Winners and losers of this year's women's NCAA tournament bracket

Everyone included in the field of 64 for the NCAA tournament is happy on Selection Monday. It's just that some are happier than others. Here's a look at who had the best and worst day.


Oregon: No team should be happier about its draw. The Pac-12 champion not only earned a No. 2 seed in a region that doesn't include UConn, which is always the first step toward a successful selection day, it could also reach the Final Four without ever leaving the Pacific Northwest. The chance to play in Spokane, Washington, if the Ducks reach the Sweet 16 would be both a homecoming for coach Kelly Graves, who made his name guiding Gonzaga to postseason success, and also the best path forward for his new program.

City of Lexington: This is the third consecutive year in which Rupp Arena hosts a regional. Attendance the first two years was, shall we say, spotty. All right, it was abysmal. Other than a brief stay by Kentucky two years ago, when it lost to Kelsey Plum and Washington in the Sweet 16, there have been a lot of Pac-12 teams on the court and not a lot of fans in the stands. That should change this year if top-seeded Louisville advances -- in a season in which Cardinals fans don't have any competing interest in the men's tournament.

Oklahoma: UConn twice captured men's and women's championships in the same season. That's a difficult feat to pull off, but it might not be more difficult than what Oklahoma managed in becoming the most controversial at-large selection in both tournaments in the same season. Maybe the Oklahoma women's streak of now 19 consecutive bids deserved to end. But given that Sherri Coale is more willing than most coaches to go to difficult places, losing this season at South Dakota State, hopefully this bid at least sends a message about scheduling.

Big East: The reshaping of the Big East left it with arguably the widest gulf between its men's and women's programs of any major basketball conference. The women's side still can't dream of getting two No. 1 seeds in the same season, as the men did this year, but there are four Big East teams in the women's draw, the most in recent years. Only No. 11 Creighton is a significant underdog by seeding in the first round against No. 6 Iowa, with No. 5 DePaul, No. 8 Marquette and No. 9 Villanova all single-digit seeds.

Northern Colorado: The strongest seed of any of the five teams making their NCAA tournament debuts, No. 10 Northern Colorado heads to Waco, Texas, with a legitimate chance to compete against No. 7 Michigan in the first round. After early wins against LSU and DePaul, Northern Colorado overcame a midseason lull and the departure of the team's third-leading scorer, Courtney Smith, to enter the NCAA tournament with a 13-game winning streak.


Duke: Let's see, the Blue Devils were ostensibly the odd team out when it came to hosting the first two rounds after losing to NC State in the ACC tournament. Instead, they hit the road as the No. 5 seed in Athens. And if they survive that trip to Georgia, which includes a very difficult first-round game against tournament-tested Belmont, they will end up in the same regional as UConn for the fourth time in coach Joanne P. McCallie's 11 seasons in Durham, North Carolina. Congratulations?

Louisville: Wait, isn't Louisville's expected place in Lexington on the "winners" list? Yes, and the Cardinals are probably as happy as their fans that they could play in a regional so close to home. But coach Jeff Walz probably isn't too thrilled that Baylor, the best No. 2 seed in the selection committee's final reveal, is potentially headed his way instead of to Kansas City, Missouri. It's a small thing -- and a trade Louisville would likely make to stay at home, but it's a loss.

South Carolina fans: It's about a 13-hour drive from Columbia, South Carolina, to Albany, New York, nor'easter willing. That's actually the good news for South Carolina fans, because it's a lot closer than Stockton, California, or Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where their team played in regionals the past two years. Granted, there weren't good geographic options this year, and South Carolina did use a regional in Greensboro, North Carolina, as a springboard to its first Final Four when A'ja Wilson was a freshman. But the NCAA isn't making it easy on some of the most ardent fans to follow their team.

South Dakota: This wasn't a surprise, because the Coyotes weren't listed among the NCAA's final eight teams in contention ahead of the bracket. But what is the logic in omission? South Dakota went 14-0 in the Summit League and swept two regular-season meetings from South Dakota State, which deservedly earned a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament. The micro blame is with the committee, but the macro blame is with mid-major conferences that tie their automatic bids to conference tournaments. Without that, the Summit would have had two teams.

South Florida: Seriously, selection committee, you aren't going to let the Bulls get away from conference overlord UConn for even a regional? Granted, USF would have to beat Buffalo and potentially Florida State and South Carolina for it to matter in the Albany Regional, but at least let them breathe in the crisp, clean air of a world without Huskies for a couple of weeks.