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Autumn Johnson | November 6, 2021

NCAA women's basketball tournament predictions, from the Sweet 16 to the national championship

Women’s NCAA tournament predictions, from the Sweet 16 to the national championship

Before we tip-off the 2021-22 women's college basketball season on Tuesday, Nov. 9, I'm going to share my Sweet 16 predictions and my pick to be the national champion in Minnesota.

I put my predictions in chart format, in order to show you the depth each conference might hold in the Sweet 16: 

Autumn Johnson's 2022 Sweet 16 picks
ACC Big Ten SEC Pac-12 Big 12 Big East Missouri Valley
NC State Maryland South Carolina Stanford Baylor UConn Missouri State
Louisville  Iowa Tennessee Oregon Iowa State    
Georgia Tech Indiana Kentucky        
  Michigan          
Oregon vs Stanford

With the majority of these programs returning all of their key starters, it's a no-brainer (to me) that these teams will be featured in the Sweet 16 when the madness heats up in March. Almost all teams made it to the Sweet 16 in last year's NCAA tournament. Iowa State and Kentucky were both sent home in the second round a season ago. 

The ACC had the most representation in the 2021 NCAA tournament with eight programs making the field. Both the SEC and Big Ten trailed behind with seven. Despite the heavy load of each conference, the Big Ten was the only conference that had four teams represented in the Sweet 16 last year. I see a repeat brewing in March. 

Michigan vs Maryland

No surprise in the Big East, with UConn predicted to advance to the Sweet 16, but do not sleep on Missouri State. The Bears are looking to make a third straight Sweet 16 appearance this season. The 2021 national champs Stanford sent them home last season. Bringing back their top scorers and Brice Calip and Jasmine Franklin will put this squad back in great position for the three-peat or even further.

Final Four to 2022 National Championship 

Out of my Sweet 16 picks, here are the four teams I have going to the Final Four:

  • South Carolina
  • Stanford
  • UConn
  • Maryland 
South Carolina celebration

For the national title game, I have South Carolina battling UConn, with the Gamecocks hoisting the national championship. Why? For starters South Carolina will being back its Final Four squad, who only fell to the eventual champs by one point. This team has been set to win another national title since 2019 as the No. 1 team in the country, but the cancellation of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic ended its hopes of seeing how their destiny would play out in the NCAA tournament. 

But here's my main reason South Carolina will hoist the national championship trophy: an offseason treasure securing 2021 ACC Freshman of the Year and Co-Defender of the Year — 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso from Syracuse. What a perfect addition in the paint to join forces with Aliyah Boston, who leads the nation in rebounds and is one of the top shot-blockers in the country. Once you add its fast-pace offense with its backcourt — Zia Cooke, Destanni Henderson and Brea Beal to add scoring around them ... good luck.

But it doesn't end there with this deep team. The No. 1 recruiting class in the nation will be hosted by South Carolina once again! Raven Johnson, Saniya Rivers, Sania Feagin and Aubryanna Hall will create endless rotations and combos for head coach Dawn Staley. This young squad is well equipped to bring home South Carolina's second national championship.

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