The NCAA women’s basketball bracket 2011 is set to narrow down further. Today, eight of the last 16 women’s basketball teams will face off, as the bracket moves into the Sweet 16. The next stage of the NCAA tournament resumes in Dayton, where the Tennessee Volunteers look to return to the Final Four, and in Spokane, where Stanford tries to stay a heavy favorite.
Tennessee’s last game was a surprising scare at home against Marquette, although the Volunteers ultimately survived. They hope to have it easier in today’s first regional semifinal, against Ohio State at noon est. After the men suffered a heartbreak upset loss last night to Kentucky, the lady Buckeyes hope to balance it out with a massive upset of their own.
If the Volunteers survive, as expected, they will next face either Notre Dame or Oklahoma. The Irish and Sooners meet sometime after 2 pm, with Oklahoma as the closest thing to a Cinderella in the region, after the sixth seeds upset No. 3 Miami to get here.
There are plenty of Cinderellas in the Spokane region, however, as it is the only part of the bracket that’s been busted. Yet there is still one overwhelming favorite in Stanford, as the top seeds only have to deal with No. 5 North Carolina, and either No. 7 Louisville or No. 11 Gonzaga.
Women’s basketball is unique, in that in their tournament, teams can play games on their very own home court. This has benefited Gonzaga, as they’ve won two games against higher seeds on their home floor. Now they get to stay there for the regionals as well, as they host Louisville at 9 pm est.
The Bulldogs are by far the lowest seed left in the NCAA tournament, yet they’ve still gotten to play in friendly territory throughout. But if they advance to the Elite Eight, a friendly crowd may not do that much good against Stanford. Yet the Cardinal have to reach the regional final first, with North Carolina standing in the way at around 11:30 pm est.
The bracket traditionally has no room for Cinderellas, and this year would appear to be no exception. Many would be shocked if the Final Four isn’t made up of Connecticut, Tennessee, Baylor and Stanford, since they’ve towered over the sport all year.
The Volunteers’ scare against Marquette may motivate them to do some fine tuning, which is bad news for the Buckeyes, Irish and Sooners. As for Stanford, nothing has suggested that they are vulnerable yet, especially since they seemingly have the weakest competition yet in their region. Of course, they could have to play a quasi road game against Gonzaga to reach the Final Four.
The male tournament underwent many new twists and turns in their Sweet 16 this week. Today will help decide if the women’s basketball bracket will become as unstable, or if convention will rule yet again. The first three games air on ESPN, before Stanford and North Carolina play on ESPN 2.
ESPN- “NCAA Basketball Bracket – 2011”