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Autumn Johnson | January 27, 2021

The 2021 NCAA women's basketball bracket, predicted just past the halfway mark of the season

The 2021 NCAA women's basketball bracket, predicted just past the halfway mark of the season

We are a little past the midway mark of the 2020-21 women's college basketball season and about a month and a half from Selection Monday. That's as good a time as any to make and break down my second predictions for the 2021 NCAA DI women's basketball tournament bracket. 

We'll get to see the NCAA bracket for real when it's revealed during the tournament selection show at 7 p.m. Eastern on Monday, March 15, on ESPN.

These are my predictions only and are based on action I've seen through Jan. 25, remaining schedules, top players and intangibles. The tournament will work a little differently this year because of the pandemic. You can read the latest from the NCAA here.

Here are my latest predictions (click or tap here to open a larger version of the bracket):

The 2021 NCAA bracket, predicted by Autumn Johnson.

Here's my bracket in table form:

Autumn Johnson's second 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament bracket
SEED Region 1 region 2 region 3  region 4 
1 Louisville  UConn NC State South Carolina
16 Arkansas State Wofford High Point St. Francis (Pa.) 
8 Alabama Georgia Tech Missouri State South Dakota
9 Florida State FGCU UCF Michigan State
5 DePaul Gonzaga Georgia Ohio State
12 Delaware  Bucknell Milwaukee SFA 
4 Arkansas South Florida Indiana Oregon
13 Dayton Long Beach State Colorado State Wake Forest 
6 Northwestern West Virginia Mississippi State Tennessee
11 Oklahoma State Rice Iowa Marquette
3 Kentucky Michigan  Arizona Stanford
14 California Baptist Marist UT Martin Maine
7 Arizona State Texas Syracuse Iowa State
10 Notre Dame South Dakota St.  Washington State Nebraska
2 Texas A&M  Baylor Maryland UCLA
15 Alabama State North Carolina A&T Kent State Idaho State

Louisville, NC State, South Carolina and UConn are my No. 1 seeds

Three out of four of my No. 1 seeds are undefeated right now — Louisville, NC State and UConn. Louisville is No. 1 in the AP Top 25 and boasts a versatile squad with four Cardinals averaging in double digits, led by All-America guard Dana Evans. NC State also has a dominant offensive force with four players in double figures. The postponed ACC matchup between Louisville and NC State would have given us a preview of who the No. 1 team is — instead we'll have to wait until Feb. 1 to find out when those teams meet at 7 p.m. in Louisville.

UConn has cruised through the Big East, including a victory over No. 19 DePaul (who I have as a five seed). The Huskies hadn't trailed against a team all season until their first scare against No. 25 Tennessee, but prevailed over the Lady Vols.

South Carolina, on the other hand, has one loss on its record after falling to NC State earlier this season. No other team has came in their way since then and they have ranked wins against top-25 opponents Gonzaga, Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas. 

Of course, these top seeds could change before we get to March. Stanford, for example, would have been in this mix but the back-to-back upsets to Colorado and UCLA dropped the Cardinal to my No. 3 seed. 

A QUICK GUIDE: 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament dates, schedule

Texas A&M, Baylor, Maryland and UCLA are my No. 2 seeds — which features two Big 12 teams. I have Baylor taking home the Big 12 title in March and Maryland doing the same in the Big Ten. As for Texas A&M, the Aggies went on an undefeated streak until LSU snapped their winning run at 13-0. Despite the loss, Texas A&M has faced a tough schedule and have defeated six ranked opponents so far. The Bruins have looked strong and upset Oregon and Stanford in the Pac-12.

Last four in 

  1. Marquette
  2. Iowa
  3. Oklahoma State
  4. Wake Forest

First four out 

Let's go a little beyond the field of 64 to make some predictions on the bubble for the tournament. 

  1. North Carolina
  2. Clemson 
  3. Rutgers 
  4. IUPUI

My automatic qualifiers

Conference Automatic qualifier
America East Maine
American Athletic South Florida
Atlantic 10 Dayton
ACC Louisville
ASUN Florida Gulf Coast
Big 12 Baylor
Big East UConn
Big Sky Idaho State
Big South High Point
Big Ten Maryland
Big West Long Beach State
Colonial Athletic Association Delaware
Conference USA Rice
Horizon  Milwaukee
Ivy  Will not player winter season*
MAAC Marist
Mid-American Kent State
MEAC North Carolina A&T
Missouri Valley Missouri State
Mountain West Colorado State
Northeast St. Frances (Pa.)
Ohio Valley UT Martin
Pac 12 Stanford
Patriot Bucknell
SEC South Carolina
Southern Wofford
Southland Stephen F. Austin
SWAC Alabama State
Summit League South Dakota State
Sun Belt  Arkansas State
West Coast  Gonzaga
Western Athletic Conference California Baptist

*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.

My preseason bracket can be found here. I'll make one more prediction before the NCAA women's basketball tournament begins.

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