South Carolina, Indiana, Stanford and Virginia Tech are the No. 1 seeds for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. A No. 1 seed has won the title the past 10 years.
Dawn Staley has been working on building a dynasty in South Carolina for some time.
The Gamecocks coach, who is in her 14th year at South Carolina, has the top-seeded Gamecocks heading into the 2023 NCAA women’s basketball tournament as the clear favorites to cut down the nets on April 2 and claim a second straight national championship. Paced by senior forward Aliyah Boston, a leading national player of the year candidate, and senior guard Zia Cooke, South Carolina takes an unblemished 32-0 record into the tournament.
Indiana, Stanford and Virginia Tech account for the other No. 1 seeds. Each team has played well enough during the season to warrant attention as teams to be reckoned with entering the tournament. No. 2 seeds UConn, Iowa, Maryland and Utah have also performed consistently at a high level, making them also legitimate contenders to reach the Final Four set for March 31 in Dallas.
Yet, the sportsbooks lean heavily in favor of South Carolina winning it all. Caesars has odds of -210 on the Gamecocks prevailing as national champions while DraftKings, Barstool and BetRivers have odds of -200 on Staley’s team staking claim on a second consecutive national title after losing in the final seconds of the title game in 2021.
Barstool and BetRivers have odds of +750 on Stanford and +850 on UConn to win the national championship while DraftKings is offering odds of +800 on UConn and +900 on Stanford. Caesars has odds of +800 on Indiana and Stanford while offering odds of +900 on UConn.
Boston, shooting 56 percent from the field and averaging 13.3 points, leads a Gamecocks team seeking far more than just another national title. It’s a group hoping to make this year one of the most memorable campaigns in NCAA women’s basketball history. A run all the way to winning it all would mean the Gamecocks would become only the 10th undefeated national champion. They could also become the fifth program with at least three national championships. They claimed their first title in 2017 under Staley. South Carolina would also become only the fourth team to win back-to-back national championships.
Cooke, who averages a team-best 15.3 points, has been part of South Carolina’s core group that has posted an NCAA Division 1-best 125-8 record over the past four seasons. They lost only one home game (56-1) over that stretch.
Can Staley’s squad keep it rolling all the way to another championship? It certainly seems possible with a team that ranks among the nation’s best defensively. They rank No. 1 in blocks per game (9.0), second in rebounds per game (49.6), and fourth in points allowed (51.1).
Here’s a glance at what to look for once the tournament tips off:
A No. 1 seed has won the championship the past 10 years. That could bode well for either the Gamecocks, Hoosiers, Cardinal or Hokies.
With much talk being about South Carolina in most NCAA tournament discussions, Stanford enters the tournament slightly under the radar as a No. 2 seed. Yet, the Cardinal has Cameron Brink (14.9 points), Haley Jones (13.4 points), and Hannah Jump (11.3 points) as seasoned veterans who have experienced winning a national title in 2021.
Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, a player of the year candidate, could become the talk of the tournament should she guide the Hawkeyes to the Final Four. She’s got the game to score at-will against any defense. Her 27 points per game ranks third in the nation while leading the country with8 8.3 assists per game.
Two years removed from advancing to the Elite Eight, Indiana earned its first No. 1 seed in program history. The Hoosiers have an experienced lineup led by center Mackenzie Holmes, who averages 22.7 points while shooting 68.8 percent from the field. They rank second in the nation in field goal percentage at 49.8 percent while averaging 81.5 points per game.