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Autumn Johnson | December 22, 2021

2022 NCAA women's basketball tournament bracket predictions, less than 3 months to selections

2022 women's NCAA tournament bracket predicted, less than 3 months to selections

Time has flown by since the women's college basketball season tipped off on Nov. 9. Teams are wrapping up non-conference schedules, which means I'm due for my second bracket prediction before we head into the new year.

I created my field of 68 that includes my automatic qualifiers for each conference and then filled in the rest with my at-large bids. I took into consideration what we've seen so far, records, rankings, schedule difficulty, upsets and more.

Here's my bracket in table format:

Autumn Johnson's second 2022 NCAA women's basketball tournament bracket prediction

SEED GREENSBORO Spokane Bridgeport Wichita
1 South Carolina Stanford  Arizona Louisville
16 Ark-Pine Bluff/SC Upstate Wagner  Quinnipiac/Coppin State Coastal Carolina
8 Colorado Missouri State DePaul Kansas 
9 West Virginia Virginia Tech  UCF Arkansas
5 Notre Dame Georgia Tech  BYU  North Carolina
12 Montana UMass  Colorado State Washington State
4 Iowa  Iowa State  Duke Georgia 
13 Kent State Middle Tennessee Towson Murray State
6 LSU Nebraska  Ohio State Kentucky 
11 Oregon/Wake Forest Cleveland State  Missouri/Liberty South Dakota
3 Texas  Tennessee UConn Baylor
14 Bucknell  Tulsa Stony Brook SFA 
7 FGCU  Texas A&M  Ole Miss South Florida
10 Northwestern  Gonzaga Kansas State  Oklahoma
2 NC State  Michigan  Maryland Indiana
15 Princeton  Mercer  Northwestern State Long Beach St. 

South Carolina secures No. 1 seed 

We might be looking at the same, untouchable South Carolina team we saw during the 2019-20 season when the Gamecocks notched a 32-1 record on an impressive 26-game winning streak. Unfortunately, the Gamecocks did not get to see how their postseason fate would play out in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Carolina looks poised to run it back and have proved they belong on the No. 1 overall throne after getting Final Four revenge against defending champion Stanford on Dec. 21, blazing on with a 13-0 record. What's remarkable about this flawless record is the fact that half of its wins comes from top 25 foes. No other team can say that this 2021-22 season. Check out the Gamecocks' resume against ranked opponents below: 

I said this before, and I'll say it again... I don't see South Carolina losing the rest of the way as they head into SEC play. When it's all said and done, I have South Carolina earning its second NCAA title under head coach Dawn Staley. Many would agree with me the way we've seen South Carolina turn it up a level this season with its elite defense, incredible rebounding ability and transition game. 

Stanford, Arizona & Louisville earn No. 1 seeds

Arizona and Louisville are two new teams featured on my No. 1 line since I put out my preseason bracket prediction. The Wildcats, who made a championship run last year, proved they know what it takes to make another deep run. Defense. That's what the Wildcats fuel themselves off of as one of the top-10 scoring defensive teams in the nation. Arizona's lone ranked win comes over Louisville. I would've liked to see what Arizona brought against ranked Texas, but unfortunately that game was canceled due to COVID-19 tracing within the Wildcats' program. When Arizona resumes action, they should be a force against Pac-12 foes.

Speaking of defense, Louisville makes its No. 1 seed debut in my 2022 bracket prediction with its top-3 nationally ranked pressure defense. The Cardinals opened their season with a tough loss (and only loss, so far) against Arizona. Not making excuses for them, but I would credit that to the Cardinals trying to find an identity without WNBA champion Dana Evans. The Cardinals were used to Evans taking over with her clutch performances, but now multiple scorers have stepped up to make up for her offensive scoring load, and adding transfer Emily Engstler has been a game-changer on both ends. Since suffering an upset against Arizona, Louisville has recorded notable ranked wins over Michigan, Kentucky and UConn. 

Stanford has had a few slips this season, like South Carolina in a top-2 matchup. The intensity was high in the Final Four rematch as the Cardinal stuck close with the No. 1 team in the nation, but unfortunately were plagued by foul trouble and turnovers. Despite the recent loss, Stanford has stacked its win column with huge wins over ranked opponents — Indiana, Maryland and Tennessee. This squad is deep and equipped with any player to be the dominant scorer on any given night. 

As you see, Stanford and Arizona are two Pac-12 teams featured in my No. 1 line, but I have the Cardinal as my automatic qualifier winning the Pac-12 title. 

Injuries and early adversity 

I know what you're thinking: "How is Maryland at No. 2 and UConn at No. 3?"  Both teams have been hit with early adversity and a limited bench due to injuries. Maryland was missing its key players Katie Benzan and Faith Masonius for a period of time due to an illness. Plus, Diamond Miller has only played three games this season due to injury. On Dec. 21, Miller played a season-high of 21 minutes against Coppin State and added double-digit scoring for the Terps. Moving forward, that's what Maryland needs. All of its lethal scorers from last year's No. 1 nationally ranked offense to be healthy and active the rest of the way to remain dominant and make a deep run in March. 

As for UConn, the Huskies were hit a plethora of injuries in a short period. National Player of the Year Paige Bueckers is not expected to return until February after suffering a non-contact knee injury against Notre Dame. This is UConn's engine. The depleted backcourt continues with the No. 1 overall recruit Azzi Fudd and Nika Muhl both sitting out with foot injuries. Keep in mind Aubrey Griffin — another key scorer for the Huskies — has not suit up in the front court this season due to an injury as well. Yet, we've seen the Big 3 seniors come together to lead the charge and even freshman Caroline Ducharme has stepped up with breakout games. 

UNDEFEATED: Here are the remaining undefeated teams in the 2021-22 season

Last four in 

  1. Oregon
  2. Missouri
  3. Liberty 
  4. Wake Forest

First four out 

  1. Alabama
  2. Syracuse 
  3. Utah 
  4. Purdue 

In case you missed it, here is a link to my preseason bracket of this season.

The automatic qualifiers

Here are my 32 AQs, based off of who I think will lock in spots by everlasting foes in each respective conference tournament. 

Conference Automatic qualifier
America East Stony Brook
American Athletic Tulsa
Atlantic 10 UMass
ACC Louisville
Big 12 Baylor
Big East UConn
Big Sky Montana
Big South South Carolina Upstate
Big Ten Maryland
Big West Long Beach State
Colonial Athletic Association Towson
Conference USA Middle Tennessee
Horizon  Cleveland State
Ivy Princeton
MAAC Quinnipiac 
MAC  Kent State
MEAC Coppin State 
Missouri Valley Missouri State
Mountain West Colorado State
Northeast Wagner
Ohio Valley Murray State
Pac-12 Stanford
Patriot Bucknell
SEC South Carolina
Southern Mercer 
Southland Northwestern State
SWAC Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Summit League South Dakota 
Sun Belt  Coastal Carolina
West Coast  BYU
Western Athletic Conference SFA

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