Road to NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Is a Two-Horse Race
When March Madness kicked off last week, the nation was in a basketball craze. Between Thursday and Sunday there was rarely a moment when an NCAA Tournament game wasn’t on TV, and the games were electrifying. But it wasn’t just men — the women’s NCAA Tournament started on Saturday, too. Sure, there aren’t millions of brackets submitted for the women’s games and there certainly wasn’t a billion-dollar challenge for making the perfect women’s tournament bracket, but that doesn’t mean anything less is at stake.
The goal of raising a title banner and cutting down the nets in early April is the same for the women as the men. But the game’s parity is where the two differ. Whereas the men’s tournament has exemplified a field of teams in which anybody can beat anybody — evidenced by the flurry of upsets in the first two rounds — the women fall on the other side of the spectrum. There have been upsets, don’t get me wrong, but they’ve been few and far between.
Twelfth-seeded BYU is the only double-digit seed to advance to the Sweet 16 in the women’s tournament. And the favorites to keep advancing are easy: Notre Dame and Connecticut. Both of these teams completed the regular season with an undefeated record and had their way with their first- and second-round opponents. As the top overall seeds in the tournament, this is somewhat expected … except that the Fighting Irish and Huskies are miles ahead of the rest of the field.
And this disparity isn’t a recent trend. Some teams have come and gone as top contenders in the nation — Texas A&M won the national championship in 2011, while Baylor and Brittney Griner won it in 2012 — but Notre Dame and UConn have always remained fixtures come the postseason.