If the previous few weekends of convention championships signified something, it was how a lot Madness might be packed into this March. We had been blessed with buzzer-beaters, upsets, and an countless quantity of Master Class performances. From Rhyne Howard and Kentucky’s upset win over South Carolina within the SEC Championship to Miami’s historic run within the ACC Tournament, there’s quite a bit to preview, and SLAM’s acquired you lined.
There are a number of new adjustments this time round, although:
For the primary time for the reason that match’s inception in 1982, the NCAA has determined to characteristic the historic March Madness branding for the 2022 match, whereas the elevated 68-team pool might be seeded for the primary time this Selection Sunday on March 13.
The first 4 video games of the match will happen on Wednesday and Thursday of this week whereas the primary and second rounds start on Friday and run by way of subsequent Monday the twenty first.
The Heavy Hitters
This yr’s No. 1 Seeds: South Carolina, Stanford, NC State and Louisville are stacked to the brim with expertise, as we take a deep dive into how the heavy hitters acquired to the primary spherical of the match.
Led Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks (29-2) are outfitted with an array of expertise, together with the frontrunner for National Player of the Year, Aliyah Boston. The Gamecocks will make their 18th nationwide match look since ’82 by way of the Greensboro Region. Throughout the 2021-22 season, the Gamecocks have remained favorites to chop down the nets in Minneapolis. Despite struggling solely their second loss (29-2) on the season to Kentucky within the SEC match closing, South Carolina leads the nation with 11 wins over ranked opponents, dealing with off in opposition to the winner between Howard (20-3) and the Incarnate Word Cardinals (13-16).
The Stanford Cardinal (28-3) cruised their approach to their second-straight Pac-12 championship with wins over Oregon St., Colorado, and Utah, behind the match’s Player of the Year in Haley Jones. With 6-4 convention Defensive Player of the Year and the Pac-12’s main rebounder Cameron Brink commanding the paint, the Cardinal are coming off of a 20-game win streak heading into the Spokane Region. First, although, they’ll must maintain enterprise in opposition to No. 16 Montana (22-12).
The ACC has been one of many strongest conferences top-to-bottom this season—boasting eight groups from the convention making the large dance—as each NC State and Louisville spherical out our heavy hitters. The Wolf Pack added to what’s already been a historic season after securing the No. 1 seed within the ACC match for the primary time in 32 years. Led by first-team All-ACC middle Elissa Cunane, NC State makes their twenty seventh nationwide match look.
This checklist is nowhere close to wanting star-power, and that’s the place Hailey Van Lith and Louisville (25-4) spherical out our heavy hitters. Finishing second behind NC State within the ACC, the Cardinals are set to make their first nationwide match look since 2019. They’re set to match up in opposition to No. 16 Albany (23-9) within the first spherical.
Best Not Be Sleeping
They might not be the highest-seeded groups, however you simply can’t be caught sleeping on the subject of Kentucky, Miami, DePaul, and the Michigan Wolverines.
Coming off of the stellar play of All-SEC First Team ahead Rhyne Howard and standout Dre’una Edwards, the Kentucky Wildcats upset the No. 1 seed South Carolina Gamecocks in historic style for the SEC Championship, this system’s first since 1982. Riding a 10-game win streak into the Bridgeport area, the No. 6 Wildcats had a sub .500 file lower than a month in the past, and but, they’ll enter the primary spherical of the match with presumably probably the most momentum within the match. But first, they’ll must undergo Princeton (24-4) to maintain on dancing.
The Canes have been synonymous with upsets throughout March, beautiful Louisville within the ACC quarterfinals courtesy of Destiny Harden’s buzzer-beating turn-around jumper and Notre Dame within the semis. The No. 8 Miami Hurricanes (20-12) arrive within the Greensboro area after advancing to this system’s first-ever ACC Championship recreation.
The No. 3 Wolverines (22-6) enter the fold within the Wichita area with a first-round matchup in opposition to the No. 14 seeded American Eagles (23-8). Their resume consists of high quality wins over Baylor in late December—this system’s first win over a top-five crew—Maryland in January and Iowa in early February. Led by projected top-five choose within the 2022 WNBA Draft, Naz Hillmon, the Wolverines might be trying to make historical past as soon as extra in March.
While they completed fourth within the Big East, the Blue Demons earned high quality wins over Kentucky and Northwestern. Led by double-double machine Aneesah Morrow, the convention’s Freshman of the Year, DePaul (22-10) will match up in opposition to No. 11 Dayton.
Games You Can’t Miss
After all 68 groups had been seeded on Selection Sunday, the opening spherical matchups are set. Here’s some video games that you simply’ve acquired to tune into this weekend.
Photos by way of Getty Images.