NCAAW March Madness



Sam Bernstein

A prediction of what could have been a narrative and competitive filled March



Unfortunately, the 2019-2020 women's NCAA basketball tournament was cancelled before Selection Sunday, so there is no bracket to make picks off of. For that reason, we will evaluate who would have won and what teams and narratives had the potential go far in the tournament.


Winner of the Tournament: Oregon Ducks





Google Images


“Unfinished business.” That statement refers to the Ducks’ senior point guard Sabrina Ionescu’s reasoning for returning to Oregon for her senior season. A year prior, Ionescu and the Ducks lost a tough final four game to Baylor, who ultimately took home the trophy. Ionescu’s determination to make it back to the finals and cut the nets, coupled with the fact that she is arguably the most dominant women's college basketball player of all time, maybe even the greatest college basketball player ever (as she is the only college player to achieve 2000 points, 1000 rebounds, and 1000 assists, and has the record for the most triple-doubles in college basketball history), translates to success for Oregon. Just look at Oregon’s record: 2 losses during the season, both of which were nail-biters. While Ionescu’s “unfinished business” will stay unfinished, at least she will graduate campus with a 2020 Pac-12 title, defeating Stanford with ease.


Final Four: South Carolina


Both AP Top 25 and Coaches’ Poll number one pick, South Carolina is an overall strong team. With only one loss early in their season, the Gamecocks showed their strength in their dominant physical play from guards and posts alike. While the Gamecocks are statistically weak in their three-point percentage of about 35%, their 8.5 blocks per game and 82 points per game makes them a clear contender for the championship.


Final Four: Baylor





Google Images


The reigning March Madness champs have the strength to venture far in the tournament. Similar to South Carolina, Baylor is not known for three-pointers; however, the Bears are dominant in the paint: with a field goal percentage of 50% and two dominant bigs in the frontcourt, Baylor had all the right pieces to potentially continue their reign of March. If they had met up with Oregon, it would have been a game similar to last year–––Baylor dominating the paint and Oregon relying on guard play and shooting from deep. Ultimately, the Ducks would have won this neck to neck rematch by pure grit and determination.


Deep Threats:


Maryland


Coming off of a 17-game win streak including winning the Big Ten conference, Maryland was ready for the big dance. With Big Ten freshman of the year Ashley Owusu chipping in a light 17 points and 11 assists in the conference tournament finals, the Terrapins have the momentum and manpower they needed to not only get an automatic bid into the tournament, but also to make it far.


UConn


UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma is the third most successful coach in women's college basketball history with 11 national championships. Despite his success and respect as a coach, this year UConn struggled and accumulated 3 losses on the season (Oregon, Baylor, and South Carolina). Auriemma would lead UConn deep into the tournament, but when it comes to the top teams in the nation, UConn would have succumbed to the more talented teams, something the Huskies rarely encounter.


Louisville


With only three freshmen, Louisville carried a strong but mature lineup. This maturity and skill had manifested itself into a successful season: taking down Oregon early, and only four total losses on the season – one of which occurred against Team USA. Louisville would make it far with their talented roster, but ultimately would not be able to compete against the top caliber teams because the Cardinals lack consistency in their depth when it comes to competing against top opponents.


Northwestern


Northwestern ended this year ranking 11th in the nation despite an early exit from the Big Ten tournament. The Wildcats have both a Big Ten unanimous first-team guard Lindsay Pullman and the Big Ten defensive player of the year guard Veronica Burton, not to mention Coach of the Year Joe McKeown. The Wildcats had four losses on the season, however all four of the teams they beat in other matchups. This team would beat any opponent less than their level, but when they become the underdogs, their lack of consistency could have resulted in a big win or disappointing loss.


Honorable Mention - Princeton


Princeton ranked 17th in the Coaches Poll, and 22nd in the AP Top 25 poll. Their run is impressive, as it is rare that an Ivy is this dominant, especially with a new head coach. They had a shot to advance far in the tournament and were even predicted to be a fifth or sixth seed.