s have some fun and take the Eagles for the big upset.

Pick: 13. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

6. Missouri vs. 11. South Florida

South Florida has a better offense, defense, are better at rebounding and sharing the ball and take care of it better. But the while a good conference, the AAC is still UConn and a bunch of other teams. Missouri went through the grind of the SEC and beat Texas A&M, Kentucky and South Carolina along the way. They can control the pace of the game and they will against the Bulls.

Pick: 6. Missouri Tigers

3. Florida State vs. 14. Western Illinois

Florida State is an incredible veteran team with three seniors and two juniors in their starting lineup and two more juniors coming off the bench first. They have an explosive offense and dominate on the glass. Western Illinois won’t be able to slow them down a little bit.

Pick: 3. Florida State Seminoles

7. Creighton vs. 10. Toledo

It’s been 16 years since the Rockets have been in the NCAA Tournament and this squad isn’t going to want it to end quickly. They’ll be in a slow game against a Creighton squad that wants to control tempo. Creighton used his type of game to tie for the Big Ten regular season title and have a strong 1-2 punch in forward Aubrey Faber and guard Marissa Janning. Toledo isn’t very deep, but they will test the Bluejays defense with a balance scoring attack that has four players averaging double-digits this year. I’ll take the Rockets moving on.

Pick: 10. Toledo Rockets

2. Oregon State vs. 15. Long Beach State

Naismith Player of the Year finalist Sydney Wiese has led the Oregon State Beavers to an unexpected season after they lost Ruth Hamblin to the WNBA. With Wiese dominating from outside, Marie Gulich and Breanna Brown have been able to move around effectively in the paint. That combination should overwhelm Long Beach State.

Pick: 2. Oregon State Beavers

Second Round

1. South Carolina vs. 8. Arizona State

Slowing the game down might work for a win against a team like Michigan State, but to beat South Carolina, a team is going to have to jump on them right away. The Sun Devils don’t have the offense to get up on the Gamecocks like that. A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates will be able to beat the Arizona State interior defense.

Pick: 1. South Carolina Gamecocks

5. Marquette vs. 13. Florida Gulf Coast

Will the Eagles run continue? It would be fun, but Marquette has some really good and deep group of scorers. The Eagles don’t have the depth of athletes defensively to stop them all.

Pick: 5. Marquette Golden Eagles

6. Missouri vs. 3. Florida State

Missouri has some impressive wins this year, but all of them came at home and this game would be a home game for the Seminoles, where they have earned some very impressive victories. Missouri probably doesn’t have the offensive to beat Florida State in this one.

Pick: 3. Florida State Seminoles

10. Toledo vs. 2. Oregon State

Sorry Toledo, the run ends after one win. The Beavers’ defense will be able to lock down on the perimeter to neutralize the Rockets outside shooting.

Pick: 2. Oregon State Beavers

Sweet 16

1. South Carolina vs. 5. Marquette

If South Carolina has a slow start then the Golden Eagles have the kind of offensive firepower that can take advantage, but their defense is a big liability. They’ve allowed 70.3 points per game this year. That isn’t good enough to slow down the Gamecocks.

Pick: 1. South Carolina Gamecocks

3. Florida State vs. 2. Oregon State

It’s offense vs. defense here, but let’s not sell the defense of the Seminoles short either. While Florida State is averaging 80.5 points per game, they’re allowing only 57.9 points per game. Oregon State may be able to slow Florida State down, but they may not have the offense to keep up.

Pick: 3. Florida State Seminoles

Elite Eight

1. South Carolina vs. 3. Florida State

Obviously by being an Elite Eight matchup, this should be a great game that is hard to pick. Maybe the deciding factor will be Florida State’s experience. It’s hard to match a team that has seven upperclassmen in their rotation. But the Gamceocks have five upperclassmen and their top duo of A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates inside is really hard to compete with. Both can take over a game. That inside duo may be the edge they need.

Pick: 1. South Carolina Gamecocks

Final Four

1. Connecticut vs. 3. Washington

As great as Kelsey Plum is, she just doesn’t have enough elite help to take down UConn. I’d like to make a prediction that Washington will lead this game in the second half, but eventually, the Huskies all around talent will lead them to the win.

Pick: 1. Connecticut Huskies

2. Stanford vs. 1. South Carolina

This is an interesting matchup here, but South Carolina has such a strong inside duo with A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates that it is hard to pick against them. The Cardinal are a very, very tough team with great depth and athleticism, but Wilson and Coates will get the Gamecocks to the championship game.

Pick: 1. South Carolina Gamecocks

National Championship Game

1. Connecticut vs. 1. South Carolina

Maybe I’m just being boring, but who in the world wants to pick the Huskies winning-streak to end when the National Championship is on the line? The Huskies just have so much depth and talent, and this was supposed to be a down year for them. But they’re just too good and win their fifth-straight championship.

National Championship Pick: 1. Connecticut Huskies

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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