CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, girls’s school basketball, and different school sports activities for espnW. Voepel started overlaying girls’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.
UConn had no bother within the Albany Regional final season. The Huskies have been undefeated going into the 2018 match and, as a No. 1 seed, routed St. Francis 140-52 within the first spherical.
As they enter this 12 months’s girls’s NCAA match, they’ve two losses and a No. 2 seed. Plus Louisville, this 12 months’s prime seed in Albany, beat UConn in the course of the common season.
However the Huskies’ Napheesa Collier has had an excellent season, and fellow senior star Katie Lou Samuelson is scheduled to return for Saturday’s first-round recreation towards Towson (ESPN2/ESPN3, 6;30 p.m. ET) after lacking 4 video games, together with the AAC match, with a again damage.
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Asia Durr (21.three PPG), the two-time ACC participant of the 12 months, leads Louisville. However the Cardinals will not have coach Jeff Walz for the first-round recreation towards Robert Morris; he is suspended after language used towards NCAA committee members and employees throughout final 12 months’s nationwide semifinals.
The Cardinals, who tip off the match Friday towards Robert Morris (ESPN2/ESPN3, midday ET), count on to be at full well being, excellent news after guard Arica Carter missed the entire ACC ultimate and ahead Sam Fuehring suffered an damage throughout that recreation.
That, sadly, is just not the case for No. 5 seed Gonzaga, which shall be with out injured guards Laura Stockton and Jill Townsend, because it meets No. 12 Little Rock on Saturday (ESPN2/ESPN3, three:30 p.m. ET).
No. four seed Oregon State shall be wanting to get again to motion after a surprising upset loss to Washington within the Pac-12 match. The Beavers play one of many final video games of the primary spherical, tipping off towards Boise State at 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday (ESPN2/ESPN3).
The Albany Regional was unanimously tabbed the toughest area in a vote of espnW specialists when the bracket was launched on Monday.
Three gamers to look at
Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA: The 6-foot ahead confirmed promise as a freshman, however has turn out to be one of many Pac-12’s most dynamic gamers as a sophomore, averaging 18.2 factors and eight.1 rebounds.
The favorites, the Cinderellas and the groups to keep away from when filling out your bracket.
Notre Dame and Stanford are favorites to achieve the regional semis. However do not count on the remainder of the chalk to carry on this high-scoring area.
As soon as so self-conscious about her top she hid in her room, 6-foot-7 Teaira McCowan is lastly comfortable within the highlight for Mississippi State.
Cierra Dillard, Buffalo: The 5-9 senior guard led the Bulls to the Candy 16 final 12 months. That shall be a harder process this season, as 10th-seeded Buffalo faces No. 7 seed Rutgers within the first spherical after which nearly actually would meet UConn within the second. Dillard is second in Division I in scoring (25.2 PPG) and helped Buffalo win the Mid-American Convention match title this season.
Kayla Goth, Kansas State: A 6-1 senior guard, she is sixth in Division I in assists per recreation (6.9) whereas additionally averaging 12.6 factors. The No. 9 seed Wildcats gained eight of their previous 11 video games, with the one losses to prime general NCAA seed Baylor (twice) and one other NCAA match crew, Iowa State.
Finest first-round recreation
No. 6 UCLA vs. No. 11 Tennessee (ESPN2/ESPN3, 1 p.m. ET Saturday): The Girl Vols barely made it into the sphere, but nobody can be shocked to see them play effectively within the NCAA match. There isn’t any lack of expertise for Tennessee, however the Girl Vols have been inconsistent. In contrast, the Bruins took some time to jell after commencement losses, however they performed effectively down the stretch, together with an additional time loss to Oregon within the Pac-12 semifinals. Tennessee misplaced within the NCAA second spherical final 12 months, whereas UCLA fell within the Elite Eight.
Michaela Onyenwere and UCLA face 11th-seeded Tennessee of their opener Saturday. David Dennis/Icon Sportswire
Finest potential second-round recreation
No. three Maryland vs. No. 6 UCLA: If the Bruins get previous Tennessee, they will face Large Ten regular-season champion Maryland. The Terps misplaced within the league match ultimate to Iowa, however they’ve one of many prime juniors within the nation in Kaila Charles, plus standout freshmen Shakira Austin and Taylor Mikesell.
Picks to achieve the Candy 16
(1) Louisville, (2) UConn, (three) Maryland, (four) Oregon State