One day stands between the anticipation of women's basketball and the Nov. 25 tip off. I'm here with my way-early predictions for the 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament bracket. I based these predictions on what I saw last season, top returners, transfers, preseason conference favorites and more.
Here is my first bracket for this season. I'll revisit these all season long and make additional, revised picks several more times before we get to March Madness.
And here's my bracket in table format:
|16||Jackson State||Mount St. Mary's||UT Martin||Bethune-Cookman|
|8||Kansas State||Marquette||Tennessee||North Carolina|
|9||Southern California||Arizona State||Duke||LSU|
|5||Notre Dame||DePaul||Northwestern||Oregon State|
|12||Bucknell||James Madison||Central Michigan||Boston College|
|4||Iowa State||Texas A&M||Arkansas||Maryland|
|13||SFA||Utah Valley||South Dakota||Fresno State|
|6||Gonzaga||Missouri State||Ohio State||Syracuse|
|11||South Florida||FGCU||Mercer||Middle Tennessee|
|7||South Dakota||Texas||Florida State||Michigan|
|10||West Virginia||Virginia Tech||Georgia||Rutgers|
|2||NC State||Arizona||Louisville||Mississippi State|
South Carolina, UConn, Stanford and Baylor are my No. 1 seeds
These are my picks right now for the top seeds. All teams brought back an experienced core and three finished in the AP poll's top four last season — all except Stanford, which finished No. 7.
The Cardinal are expected to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, and that's credit to bringing back a team with depth. However, South Carolina can say the same. Aaliyah Boston, Zia Cooke and Brea Beal were a key part of the Gamecocks' success in securing the SEC title while holding a 26-game winning streak. Naismith Coach of the Year Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks will look to continue that momentum entering the 2020-21 season.
As for UConn, the Huskies brought in a top recruiting class of six newcomers, including the No. 1 recruit in the country Paige Bueckers. They will join the Huskies' Big 3 — Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Evina Westbrook. Once the Huskies find chemistry, this will be a tough team to beat that will dance their way to the Final Four.
Baylor's success in March will be determined in part by whether or not Naismith Defensive Player of the Year DiDi Richards returns to the starting lineup after a spinal cord injury suffered in a scary practice collision with Moon Ursin. NaLyssa Smith, Queen Egbo and Stanford graduate transfer DiJonai Carrington will all be looked at to step up in Richards' absence.
NC State, Arizona, Louisville and Mississippi State are my No. 2 seeds. Two ACC teams are featured in this group, but I believe Louisville will secure the conference title over NC State. Mississippi State on the other hand, will give South Carolina its biggest challenge in the SEC.
Last four in
- Virginia Tech
- West Virginia
- Boston College
First four out
I go a little beyond the field of 64 to make some predictions on the bubble for the 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament.
- Georgia Tech
- Texas Tech
|American Athletic||South Florida|
|ASUN||Florida Gulf Coast|
|Big West||UC Davis|
|Colonial Athletic Association||James Madison|
|Conference USA||Middle Tennessee|
|Ivy||Will not player winter season*|
|Missouri Valley||Missouri State|
|Mountain West||Fresno State|
|Northeast||Mount St. Mary's|
|Ohio Valley||UT Martin|
|Southland||Stephen F. Austin|
|Summitt League||South Dakota|
|Western Athletic Conference||Utah Valley|
*The Ivy League announced it would not player winter sports earlier this season. I added an extra at-large bid to make up the field of 64.