Women’s March Madness bracket predictions 2024: Picks, analysis, region breakdowns

It’s the best time of the year — March Madness!

Women’s college basketball has exploded over the past five years, but this year it seems bigger than ever. With stars like Caitlin Clark, Cameron Brink and more headed into their final NCAA tournament — the women’s bracket comes with more stakes than ever this year.

This year’s tournament is set to be a fun mix of predictability with some show-stopping moments sprinkled in. The fun part about the women’s college basketball landscape right now is that there is SO much talent. There are more than just a few schools who have a real shot, and upsets can happen at any time.

There are some favorites going in — of course Clark and her Iowa Hawkeyes will be a constant in brackets. There’s also the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks, looking to put the cherry on top of a wildly successful season with a national title.

While many vets are hoping to make one last mark, the freshman are already proving that they are ready to handle business. Juju Watkins, Hannah Hidalgo, and MiLaysia Fulwiley in particular have burst onto the scene and will surely headline stories this March.

Plus, if conference tournaments were any indication of what is to come in March Madness, it’s going to be… well, Madness! So let’s get into the regions.

Albany 1 Region

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Sometimes you have to prioritize your brain over your heart when filling out a bracket. Luckily, a lot of the time your brain and your heart match up pretty well. That’s the case here, with picking South Carolina to make it out of the Albany 1 region.

Don’t be shocked when most brackets you see take Dawn Staley’s South Carolina Gamecocks to not only win Albany 1, but the entire tournament. It feels a little inevitable at this point, with their undeniable chemistry and extreme levels of talent. This team and their leader make it hard not to love them.

Going into the year, the Gamecocks were doubted due to their young roster and the amount of change they had endured since the previous season. If an Aliyah Boston-led Gamecocks team couldn’t complete the undefeated season, how could this completely new team do it? Well, turns out they probably can!

As the number one seed in their region, they also have the benefit of a fairly easy bracket — especially when you think about how good this team is. Their biggest challenge will most likely only come in the Elite Eight, when they could possibly meet up with Notre Dame.

Now, don’t discredit Notre Dame — the ACC champions had a fantastic year and are led by the dynamic duo of Hannah Hidalgo and Sonia Citron. If South Carolina is going to struggle, it will be in this game. Notre Dame absolutely has a chance to upset the country’s best team and make it to the Final Four. We almost saw the Gamecocks fall to Tennessee at the SEC tournament, and another situation like that could happen again, especially with Hildalgo on her A-game.

Nebraska is another school to keep your eye on in Albany 1. The Huskers have given top seeded teams a run for their money in the Big Ten conference this year, nearly beating the Iowa Hawkeyes for the championship.

Overall, it will take a heroic performance from one of these schools to knock the Gamecocks out of contention for their second national title in three years.

Albany 2 Region

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Caitlin Clark, meet the Region of Death. Even with the benefit of match ups that come with being a one seed, Iowa is going to have to pull a few heroics to make it back to the championship game. Albany 2 ended up being an incredibly competitive region, and the chance for upsets is maybe highest in this corner of the bracket.

The Hawkeyes have the talent to easily get past Princeton and Colorado, but their Elite Eight match up should be interesting. I have them facing UCLA, but that’s only if the Bruins can beat defending national champions LSU.

If there was one top seed that could get eliminated early, it would be LSU. Their attempts to run it back this year haven’t really gone to plan. While the Gamecocks ooze chemistry, from the outside looking in, the same can’t be said for LSU.

They surely have a lot of talent though, which has helped them so far this season. While I still don’t agree that it was the right place for Hailey Van Lith to spend her (potentially) final college season, she is undeniably a talent that helps this Tigers team. She is traditionally an off-ball shooting guard, and given the responsibilities of a primary point guard this season has taken away from her shooting ability.

The Bracket Gods seem to love a good laugh though, because LSU and Van Lith’s previous school, Louisville, will likely meet in the second round. Now, it’s likely LSU takes this game, but Louisville also has the potential to do something incredibly funny — that’s win.

To leave a school for better opportunity, only to lose to them the next year is undeniably kind of funny. It happened last year when Dorka Juhasz and UConn lost to Ohio State (though it was two years after Juhasz transferred), and would certainly provide some good television.

Still, I don’t think LSU makes it past UCLA and Iowa. UCLA has some talented post players who could give Angel Reese a hard time in the paint. Iowa on the other hand is an offensive powerhouse, and I’m not entirely sure LSU will be able to keep up in points this time around.

So, we are taking Iowa to make it out of Albany 2 in the end.

Portland 3 Region

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This is undeniably another difficult region, as talent does not really reflect seeding. First, you have Virginia Tech at a four-seed. The Hokies were a one-seed last season. There hasn’t been confirmation that the team’s star Elizabeth Kitley will be in good enough health to play — that will be a huge factor in this bracket.

You also have Ohio State, who beat UConn last year in the Sweet Sixteen and has the possibility to knock the Huskies out early again this year. Cotie McMahon just keeps getting better and will help boost the Buckeyes’ chances.

It also doesn’t help that UConn’s roster is incredibly depleted. The Huskies announced this week that Amari DeBerry will miss the entire tournament with a concussion. That’s on top of the fact that Edwards broke her nose during the Big East tournament. She should be back to start the tournament, but it’s not certain.

With Edwards, UConn has an eight-woman roster. Sure, one of those eight women is Paige Bueckers, who continues to be one of the best players in the country — but that’s still poor luck for UConn.

Still, they are being incredibly underrated this year, in my opinion. If Edwards can suit up, I think they have a good a chance as any to make it far in the tournament. I have them making it out of the region, but that will only come if they perform their best against USC.

UConn or USC are both excellent picks out of this region. UConn has the benefit of experience — their team is led by seniors who have gone far in this tournament most of their college careers. USC may be rising this year, but they also have Juju Watkins, who is making a case to be one the best athletes in women’s college basketball history as a freshman.

If they do meet up in the Elite Eight, it’s going to be a battle. To get there, USC will have to get past Virginia Tech and a strong Michigan team, while UConn will have to beat Ohio State, while staying healthy.

If health is on their side, I take UConn to make it out of Portland 3 region.

Portland 4 Region

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The Portland 4 region may be the most upset-worthy region of all. While I have Stanford making it out, they’ve also been a little up and down this season. They most recently lost to USC in the Pac-12 championship game — but they also have Cameron Brink on their side. Brink, who has already announced she will be declaring for the WNBA draft after this season, is incredibly efficient in the paint and will have a fire under her in her final NCAA tournament.

The number one seed in this region is Texas, who ended the year ranked fourth in the country with a 30-4 record. Yet, Stanford is right behind them at the five spot. If these two teams meet in the Elite Eight, it’s looking to be an epic game.

Texas will have an intriguing Sweet Sixteen matchup though, with the possibility of facing Utah or Gonzaga. Utah certainly has the talent to take them far — they were among top ranked teams in the country to start the year, but a few losses hurt them as the season progressed.

Still, March is a clean slate. On Stanford’s side of the bracket, they also have the potential to see some tough opponents in Maryland, NC State, and Tennessee. All three have the potential to knock the Cardinal out prematurely.

If Stanford holds strong, I have them making it out of Portland 4 region.

Final Four

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An epic rematch may be upon us. One that, last year, many thought should have been the championship game. This year, it could be.

We have the Gamecocks facing Stanford in the Final Four, and we’re taking South Carolina to grab the first spot in the National Championship.

On the other side, we have the Iowa Hawkeyes vs, the UConn Huskies. Rewind a few years ago, when Caitlin Clark and Paige Bueckers won co-Freshman of the Year together, and were often compared to one another. UConn beat Iowa in the tournament during that first season — and even back then it was clear these two were going to change the game.

Unfortunately, Bueckers has experienced a lot of injuries in her four seasons at UConn. She is now a redshirt junior as opposed to a fellow senior with Clark, after Bueckers missed her whole junior season recovering from ACL surgery. Both had the option to stay in college another year, using their extra year of eligibility given to athletes who played during the COVID pandemic. Clark decided she was ready to declare for the WNBA, while Bueckers decided to take another year at UConn.

So, this will be the final college match-up between the old friends — if they can make it there. It will be surely be an entertaining game, with both young stars having the ability to put up monster points and control the game.

I picked Iowa to make it to the championship, mostly because of depth. With just eight players available for the tournament, UConn will likely feel the effects of exhaustion sooner. Plus, Iowa has a few more players who can back Clark up with big performances than UConn may have behind Bueckers.

Which leads us to the rematch. South Carolina vs Iowa for the championship.

When this match up happened in the Final Four last year, many lamented that this should have been the championship game. Well, wish granted — it very well could be.

While Iowa will be hungry to redeem themselves after losing in the final last year, South Carolina somehow always has the potential to beat out their opponents. Whether the team excels offensively or defensively, South Carolina will take advantage.

Regardless, this is going to be a fantastic game, if we get it. Expect a battle, a shooting masterclass and all the fanfare that the women’s game deserves.

This year’s Women’s March Madness feels like the end of an era, but also the beginning of something extremely exciting for basketball and women’s sports in general.

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