The tournament is here and if one thing is clear after Day 1, it’s that the top seeds are not here to mess around. UConn put a 110 piece on tournament-newcomers Towson while Mississippi State dropped 103 points on Southern.
In a day of mostly chalk results that saw only a few upsets—looking at you, Clemson, Buffalo and Indiana—we received plenty of close games and even a couple that went to overtime. So without further ado, let’s jump into the events of the day and see what we have to look forward to this weekend.
Points of Interest
So, do you think UConn is just a little bit amped up after getting a No. 2 seed? Getting Katie Lou Samuelson back was always going to make this team look nearly unstoppable—especially in a first-round game against Towson—but the Huskies didn’t have to go and drop 110 points on them.
Like, you knew they were feeling it when they got Geno Auriemma to dance on camera, but the Huskies look downright scary after being pipped to the No. 1 seed in the Albany region. Is there anything Buffalo can do to stop them? We’ll see on Sunday.
Speaking of the No. 1 seed in the Albany region, Louisville looked pretty convincing itself, as Sam Fuehring made a convincing return to the lineup and looked quite dangerous as both she and Asia Durr dropped 19 points to lead the Cardinals to a 35-point win over Robert Morris. The team was without coach Jeff Waltz, who was suspended after complaining about officiating in Louisville’s Final Four loss last season, but Waltz found a solid spot to catch the game.
U of L Women beat Robert Morris 69-34!! I’m sure Coach Jeff Walz was happy. He watched the game at Sidebar, across the street (Walz was suspended for complaining about officiating during the team's 2018 Final Four overtime loss) @WHAS11 pic.twitter.com/KrWcP2F0Ex— Tyler Emery (@TylerWHAS11) March 22, 2019
If Fuehring looks this good as the tournament goes on and the Cardinals can reintegrate Arica Carter into the lineup when she’s fully healthy, we could be looking at a potentially explosive Elite Eight matchup between them and the Huskies.
Iowa fans, it’s safe to exhale now. Mercer put quite a scare into the No. 2 seed but the Hawkeyes were able to close out the game for a five-point win. Megan Gustafson was up to her usual high-scoring heroics with 30 points while Mackenzie Meyer and Hannah Stewart chipped in 16 and 12, respectively.
That win dovetailed nicely with No. 7 seeded Missouri’s pulse-pounding 77-76 overtime win over No. 10 seeded Drake. It looked like the Tigers were headed home after Sophie Cunningham and Cierra Porter both fouled out in overtime and Drake came out firing from three. But Missouri held on and, thanks to Jordan Roundtree firing up a prayer of a three-pointer and drawing a foul that gave her three foul shots with just over a second left, Mizzou moved on.
Now those two teams will play in what will likely be a high-energy affair that will feature plenty of perimeter shooting and two players in Cunningham and Gustafson that could potentially go in the first round of the WNBA draft in April.
Best Thing I Saw
Since I already mentioned the Huskies dancing video above, I’ll leave you with this perfect moment from the Oregon-Portland State game after Sabrine Ionescu got hit with a technical for shooting a three when Oti Gildon accidentally passed it to her while Ionescu was on the bench. Don’t blame Sabrina, shooters shoot.
Games to Watch
For the sake of this, we will acknowledge here that, of course, you should watch the No. 1 seeds dominate *cough* take on the competition, but we’ll focus on some potentially closer matchups here.
The Lady Vols remained the only school to play in the tournament for all 38 iterations, much to the ire of other teams on the bubble—sorry Ohio Bobcats fans—when they were placed into the tournament field. Now they’ll have to contend with a UCLA team that got hot at the end of the season.
The Bruins started the season slowly but picked up steam en route to finishing the season on a 10-2 run. This figures to be one of the closer matchups in the first round and puts a blue blood against a team trying to prove that it wasn’t just a flash in the pan. You’ll want to watch.
I’ve said it already, but any time you get to watch Kristine Anigwe play, you need to get to a television. The Cal big is a joy to watch dominate in the post and watching her matchup against Janelle Bailey will be fascinating. UNC proved that it could knock off superior competition when it beat Notre Dame and kept things close against Louisville in January. Whether another upset is in the cards is something worth tuning in for.
So settle in and prepare for another day jam-packed with hoops.