By: Samantha Olang
Starting on March 23rd, the NCAA women’s basketball tournament will begin. The bracket starts off with Syracuse and Creighton at Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tennessee at 11:00 am. Also playing at 11 will be Central Michigan and Oklahoma at St. John Arena, Columbus, Ohio. The tournament will start at 11:00 am and go till 7:30 pm; the first round will consist of 16 games.
Baylor, Connecticut, Notre Dame, and Stanford all earned number 1 spots when announcing the field, Monday night. This will be the first time ever that the top four are the same for consecutive seasons. In the final Associated Press poll, the top six teams only had two losses outside of each other. This has been the fewest by far since the 1994-95 seasons. Saturday will be the first step in route to the Final Four; this will begin April 7 in New Orleans.
Coach Kim Mulkey from Baylor hopes to make it to the Final Four with her Lady Bears. Mulkey will try to become the fourth different school to win consecutive national championships, joining Southern California, UConn, and Tennessee. The Lady Bears (32-1) will open Sunday night at home against Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament champion Prairie View (17-14). Top ranked Baylor will have the same matchup she had two years ago. If they keep advancing, as well as the other top seeds for the rest of the tournament, the Lady Bears could have a familiar feeling as last year when they were undefeated. Their tournament was capped off of the NCAA’s as the first 40 wins for the season. Quoted by Coach Mulkey,” I hadn’t even thought about it,” “No matter who you play, you are probably going to be able to compare years and teams and times that you played each other. Hadn’t thought about it.”
Baylor is in the Oklahoma City Regional where the Number 2 seed is Tennessee from the SEC, which the Lady Bears beat in a regional final last March. All number one seeds are the same as last year. Other teams are Connecticut, Notre Dame and Stanford, these are the only teams to beat the Lady Bears this season before their 30 game winning streak. Lady Bears are on the same side of the bracket as Spokane Regionals, which puts Stanford as the number one seed. Determining if this could be the same NCAA Final Four matchup in the national semifinals as last year ago.
Only time will tell which team takes first, the tournament will be shown on channels CBS, TNT, ESPN, TRU TV and TBS.