Stanford, Va. Tech earn women's tourney 1 seeds

8 months ago 2

8:39 PM ET

  • Alexa PhilippouESPN


    • Covers women's college basketball and the WNBA
    • Previously covered UConn and the WNBA Connecticut Sun for the Hartford Courant
    • Stanford graduate and Baltimore native with further experience at the Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times and Cincinnati Enquirer

The Stanford Cardinal and Virginia Tech Hokies earned the highly-contested final two No. 1 seeds in the 2023 NCAA women's basketball tournament, the bracket for which was revealed exclusively on ESPN as part of Selection Sunday.

On the No. 1 seed line, the Pac-12 regular season co-champion Cardinal and the ACC tournament champion Hokies join the Big Ten regular season champion Indiana Hoosiers, as well as the top overall seed: the undefeated, defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks.

With reigning national player of the year Aliyah Boston leading the way, South Carolina -- which hasn't lost a game in over a calendar year -- is six wins away from becoming the fourth program to repeat as national champions (joining UConn, Tennessee and USC) as well as the fifth to complete an undefeated season (alongside UConn, Tennessee, Texas and Baylor).

The final two slots on the 1-line were considered fairly open heading into Selection Sunday; according to ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme, the Iowa Hawkeyes and UConn Huskies also had cases for securing those spots following strong play to prevail in the Big Ten and Big East tournaments, respectively.

Powered by national player of the year contender Caitlin Clark, Iowa seeks to advance to the program's first Final Four since 1993 (then coached by the legendary C. Vivian Stringer). UConn, which fell in the title game to South Carolina last season, is on a quest to play in a record-15th consecutive Final Four and win the school's 12th national championship, which would be its first since 2016.

Iowa and UConn now end up on the No. 2 seed line, along with the Maryland Terrapins and the Utah Utes, with Maryland appearing in South Carolina's quadrant, Iowa in Stanford's, Utah in Indiana's and UConn in Virginia Tech's. Virginia Tech -- one of the hottest teams in the country as winners of 11 straight games -- has never advanced past the Sweet 16, which it last played in in 1999.

— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) March 13, 2023

The Cardinal, which have been to two consecutive Final Fours, are looking to win a fourth national title and second in three years after clinching the 2021 championship in the San Antonio "bubble." Despite losing two of their last three games, Stanford's body of work featured a 9-3 record against the NET top 25 and 15 wins over the NET top 50.

The Hokies and the Hawkeyes were both awarded for their recent quality play, each moving up a seed line since the NCAA women's basketball committee's last early reveal on Feb. 23.

Considered a lock as a No. 1 alongside the Gamecocks, the Hoosiers are hoping to build upon the program history they established the past two tournaments, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2021 for the first time while making the Sweet 16 the year after.

The other teams that will host first and second round competition are the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Duke Blue Devils, Ohio State Buckeyes, LSU Tigers (all 3 seeds), in addition to the UCLA Bruins, Villanova Wildcats, Texas Longhorns and Tennessee Lady Vols (all 4 seeds). The Buckeyes, Bruins, Wildcats, Longhorns and Lady Vols all fell in their respective conference tournament finals.

The last four teams out were Columbia, Kansas, UMass and Oregon, according to the NCAA.

UCLA and Tennessee -- which upset Stanford and LSU, respectively, in their league tournaments -- were among the biggest risers since the last early reveal, replacing the Michigan Wolverines and Arizona Wildcats in the top-16. Meanwhile LSU fell from the No. 2 line to the 3-line, and Utah from a 1-seed to a 2-seed, after bowing out early in conference tournament play.

The 2023 tournament will feature two regionals, replacing the previous four-site format, with Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games occurring March 24-27 in Greenville, S.C. and Seattle. The regionals will be called Greenville 1, Greenville 2, Seattle 3 and Seattle 4.

For the second year, the women's tournament will include 68 teams, with First Four games to be held Wednesday and Thursday at campus host sites. Those matchups are: Sacred Heart vs. Southern (both 16 seeds), Tennessee Tech vs. Monmouth (both 16 seeds), Illinois vs. Mississippi State (both 11 seeds), and Purdue vs. St. John's (both 11 seeds).

First-round competition will take place Friday and Saturday with second-round games proceeding Sunday and Monday. The Final Four will be held at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on March 31 (national semifinals) and April 2 (national championship game).

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