The Women's NCAA Tournament has reached the Sweet 16. How does the field look heading into the third round of the 2018 tournament?
SPOKANE REGION PREVIEW
The No. 1 seed is headed to their ninth-straight Sweet Sixteen appearance this weekend where they take on Texas A&M. The Irish can flat out fill it up averaging 85.5 points per game at third in the nation in scoring and have amped it up to 98.5 points per game in the tournament so far with wins over CSUN (99-81) and Villanova (98-72).
On the flip side, the Irish were holding their opponents to under 65 points per game for the majority of the season, in the last four games, teams are scoring over 76 a game on average. Part of this could be due to limited minutes from key starter Kathryn Westbeld dealing with an injury. Regardless, defending Chennedy Carter and keeping the Aggies off the glass will be keys to their success.
[credit]Texas A&M Athletics[/credit]
The Aggies defeated Drake 89-76 in the first round and DePaul 80-79 in the second round to punch their ticket to Spokane. Freshman Chennedy Carter is one of the best players in the country averaging 22 points per game and continues to turn head with the way she plays. She can score it from anywhere, can get it to the rim, can shoot it deep and has a quickness that makes her extremely difficult to guard.
6-foot-5 Khaalia Hillsman and Anriel Howard will need to do a job on the glass, as the Aggies are the best rebounding team in the region. They out-rebound their opponents by an average of nine per game but will have their hands full with Notre Dame's Jessica Shepard down low and their guard rebounding production.
The Mid-American Conference champs continue to impress with convincing victories over LSU and Ohio State. The Chippewa's can shoot it well. They hit seven three pointers against LSU and 14 three pointers against hometown favorite, Ohio State. Their inside presence, Tinara Moore, averages 18.9 points and 10 rebounds a game making an inside-out combination very difficult to guard for opponents.
Central Michigan has a big task at hand as they match up with Oregon. Trying to slow down the Ducks offensive production and Sabrina Ionescu will be difficult. Both teams can really go, they like to play fast and both teams can flat out shoot it.
Fresh off their Pac-12 regular season and tournament championship, the Oregon Ducks are 32-4 on the season and have one of the most exciting offenses in the country. This is largely in part of sophomore Sabrina Ionescu, who is one of the top players in the nation and has set the NCAA record for triple-doubles.
The Ducks are no stranger to the underdog role. Last year, they were the ones pulling off upsets to reach the Elite Eight. Matching up against 11-seed Central Michigan this weekend, they know all to well not to take anyone lightly. Defending CMU on the perimeter is crucial, they have unlimited range and hold a very dangerous nothing-to-lose mentality.
This is one of the most exciting regions, the storylines seem endless. From Notre Dame's season-long journey facing countless injuries, Central Michigan's Cinderella run, Oregon's accomplishments from a year ago and the excitement behind Ionescu to Texas A&M's Chennedy Carter as one of the most exciting players to watch in the country, lookout folks. I anticipate an Oregon vs. Notre Dame to secure a spot in the Final Four.
Saturday, March 24; Spokane, Wash
Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M – 4:00pm ET
Oregon vs. Central Michigan – 6:30pm ET
Monday, March 26th
Elite Eight – 3:00pm ET