STANFORD (1) vs. Penn State (3) _ Big players lead teams to the Final Four and Chiney Ogwumike will get the Cardinal there for the sixth straight year. The Nittany Lions make it a step farther than last season, but still fall short of their first Final Four since 2000.
OKLAHOMA CITY REGIONAL
BAYLOR (1) vs. Prairie View A&M (16) _ These teams played in the first round of the NCAA tournament two years ago and the Lady Bears came away with a 36-point win. Brittney Griner and Co. are much better, and it will be a much wider margin.
PRINCETON (9) vs. Florida State (8) _ The only thing missing from Niveen Rasheed’s career at Princeton is an NCAA tournament victory. That will change after the Tigers beat the Seminoles giving an Ivy League school a win for the first time since the Harvard-Stanford upset in 1998.
LOUISVILLE (4) vs. Middle Tennessee (13) _ If the Blue Raiders were playing this game on a neutral court they’d have a really good shot at pulling off the upset behind star Ebony Rowe. Unfortunately for Middle Tennessee, the game is being played at Louisville. The home court will be the difference.
PURDUE (5) vs. Liberty (12) _ The Flames enter the NCAA tournament on a 14-game winning streak despite losing starting point guard Emily Frazier to a knee injury on Feb. 16. They’re running against a Boilermakers squad that peaked at the right time with a Big Ten tournament title.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN (11) vs. Oklahoma (6) _ The Chippewas have size, depth and athleticism, and in Crystal Bradford, a rising star. A demanding non-conference schedule with games against Notre Dame and Purdue prepared them for tournament play. It will be too much for an injury-plagued Oklahoma team that lost four players, including three starters, to season-ending injuries by the start of December.
UCLA (3) vs. Stetson (14) _ Fresh off a finals appearance in the Pac-12 tournament, Cori Close’s team is peaking at the right time. The Hatters rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to win the Atlantic Sun Championship over top-seed FGCU. They won’t have the same success against the Bruins.
SYRACUSE (7) vs. Creighton (10) _ Star center Kayla Alexander will cap off her stellar career by helping the Orange win their first NCAA tournament game. She’ll be too much for Bluejays center Sarah Nelson, who is the leading post player in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.91).
TENNESSEE (2) vs. Oral Roberts (15) _ Holly Warlick will get her first NCAA tournament victory, ending the college career of talented Oral Roberts guard Kevi Luper.
BAYLOR (1) vs. Princeton (9) _ Rasheed has had a great career at Princeton, but the Tigers don’t have enough to contain Griner and the defending national champions.
LOUISVILLE (4) vs. Purdue (5) _ The Boilermakers have been a Jekyll and Hyde team, and looked great to end the season winning Big Ten tournament. Don’t think they have enough to beat the Schimmel sisters and Louisville.