Chalk dominates Day 1 as SEC goes 5-0

Chalk dominated nearly all of opening day of the 2023 ladies’s NCAA match, with the SEC shining brightest because of a 5-0 document on Friday.

No. 1 general seed South Carolina dealt with Norfolk State, pulling inside 5 wins of an undefeated season and back-to-back nationwide titles, whereas 3-seed LSU took care of enterprise versus Hawaii.

What was much less apparent heading into March was how the middle-of-the-pack SEC groups would fare. However No. 8 seed Ole Miss, Tenth-seeded Georgia and 11-seed Mississippi State — which turned the primary First 4 workforce to make it to the second spherical — all superior.

It has been a harder week for the ACC, as three star gamers — Florida State’s Ta’Niya Latson, NC State’s Diamond Johnson and Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles — had been dominated out both for your complete match or, in Johnson’s case, the weekend. Notre Dame did not have a lot bother routing Southern Utah 82-56, however Tenth-seeded Princeton beat 7-seed NC State on Grace Stone’s go-ahead 3-pointer with lower than 5 seconds remaining.

Even the “upsets” weren’t surprises. No. 10 seed Georgia taking down Florida State was conceivable, if not predictable, given Latson’s harm. Similar with NC State’s loss sans Johnson. No. 9 seed South Dakota State bested No. 8 USC 62-57 in extra time, however it was an 8-9 matchup. Most gorgeous was 6-seed Creighton’s loss to the Bulldogs after their Elite Eight run final 12 months. Might Mississippi State, which performs powerful protection and may produce each inside-out, assume the position by upsetting the Irish on Sunday?

ESPN’s Alexa Philippou, Charlie Creme and M.A. Voepel break down the highlights from the primary spherical and take a look at what to anticipate throughout the remainder of the early-round video games.

Give us your greatest overreaction primarily based on at some point of video games.



Brinae Alexander delivers from deep for Maryland

Brinae Alexander delivers from deep for Maryland

Creme: No. 2 seed Maryland will likely be an actual risk to South Carolina in Greenville if Brinae Alexander can shoot like she did towards Holy Cross. The Terrapins made 9 3-pointers and scored 93 factors Friday. Alexander shot 4-for-7 on 3s. Her improved manufacturing has been a big a part of Maryland’s high-level play within the later a part of the season. Within the Terps’ final six video games, the Vanderbilt switch made 18 of 36 makes an attempt from past the arc, and he or she’s capturing 44.3% there for the season. She led Maryland with 18 factors off the bench towards the Crusaders in an environment friendly 25 minutes.

The Gamecocks do not have a lot vulnerability, however a workforce with a number of deep threats can, not less than partially, neutralize their protection — even one nearly as good as South Carolina’s. Alexander, Abby Meyers, Lavender Briggs and Shyanne Sellers may simply give Maryland the shooters to tug an Elite Eight shock.

Philippou: LSU, a workforce that has already caught loads of flack for its straightforward nonconference schedule, is in bother if everybody round Angel Reese comes out as flat as they did versus Hawaii and if the Tigers do not rebound higher (40-33). Reese was dominant (34 factors, 15 rebounds), however LSU shot 1-for-14 from the arc, and Alexis Morris went 3-for-10 from the sphere. The trail will get far more troublesome for the Tigers from right here on out with Michigan up subsequent after the Wolverines managed a giant win over UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in what was thought-about a attainable upset recreation — after which probably a workforce like high-octane Utah within the Candy 16.

Voepel: Possibly the SEC could have two groups within the Ultimate 4. We have all been choosing South Carolina to go to Dallas principally for the reason that nationwide championship recreation ended final 12 months. A lot was product of the SEC not being nearly as good as traditional this season, apart from the Gamecocks. However the SEC went 5-0 on Friday, together with the upsets by Georgia and Mississippi State — even when neither of these outcomes was actually a shock. Saturday, No. 4 Tennessee and No. 10 Alabama will attempt to preserve the SEC good within the first spherical.

What or who shocked you probably the most in Friday’s video games?

Creme: Maybe the largest shock of the day was that there weren’t any true surprises. It was on the opening day of the primary spherical precisely 364 days in the past that No. 10 seed Creighton knocked off No. 7 Colorado, 12-seed Florida Gulf Coast beat No. 5 Virginia Tech and No. 10 seed South Dakota upset No. 7 Ole Miss. These had been actually surprising. Even when a decrease seed gained Friday, like Mississippi State or Georgia, it wasn’t thought-about an upset. The Bulldogs had been the betting favourite.

Alissa Pili’s 33-point, eight-rebound efficiency wasn’t a shock, however the Utah star’s eight assists raised an eyebrow (she averaged 2.1 heading into the match). Utah assisted on 32 of its 37 subject objectives within the 26-point win over Gardner-Webb.



Grace Stone, Princeton come up large late to upset NC State

Grace Stone hits a go-ahead 3-pointer late within the recreation, then Princeton prevents NC State from getting a closing shot off in a 64-63 win.

Philippou: I did not anticipate Gonzaga to lose, not to mention so badly, to Ole Miss (71-48), however credit score the Rebels’ protection. The Bulldogs went 1-for-17 from 3 regardless of coming into the match with a 41.5% clip from the arc, greatest within the nation.

And whereas I predicted the Tigers to beat NC State, the Wolfpack appeared in management many of the recreation. So I did not suppose it could finish that manner, with Carla Berube’s squad clawing again from being down two possessions early within the fourth and holding NC State scoreless for the ultimate 5:44 of the sport. Credit score the Tigers for his or her grit and resilience, one thing we noticed with how they rebounded from their 0-2 Ivy League begin and even in how they rallied from a deficit to just about knock off UConn in December. The Utes’ high-powered offense will likely be a tall job for the defensive-focused Princeton, however it’ll be an enchanting matchup nonetheless.

Voepel: No. 1 seed Virginia Tech gained, however two-time ACC participant of the 12 months Elizabeth Kitley took simply six pictures in a 58-33 victory over No. 16 Chattanooga. Kitley completed with 12 factors, however as traditional, cleaned up on the boards with 14. Within the Hokies’ second-round recreation towards No. 9 South Dakota State Jackrabbits, they’re prone to want extra touches for his or her star middle. On a optimistic notice, it seems the Hokies’ Taylor Soule, who left Friday’s recreation, was affected by muscle cramps and is prone to play Sunday.

What are you most wanting ahead to seeing Saturday?

Creme: Maryland (93 factors) and Iowa (95) did their half, however with No. 1 seeds South Carolina and Virginia Tech scoring nicely beneath their averages, this match may use an injection of factors. No. 11 seed Center Tennessee (vs. 6-seed Colorado, 7 p.m. ET on ESPNews) and 12-seed FGCU (vs. 5-seed Washington State, 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU), who every run a variety offense and transfer the ball, could possibly be the upsets and spark that we did not see in Friday’s video games. If the match continues to carry chalk prefer it did largely on Day 1, the second spherical will likely be full of heavyweights, however I am doubting Saturday will go so carefully to kind.

Philippou: How 5-seed Washington State reveals up after its Cinderella run within the Pac-12 match will likely be attention-grabbing. As Virginia Tech realized in final 12 months’s NCAA match, FGCU is a tricky first-round matchup, however Kamie Ethridge’s Cougars are keen to point out their 4 wins in 5 days within the Pac-12 tourney weren’t a fluke. They’re going to have to convey a standout defensive efficiency towards a workforce that shoots extra 3s than anybody else within the nation (and makes loads of them). Charlisse Leger-Walker has been a star out west for years and has gone beneath the radar. Bella Murekatete additionally had a stellar run within the Pac-12 match, scoring not less than 19 factors towards Utah and UCLA. Now, each gamers will likely be on nationwide tv — towards some of the profitable mid-majors within the sport.

Voepel: I am to see how the Large 12 will do with 5 of its six groups within the match enjoying Saturday. West Virginia had been the league’s first workforce to play, shedding Friday to Arizona. Just one Large 12 workforce is internet hosting: No. 4 Texas should not have an excessive amount of bother with No. 13 East Carolina.

The opposite 4 matchups could possibly be attention-grabbing: No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 Portland, and No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Miami are each a distinction of types. However, No. 5 Iowa State (276 3-pointers) are considerably just like No. 12 Toledo (209). And No. 7 Baylor, which faces No. 10 Alabama, have been up and down this season. We are going to see which model of Baylor seems Saturday.

Mississippi State over 6-seed Creighton was a well-liked upset choose. What did you want in regards to the Bulldogs’ first-round win — and the way will they check Notre Dame?



Jordan says MS State relishes NCAA underdog position

After her 20 factors and 4 steals contribute to a 81-66 upset of 6-seed Creighton within the NCAA Match, JerKaila Jordan says Mississippi State isn’t finished.

Philippou: No. 11 seed Mississippi State was a robust 3-point capturing workforce coming into the match; its 35.2% accuracy ranks thirty sixth within the nation. However the Bulldogs picked the correct recreation to completely go off from 3, as Friday’s 11 treys tied their season excessive. And whereas Jessika Carter went off towards Illinois (22 factors, 9 rebounds) within the First 4, Mississippi State did not have to depend on her or paint scoring as a lot towards Creighton. The Bulldogs additionally received it finished on the defensive finish, irritating the Bluejays and forcing them to take troublesome pictures (Creighton completed 26.5% from the arc). If Mississippi State can translate that defensive disruption into Sunday, it could possibly be a headache for a Notre Dame workforce with out its place to begin guard. The Irish have been a fairly good defensive unit, they usually’ll be tasked with ensuring the Bulldogs don’t remain scorching from 3. However Sam Purcell’s squad might be efficient within the paint as nicely through Carter and with its guards getting downhill.

Creme: I underestimated Jessika Carter’s measurement and influence in each of Mississippi State’s NCAA match wins. The 6-foot-5 senior has 36 factors and 19 rebounds mixed. What stands out much more in regards to the Bulldogs success this week was that Carter wasn’t even Mississippi State’s greatest participant on Friday; junior JerKaila Jordan was. Carter’s measurement modifications video games, however it’s not important for the Bulldogs to win.

Their athleticism shined towards Creighton and will bother the Irish. Notre Dame’s backcourt is depleted with out Olivia Miles and Dara Mabrey. Bulldogs coach Sam Purcell goes to have the ability to run Jordan, Anastasia Hayes, Ahlana Smith, Debreasha Powe, Asianae Johnson and Kourtney Weber in a rotation that would put on down Notre Dame’s Sonia Citron and KK Bransford. That group mixed to make 11 of 19 3-pointers towards Creighton and, whereas higher than regular, it was no fluke; Mississippi State was fourth within the SEC in 3-point accuracy this season. If these guards get to the rim with their athleticism and shoot it nicely from deep, and Carter has some affect inside towards Maddy Westbeld and Lauren Ebo, we may get a consequence that we are able to categorize as a real upset.

This feels acquainted: Iowa hosts a 10-seed on its house court docket within the second spherical. What do you anticipate when the Hawkeyes face Georgia on Sunday?



Caitlin Clark drops 26 factors and dishes 12 assists in first-round win

Caitlin Clark will get her 2023 match off to an incredible begin as she scores 26 factors and provides out 12 assists in Iowa’s dominant first-round win.

Voepel: It is eerie how comparable the circumstances are to final 12 months. Friday, No. 2 seed Iowa gained its March Insanity opener by 52 factors, this system’s largest margin of victory in an NCAA match recreation, with Caitlin Clark scoring 26 factors. That adopted No. 10 seed Georgia beating No. 7 Florida State at Carver-Hawkeye Enviornment.

Final 12 months, the Hawkeyes had been additionally a No. 2 seed, gained their opener by 40, then confronted the No. 10 seed, which had upset No. 7. That did not go nicely for Iowa, which misplaced 64-62 to Creighton. Iowa doesn’t desire a repeat.

Georgia is a tricky opponent, for various causes than Creighton was. The 2022 Bluejays shot a ton of 3-pointers. Georgia was final within the SEC in 3s; the Bulldogs have 113 this 12 months to Iowa’s 293. Consequently, the zone the Hawkeyes used so successfully towards SE Louisiana on Friday could possibly be large towards Georgia, too.

However the Bulldogs have measurement, depth and protection: They’ve held foes to 58.6 PPG this season. Iowa, which has averaged a Division I-best 87.8 PPG, needs a high-scoring recreation Sunday. Each Clark and teammate Monika Czinano stated Friday the Hawkeyes will discuss as a workforce about final 12 months and what went flawed within the second spherical, though this will likely be a really totally different matchup.

“Not even so much about the X’s and O’s, but more how dialed in we have to be for every game,” Czinano stated. “The coaches don’t even have to say it. We all know.”