Women's NCAA tournament selection reveal: South Carolina easy pick for No. 1 overall seed, followed by Indiana, UConn, Stanford
South Carolina needed no discussion as the overall No. 1 seed in the women's NCAA selection committee's first of two top-16 reveals as announced on ESPN on Thursday night.
The Gamecocks (24-0, 11-0 SEC) are reigning champions and in line to become only the fourth program in NCAA Division I championship history to repeat. They'll face No. 3-ranked LSU (23-0, 11-0 SEC), currently a 2-seed and the No. 5 overall team in the reveal, on Sunday in a meeting of the final two undefeated teams.
The rest of the 1-seed teams are Indiana, which defeated 2-seed Iowa for the Big Ten lead earlier Thursday; UConn, which gave South Carolina a game Sunday, but fell to Marquette this week; and Stanford.
The top-16 teams host first- and second-round games at their campuses. They are, in order: South Carolina, Indiana, Stanford, UConn, LSU, Utah, Iowa, Duke, Maryland, Notre Dame, Michigan, Texas, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Villanova and Ohio State.
In a format change, there will be two regional sites rather than four. The Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games are Greenville, South Carolina, at Bon Secours Arena, and in Seattle at Climate Pledge Arena. The Final Four will be held March 31 and April 2 in Dallas. The next reveal is Feb. 23 during halftime of South Carolina vs. Tennessee. Selection Sunday is March 12 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Greenville Regional 1
1. South Carolina
4. Ohio State
Greenville Regional 2
3. Notre Dame
Seattle Regional 3
4. Virginia Tech
Seattle Regional 4
4. North Carolina
Takeaways from first NCAA reveal
The most controversial choice is LSU on the 2-seed line, a move not unexpected, but still irksome to fans outside Louisiana. The Tigers remain undefeated, but have played one of the weakest schedules in the nation and haven't been tested as expected in the SEC.
The committee does not use the quadrant system to rank teams, but for comparison's sake, LSU had played only four games against teams in the equivalent of quad 1 heading into the week. It is the fewest games of any team in the top 30. South Carolina is 9-0 in quad 1 games, UConn is 10-3, Stanford is 9-3, Indiana is 7-1 and Utah is 6-4. The only AP-ranked team LSU has played is Arkansas, which has since fallen out of the Top 25. The Tigers have struggled over the recent weeks against Tennessee, Georgia and Texas A&M.
Iowa currently has the best chances of moving into a 1-seed line, particularly if Stanford stumbles again against a team it shouldn't. The Cardinal lost to Washington for the first time in program history over the weekend, joining an early oddball loss to USC. Iowa's only eyebrow-raising losses are arguably Kansas State and NC State. It also took losses to a tough Indiana team as well as UConn and Indiana, both higher seeds.
Utah (20-2, 9-2 Pac-12) has been the most surprising of the bunch this season. It is one win away from tying its 2022-23 total of 21 wins. The Big Ten has five teams in the top 16 and the ACC has four.