Typically, there aren’t as many bracket-busting early-round upsets in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament compared to the men’s. But don’t be mistaken: Not all of the high seeds are safe.
With that being said, here are three teams we think have the potential to run through a team or two during the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
No. 11 Princeton Tigers vs. No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats
The Tigers are ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll, but were clearly underseeded by the selection committee. They enter the tournament on a 17-game winning streak after rolling through the Ivy League, and only one game during that streak was decided by fewer than 12 points. Armed with a stifling defense and guard Abby Meyers, who’s averaging nearly 18 points per game, Princeton will give the Wildcats all they can handle.
No. 12 Belmont Bruins vs. No. 5 Oregon Ducks
Conversely, the committee seemed to do the Bruins a bit of a favor; Belmont will play its first-round game in Knoxville, Tenn., just a few hours from its campus. Will a possible home-court advantage help spur them to an upset victory? The Ducks have been a .500 team since early February and may struggle to score about the Bruins’ top-20 defense. Guard Destinee Wells leads Belmont’s offense with 16.5 points per game, and guard Tuti Jones has hit nearly 40 percent of her 3-pointers this season.
No. 12 Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks vs. No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels
Here’s another sleeper that wins most of all through its defense. Stephen F. Austin ranks fifth in points allowed per 100 possessions. It creates almost 12 steals per game and gives up just 55.9 points on average The Ladyjacks have lost just once since mid-December and are guided by two seniors — Stephanie Visscher and Aiyana Johnson — who are pouring in around 14 points per night. Those two will undoubtedly carry a feeling of unfinished business into this year’s tournament after they squandered a 17-point halftime lead over fifth-seeded Georgia Tech in a first-round loss last season.