Women’s tournament rundown

Amelia Knopp, Staff Writer

The 2021 National Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Basketball Tournament has not failed to deliver the madness this March. The first three rounds of the tournament involved highly-anticipated matchups, blowout victories, and a few thrilling upsets. 

The first day of the tournament proved to be a successful outing for top teams, with all 16 higher-ranked seeds winning their matchups. No. 1 seeds UConn and Stanford are heavily favored to win it all. Three of four No. 1 seeds — Stanford, South Carolina and UConn — paved their way to the Elite Eight. They were joined by No. 2 seeds Louisville and Baylor, as well as No. 3 seed Arizona, No. 4 seed Indiana and No. 6 seed Texas. 

Basketball fans were thrilled to see a Sweet Sixteen matchup between two of the best freshmen in the country — No. 1 seed UConn’s Paige Bueckers and No. 5 seed Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. Both players have picked up impressive accolades and statistics this season, along with recognition from Women’s National Basketball Association legend Diana Taurasi and National Basketball Association star Kevin Durant, who said Clark belongs in the WNBA “right now.” Despite expectations of a close game, UConn defeated Iowa 92-72 behind Christyn Williams’ 27-point outing.

Basketball experts anticipated that Baylor’s talented team would have a deep tournament run this postseason. The Lady Bears won the last NCAA championship in 2019, and had another stellar season cut short due to COVID-19 in 2020. 

This year, in the second round, Baylor beat Virginia Tech by 42 points. The Lady Bears extended their lead by shooting 50% from the field. In the second half, Baylor’s comfortable lead allowed the players to have some fun, lobbing passes to all-American Nalyssa Smith for attempted dunks and tip-ins. However, UConn bested the Lady Bears by two points in a championship-caliber Elite Eight matchup. 

The 2021 Women’s Tournament has drawn attention off the court as well, after Oregon’s Sedona Prince and various players posted about inequalities between the men’s and women’s tournaments. Fans became outraged after seeing the women’s inadequate weight rooms, smaller NCAA gear bags and lower-quality food. The NCAA chalked up the inequities to budget differences, hoping to resolve the controversy by opening up an assessment of gender equity within the organization and by immediately upgrading the women’s workout space. 

Fans around the country can tune in to the Final Four matchups on Friday, April 2. The tournament will wrap up with the championship game in the Alamodome on Sunday.