NCAA Women’s Tournament second-round picks: Georgia-Iowa, Arizona-Maryland and more

Watch Creighton and Gonzaga struggle mightily from 3, Iowa break the gap against Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi State hit everything they threw at the basket, Miami come back from a deficit of 17 points and James Madison giving Ohio State all it could handle is a good reminder that anything can happen in March. Trends and stats from the regular season don’t always translate into March.

My overall record (picks are based on spread, not outright winners) from the first round is 19-13. I underestimated Notre Dame to cover the spread, overestimated South Carolina’s ability to reach a margin of almost 50 points and I should have trusted FGCU. But that’s part of the madness, right?

Place in the second round.

If you are unfamiliar with betting numbers, the general idea is that you subtract the number from the score, and that should make it equal. So “South Carolina -25.5” basically means the Gamecocks should win by 26 points against South Florida. The .5 allows you to choose a side, so there is no tie. In short, the team with the number “-” next to it gives the other team that much head start in this figurative world. If “PK” is listed, it means the teams are ranked evenly matched and it’s a straight win or lose choice.

Sunday, No. 8 South Florida vs. No. 1 South Carolina (-25.5), 1 p.m. ET, ESPN

South Carolina cruised to an easy 72–40 victory over Norfolk State but failed to cover the huge 49.5-point gap allowed. The Gamecocks shot about eight percent below their season average (46.8 percent) and played sloppy at times. But South Carolina relied on what worked all season – dominating the glass, controlling the paint and scoring buckets.

South Florida was often overworked and struggled to find an offensive rhythm in their first-round win over Marquette. The Bulls shot poorly from 3 (11.2%) but managed to get the ball inside. They need to shoot a lot better and fight on the boards to give South Carolina a game. Perimeter fire success is paramount. Pick: South Carolina

Georgia No. 10 at Iowa No. 2 (-12.5), 3 p.m., ABC

Iowa destroyed Southeast Louisiana by 52 points and Caitlin Clark (26 points, 12 assists and seven boards) did her thing. The Hawkeyes keep rolling playing basketball as a team, protecting the glass (36 defensive rebounds) and making shoving plays. Georgia survived the first round without Ta’Niya Latson, who was absent from the tournament. The Bulldogs need to slow down and disrupt the Hawkeyes’ offense and control the boards. But Iowa has size and strength in the paint, as well as multiple perimeter threats. The scoring barrage continues. Pick: Iowa


NCAA Women’s Tournament upset picks: Three potential upsets to watch on Sunday

No. 11 Mississippi State vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (-6.5), 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Mississippi State outshot Creighton from start to finish all court, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and 57.9 percent from 3 (they averaged 36.1 percent this season). Notre Dame is without Olivia Miles and Dara Mabrey, but looked like a full team against Southern Utah. The Irish face stiffer competition in Mississippi State, which is tough and scrappy enough to climb out of the top four. With four Notre Dame starters averaging double digits, the Bulldogs need to beef up their defense. The choice: Notre-Dame

No. 9 South Dakota State vs. No. 1 Virginia Tech (-9.5), 5:00 p.m., ESPN2

South Dakota State had enough offensive punch to outrun the USC defense, even though they only shot 20 percent on 3. The Jackrabbits won the rebound battle but turned the ball over more 20 times. They can’t be this sloppy against Virginia Tech. The Hokies’ defense isn’t as tough as the Trojans, but they’re solid offensively and get the ball into the paint. They can also strike from the outside. The Jackrabbits need another big game from senior forward Myah Sellend (29 points against USC). Expect a back and forth in a game that could be a lot closer than many anticipate. Virginia Tech takes the win but loses to the spread. The choice: the state of South Dakota

7 Arizona at No. 2 Maryland (-9.5), 5:30 p.m., ESPN

The Terrapins play good basketball on both sides, knocking out first-round opponent Holy Cross. Arizona struggled to score in the second and fourth quarters of their first-round win over West Virginia, and the Wildcats shot just 16.7 percent from 3. They can’t afford to do the same against Maryland. Pick: Maryland


Maryland, ready for a deep tournament, was a team of outsiders before a cabin retreat

No. 10 Princeton at No. 2 Utah (-9.5), 7 p.m., ESPN2

Princeton’s trademark defense kept the Tigers in the game against NC State, forcing 20 turnovers and capitalizing on 13 interceptions and four blocks for an upset. Utah scored 103 points against Gardner-Webb, shooting 58.7 percent from the field, and looked unstoppable. Princeton will need a Herculean defensive effort, especially against junior forward Alissa Pili (a career-high 33 points on Friday). The Tigers need to contain the Utes to keep them from reaching their scoring potential (84.1 ppg), and also figure out how to get enough points to keep pace. This is where the gap might be too big. Pick: Utah

Michigan No. 6 vs. LSU No. 3 (-10.5), 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Michigan, which beat UNLV on Friday, is set to host another full game against LSU. The Tigers had a tough middle quarter against Hawaii, but LSU’s paint points made up for the 1-of-14 to 3 move. Brave Wolverines won’t allow an easy night for double-double machine Angel Reese on the inside , and the Tigers will need more of their backyard. Alexis Morris and Flau’jae Johnson had just 16 points combined against Hawaii. LSU will pass Michigan, but it will take a team effort. Pick: Michigan

No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 1 Stanford (-11), 9:30 p.m., ESPN

Ole Miss’ defensive performance against Gonzaga was impressive. But for a team that has held Utah, LSU and South Carolina to less than 70 points this season, that shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The Rebels controlled the pace and held the Bulldogs to 5.9% 3-point shooting (from 40.5%). It’s harder to accomplish against Stanford. The Cardinal connected on just eight shots out of lane in a first-round win over Sacred Heart. This will be key for Ole Miss. During the season, the Cardinal struggled against strong defensive teams that cluttered the paint and forced jumpers. This matchup could be closer than the gap suggests. But Stanford still wins. The pick: Ole Miss

Check back for Monday’s second-round picks.

(Photo by Shaina Pellington: Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


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