Friday marks the dawn of the 2015 Women’s NCAA Tournament, as 64 teams begin their quest to reach the Final Four and claim a National Championship. The Spokane regional was the last quarter of the bracket to be revealed, and with it came a full slate of exciting matchups.
Here’s everything you need to know before tip-off. Let the March Madness begin!
1. Maryland (30-2, 18-0 Big Ten) vs. 16. New Mexico State (22-7, 13-1 WAC)
Reigning national champion Connecticut may be the team to be in this year's edition of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, but there are plenty of top-caliber challengers waiting along the way with one of the toughest paths to the Final Four passing through the Oklahoma City Regional. Notre Dame, the region's No. 1 seed, will host the first two rounds before heading south to Oklahoma, where the Irish will likely have to get past a cast of familiar characters, including second-seeded Baylor and either Stanford, the four-seed, or Oklahoma, the five-seed, to earn a trip to Tampa Bay.
New Mexico State has vaulted back on to the national basketball stage this spring, in a big way.
They won the Western Athletic Conference Championship earlier this month, for the first time in program history, after going 13-1 in league play and 22-7 overall. That put them into the NCAA Tournament, after a 27-year absence.
With conference tournaments now all in the record books, there's nothing left for this year's NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament aspirants to do but wait and hope. Many of those teams identified in this series as locks or "on the bubble" over the past few weeks removed any remaining uncertainty by winning their tournaments and nailing down the automatic bid for their respective conferences. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of deserving teams from the mid-major conferences won out and can breathe easy as they watch tonight's Selection Show.
DALLAS – Baylor used a strong second half to pull away from Texas in a 75-64 victory that clinched the school’s seventh overall and fifth consecutive Big 12 Conference Women's Basketball Tournament championship.
The Lady Bears led, 40-35, after a first half in which Texas answered every Baylor run. Baylor made sure that did not happen in the second half.
Imani Wright got the Bears going after the break with a jumper in the paint, but Texas guard Ariel Atkins buried a 3-pointer to slice the lead to four, but that was as close as it got.
UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- News Flash: To no one's great surprise, the University of Connecticut won the 2015 American Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament, its second tournament title in the two years of the new league's existence, on Monday evening in Uncasville, Conn. Equally unsurprising was the double-digit differential in the final score: The top-seeded Huskies defeated the University of South Florida, the tournament's No. 2-seed, by a significant, 84-70, margin, just as it has all but one of its opponents this season.
DALLAS – There might be some confusion as to which role forward Nneka Enemkpali will have for the Longhorns when Texas meets Baylor Monday night in the title game of the 2015 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at the American Airlines Center.
To say Maryland is enjoying its new Big Ten confines might be an understatement, as they completed an undefeated conference run with a Big Ten tournament championship Sunday evening with a 77-74 win over Ohio State.
In a typical Pac-12 season, it has generally made little sense to think that any team other than Stanford would win the conference’s tournament. Last year, the latest in a long line of formidable Cardinal teams – one good enough to make the Final Four – got knocked out in the semifinals by USC. Everything you thought you knew about the Pac-12 was shattered.
This year, for the first time in a long time, a Pac-12 women’s tournament began with Stanford being part of the pack, not the clear leader. Everything you thought you knew about the Pac-12 was again dashed to pieces.