Women's NCAA Tournament: Watchability rankings for Sweet 16 games
After a few days to recover from the mayhem, it's back at it in the women's NCAA Tournament.
Think you know who's going to make it to Dallas? Unless you foresaw eighth-seeded Ole Miss knocking off top-seeded Stanford or, even wackier, ninth-seeded Miami upsetting No. 1 Indiana when it hadn't lost a home game all season, you probably could use a few pointers.
We're here to help.
Here's a list of the Sweet 16 games ranked by watchability.
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 2 Utah
Time/TV: Friday, 5 p.m., ESPN
This game features two of the best bigs in the game in Utah's Alissa Pili and LSU's Angel Reese. Their teams are still playing largely because of these two, who can – and do – single-handedly dismantle an opponent.
Pili scored 33 points in the first round and had a double-double against Princeton in the second. Reese had a double-double in both games and was so dominant against Michigan in the second round she had double figures in both offensive and defensive rebounds.
What also makes this game intriguing is the contrasting styles. LSU makes a living off its defense – duh, its coach is Kim Mulkey – while Utah runs one of the country's most efficient offenses. Something is going to have to give.
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No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 1 Virginia Tech
Time/TV: Saturday, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2
Virginia Tech aspires to be what Tennessee was. So does Tennessee.
This is only the second trip to the Sweet 16, and first since 1999, for the Hokies, who are trying to establish themselves as one of the nation's top programs. Winning the ACC tournament and getting a No. 1 seed helped, but if they want to keep themselves in the conversation next season and the season after that and the season after that, they need to keep winning.
The Elite Eight used to be such a given for Tennessee it was practically a part of its schedule. But the Lady Vols haven't gotten that far since 2016. This is really the first team that's looked to have the potential of the Tennessee teams of old, and its performances in the first two rounds reminded people why they were a trendy Final Four pick in the preseason.
No. 6 Colorado vs. No. 2 Iowa
Time/TV: Friday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
OK, Caitlin Clark, what you got?
Clark is the country's best offensive player, and she's near impossible to stop. Best you can hope is to somewhat contain her and not allow Monika Czinano to go off. If both are on their games, well, good luck with that.
There were some who thought Iowa was done wrong by the selection committee, getting a No. 2 seed after winning the Big Ten tournament while Stanford and Indiana, losers in the semifinals of their conference tournaments, were seeded No. 1. Now Stanford and Indiana are sitting home, and Clark and the Hawkeyes have a chance to prove the doubters wrong.
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 UConn
Time/TV: Saturday, 4 p.m., ABC
The temptation is to say no one stands a chance against UConn now that the Huskies have Azzi Fudd back. But Ohio State's Jacy Sheldon is finally healthy and she, too, makes her team a heck of a lot better.
Kevin McGuff might not be Geno Auriemma's equal as far as Xs and Os go, but he's not far off. But Ohio State had a tendency in the first two rounds to get sloppy, and UConn will eat mistakes like that for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 1 South Carolina
Time/TV: Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN
There were five teams that got within double digits of South Carolina this season, and UCLA was one of them. More over, Charisma Osborne scored 24 off the Gamecocks. You know Dawn Staley had words with her team about that.
Still, there is no team in the country that can match South Carolina for its depth. Its starting lineup – "freshies" Aliyah Boston, Brea Beale and Zia Cooke, and Victaria Saxton and Kierra Fletcher – is overwhelming enough, and then you bring Kamilla Cardoso, Laeticia Amihere and Bree Hall off the bench. That's just not a fair fight.
No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 5 Louisville
Time/TV: Friday, 10 p.m., ESPN
Raise your hand if you predicted this matchup. Now put it down because there's no way you did.
Ole Miss flew under the radar this season because the SEC was so stacked. A quarter of the Sweet 16 teams are from the SEC, just sayin'. But there were signs of how good the Rebels are. They were one of two teams to take South Carolina to overtime, and they just beat the other, top-seeded Stanford, to get to the Sweet 16.
Louisville was, to put it nicely, a hot mess for much of the season. It fell out of the Top 25 before Christmas and never returned. It lost back-to-back games twice. But the Cardinals figured things out just as coach Jeff Walz promised they would, and they now look more like the team that made the Final Four last year than whatever they were earlier this season.
Because both teams have exceeded expectations, look for both to play loose. Which should make for a fun game.
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Maryland
Time/TV: Saturday, 11:30 a.m., ESPN
Notre Dame has done an admirable job just getting here after losing Dara Mabrey in January and Olivia Miles in the regular-season finale. But Maryland's defense is a meat grinder, and the Irish might not have enough bodies to withstand it.
No. 9 Miami vs. No. 4 Villanova
Time/TV: Friday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
This is another matchup few saw coming. Had Miami not upset Indiana, the question would have been how far superstar and scoring machine Maddy Siegrist could carry Villanova. But now it's whether Miami can find an answer for her.
Don't discount the Hurricanes just yet, though. This is a team that came back from 17 down in the first round, then calmly responded when Indiana drilled a 3 to tie the game with less than seven seconds to play.
And no, we're not going to make the cheap pun about why Miami is still playing. That happened enough Monday night.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Women's March Madness: Ranking Sweet 16 games by watchability