As the famed saying goes, “This is March.” That means it’s time for the NCAA tournament for men’s and women’s hoops. On the women’s side, UConn enters as one of the favorites, but also with one of its most beatable teams in years. Meanwhile, Baylor has had a near-perfect season (including a win over the Huskies), and Notre Dame and Mississippi State once again have strong teams. Ahead of Monday’s selection show, in this week’s roundtable, writers make their predictions for which program will cut down the nets in Tampa in April.
Mike Mavredakis, Campus Correspondent
There are a lot of options here, but it comes down to dominance. Baylor beat UConn by 11 points and has not lost since December. They have hung up crooked scores on teams all year long. All but five of their 31 games were by 10 points or more and three of those were against ranked opponents. They spread around scoring, with four players averaging more than 10 points a game. Head coach Kim Mulkey has been there before, she has won two National Championships this century. She has the talent and the ability to bring them another.
Jorge Eckardt, Staff Writer
How can you go to UConn and not expect the Huskies to win the tournament every year? Yes, things have gone wrong for them in the Final Four the past two seasons, but I think this is the year they break that streak. While the team might not be as strong on paper as some past Auriemma squads, the leadership that Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson bring to this team can not be undervalued. After all, three years without a national championship? That hasn’t happened in over a decade, and I don’t expect it to happen now.
Mariana Dominguez, Staff Writer
Last season, Notre Dame won the National Championship with a team that so many people doubted. They lost players to injury and were seen as the dark horse of the tournament. This season, the Fighting Irish are back with practically an identical team and the confidence that they can beat anyone. It’s a scary combination to face when you’re playing them especially in the first couple rounds. If Notre Dame goes into the tournament with the same mindset from last season opponents including any opponent would need to play a near perfect game to defeat them.
Kevin Arnold, Staff Writer
As much as I want to pick UConn to end its two-year championship hiatus, Mississippi State is not a team to be taken lightly. The Bulldogs finished the season fourth in the AP Top 25 rankings, rolling over teams en route to a 30-2 record, and have not lost since Mizzou upset them on Valentine’s day. They shoot almost 50 percent from the field as a group and have four players averaging double-digit points, including Teaira McCowan’s 17.8 points and 13.5 rebounds. Not to mention, it was Mississippi State that ended the Huskies’ 111-win streak in the 2017 Final Four.