The DI women's basketball selection committee announced its third and final Top 16 reveal of the 2021-22 season.
Tons of changes since the second reveal was released earlier this month, so here are my four takeaways after analyzing the latest reveal:
IOWA IS HOT AND ON THE RISE
The Hawkeyes are back in the conversation, making their debut as a potential four-seed in the March Madness tournament. Originally, I predicted Iowa as a three-seed in my preseason bracket prediction. Unfortunately, adversity struck the Hawkeyes early this season and overshadowed who this team could be in March.
Iowa started off hot with a 4-0 start, but Covid-19 hit the program and canceled its Cancun Challenge tournament during Thanksgiving. Straight out of the pause, Iowa went through a rollercoaster ride, getting upsets in between wins by Duke, Iowa State and IUPUI. This took a squad that came into the season as the No. 9 team in the nation, plummeting towards the bottom of the Top-25.
RELATED: Committee touts South Carolina, Stanford, NC State and Louisville as top seeds in final reveal
The Hawkeyes made a late surge down the stretch of Big Ten play, defeating Indiana back-to-back and handling Michigan in a blowout game, giving them its first Top-25 wins in just one month. These are two teams that were considered on the two-line in the second reveal. The late effort of Iowa earned the program a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 2008. Keep an eye out for the Hawkeyes and its elite star Caitlin Clark, who is currently leading the entire nation in points and assists.
THE KIM MULKEY EFFECT
How about LSU muscling its way from a four to a two seed! That's a credit to the Kim Mulkey Effect, turning this program around in her first year as a head coach for this program and her talented veteran team. Recently, LSU clinched the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament over Tennessee. The Tigers finished inside the top two in the conference for the first time since 2008.
The selection committee must have been impressed with its 6-1 record over Top-25 foes! I mean who wouldn't? The loss to South Carolina was only decided by six points. Currently, LSU has a Net Ranking of 16. This is a team to fear in March.
TEAMS THAT HAVE QUESTION MARKS
We all eyed a few teams that we did not expect to be in the third reveal - Indiana and Tennessee, who both lost their main star.
Indiana hit a huge bump in the road after losing its lead scorer and rebounder Mackenzie Holmes. The Hoosiers lost four of their last five games to close out its Big Ten regular-season schedule. As for Tennessee, things started to go down heel when they fell to Auburn on Jan. 27. Since then the Vols picked up five losses in February alone and lost its dynamic scorer Jordan Horston. This is a team that was once considered a one-seed in the initial Top 16 reveal.
Currently sitting on my five-line in my bracket prediction I have North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State and BYU all sitting on the five-line eyeing the four seed. There's still a chance to sneak into that four-line with these two vulnerable four seeds in its way.
NO. 1 SEEDS ARE SOLID
South Carolina, Stanford, NC State and Louisville remain strong on the one line. Every team except Louisville, who replaced Tennessee in the second reveal, has been a top seed in all three reveals.
The Gamecocks are the clear No. 1 overall seed with only one slip up in its 2021-22 schedule. Despite the loss against Missouri, South Carolina has stayed atop of the pack the entire season as the No. 1 team in the nation...and there was no question about it! The Gamecocks finished the regular season11-0 against top-25 foes, No. 1 in the AP and the NET, No. 1 in blocked shots, No. 3 in rebounds and are the No. 4 scoring defense in the nation. I don't see anyone stopping this team in March.
No. 1 team in the country.— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 27, 2022
SEC regular season champs.
No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament.@GamecockWBB pic.twitter.com/ftLfins4lZ
Stanford kept a flawless 16-0 record in the Pac-12, which marked its eighth perfect record in program history. However, both NC State and Louisville had some minor blemishes. Louisville picked up its second conference loss to North Carolina and NC State was stunned by Notre Dame. Despite the upsets, these two squads hold impressive resumes. Both the Wolfpack and Cards ended their regular seasons with an 8-3 record over ranked opponents.