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Gary Putnik | | March 24, 2022

5 questions that will be answered in the women's Sweet 16

Autumn Johnson makes her revised March Madness predictions

The Sweet 16 tips off Friday night. The first two rounds already provided extremely entertaining games from start to finish and the Sweet 16 is expected to take it to the next level. This year’s Sweet 16 features rematches from the regular season, Cinderella stories and more. 

Here are five questions that will be answered in this year’s Sweet 16. 

1. Can Maryland’s offense keep it going against No. 1 Stanford?

No. 4 Maryland has been one of the hottest offensive teams in the nation this season, and the Terrapins continued it in the tournament with 191 combined points in the first two rounds. Diamond Miller and Ashley Owusu have been the driving force with over 20 points apiece in each game. 

LIVE UPDATES: Click here to follow the entire tournament from start to finish

Maryland is actually the highest-ranked team in scoring offense left in this year’s tournament averaging 79.2 points per game.

They’ll be going up against one of the best teams in No. 1 Stanford, who beat the Terps back in November. That time, Maryland was without Miller, but Owusu still managed to get 30 points. Regardless of who is out there for Cardinal, this stout lineup features four double-digit scorers and hasn’t allowed 70 or more since January when it beat Cal 97-74.

2. Will NC State get its revenge against Notre Dame?

Another rematch in the Sweet 16 comes from two ACC teams. This time the No. 1 seed was on the losing side of the previous matchup. No. 4 Notre Dame handed No. 1 NC State its third and most recent loss in February. 

Since that game, Notre Dame and NC State went different routes to end up in this spot. The Irish finished out the regular season and ACC tournament at 5-4 with two losses to unranked opponents. Notre Dame has looked solid in its first two tournament games scoring 89 against UMass and 108 against Oklahoma. 

NC State used the loss to Notre Dame as fuel to get out to a 12-game win streak and win the ACC tournament. The Wolfpack trounced their first two opponents of the NCAA tournament, 96-68 and 89-57. 

3. Is Aliyah Boston going to keep her streak of double-doubles alive?

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston has been the most dominant player in the nation this season. She has racked up 26 consecutive double-doubles since November. 

She’ll have to bounce back in this round. Boston had one of her worst offensive performances of the season against Miami, shooting 4-15 from the field, but she still picked up 16 rebounds. 

The Gamecocks will face No. 5 North Carolina in the Sweet 16, and the Tar Heels have struggled against teams with great post players. UNC also hasn’t had the best record against top-25 teams this season, going 2-5. 

4. Will the Cinderella runs continue for No. 10 seeds Creighton and South Dakota?

The last time two No. 10 seeds advanced to the Sweet 16 in the same year was 2016. This time, Creighton and South Dakota are crashing the party. 

BRACKET: Here's the 2022 women's basketball tournament bracket

Both teams pulled off shocking second-round upsets. Creighton took down No. 2 Iowa and South Dakota ended No. 2 Baylor’s Sweet 16 streak that lasted 12 years. 

Creighton will face No. 3 Iowa State in the Sweet 16. Both teams throw up a lot of threes and have attempted over 800 this season. The Blue Jays will have to lock down Iowa State’s Ashley Jones to give themselves a chance to move on. 

South Dakota also puts up a lot of deep shots, but their opponent, No. 3 Michigan, doesn’t. The Coyotes will have to defend Naismith Women’s Player of the Year Finalist Naz Hillmon, who scored all of her 27 second-round points from inside 10 feet. 

5. Can UConn preserve its Elite Eight streak?

No. 2 UConn hasn’t missed an Elite Eight since 2005. That streak will be on the line once again, this time No. 3 Indiana stands in the way, looking to start an Elite Eight streak of its own after making it there last season.

Both teams didn’t have their best games in the second round. UConn shot 29% and beat No. 7 UCF 52-47 and Indiana escaped No. 11 Princeton with a 56-55 win. 

So far this season, UConn’s go-to players have been Christyn Williams and Azzi Fudd. The two combine for an average of 28.2 points per game. With Paige Bueckers working back up to a larger workload, she too can continue to make the impact that was expected before her injury. 

Indiana will look to last game’s hero Grace Berger. She has led the team in points this season (522) and has been a rock for the Hoosiers in the past three seasons. 

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