The 2022 Women’s NCAA Tournament Bracket is now set, and Baylor is a two seed set to host the first two rounds this weekend at the Ferrell Center in Waco.
The NCAA’s inability to run two equitable tournaments for both the men and women in 2021 resulted in an investigation on gender inequality. The report was damning indicating that the men were—unsurprisingly—treated better at every turn by the NCAA. Here are just a few examples:
- NCAA refused to use the March Madness slogan for the women’s tournament
- The NCAA spent $13.5 million more on the men’s tournament in 2019
- There are fewer teams in the women’s tournament
- CBS and Turner Sports pay $1.1 billion a year for rights to the men’s tournament; whereas ESPN pays only $34 million a year for the women’s
- That is estimated to be at least $50 million below the fair market value of what the women’s tournament is worth and ESPN receives the rights for 28 other NCAA championships. There has not been a competitive bid process for these events in nearly two decades
- Companies who want to advertise the women’s tournament must also sign up to sponsor the men’s tournament
- Lower wages for employees of the women’s tournament; less adequate gifts for players and fewer travel sites and resources as evidenced from 2021
The NCAA is working to fix a few of these this year, including:
- Using the March Madness logo
- Same pay rates for referees for both men and women’s games
- Have 68 teams in the field.
There is still a long way to go, and I would personally argue that both the mens and women’s Final Fours be held in the same city so fans do not have to pick between one or the other.
Without further ado, here are the thoughts on the bracket.
South Carolina, despite their stunning loss to Kentucky in the SEC title game, still received the No. 1 overall seed. They are led by POY candidate Aliyah Boston who broke the SEC record for games with a double double (24).
Arizona is in this region as the No. 4 seed. The Wildcats came up just short in the national title game last season to Stanford. Miami, who stunned Louisville in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament on a crazy buzzer beater, is the No. 8 seed.
Iowa State fell to the No. 3 line and their rivals in Iowa are the No. 2 seed. It could be an epic shooting Sweet 16 showdown with Ashley Joens and Caitlin Clark launching up one distance tres.
Despite the upset loss, Louisville secured the last No. 1 seed. They are opposite Baylor in this region and if all goes chalk it could be a 2013 Sweet 16 rematch. This region seems to be the most wide open for anyone to take.
After living on the bubble nearly all year, Villanova finished second in the Big East and squeaked in as an No. 11 seed. A great reward for defeating UConn—and snapping their 169 Big East winning streak.
The Sweet 16 could get very interesting in this region if there is chalk. First, No. 4 Tennessee would face No. 5 Oregon. The Ducks split their series with Arizona, beat UConn but lost to South Carolina, South Florida and Kansas State and finished second in the Pac-12 to Stanford.
The Volunteers started the season strong before faltering down the stretch, losing four of their final six games that included South Carolina and LSU to place them third in the SEC.
Then, No. 2 Baylor would have a rematch vs No. 3 Michigan. The Bears lost to Naz Hillmon and the Wolverines back in December on a neutral floor in Connecticut in overtime. It would also be a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 in San Antonio where NaLyssa Smith never missed a shot and Baylor prevailed in overtime.
A lot has changed since that the end of 2021. Baylor would have to beat Hawaii and then the winner of Ole Miss and South Dakota to make it that far.
Stanford, the defending national champions, are the No. 1 seed in this region. They will have arguably the toughest path in order to repeat.
The Cardinal may play Kansas in the second round as the No. 8 Jayhawks had a nice year in Big 12 play—improving by eight wins in conference— and are in the field for the first time since 2013.
A dangerous 12 seed will be Florida Gulf Coast who beat LSU early this season and play Virginia Tech in the first round. If they pull the upset they could face another tough ACC team in Maryland as the Terps were ranked in the top three early in the year.
Kim Mulkey was not seeded in the same region as Baylor—in fact if they played each other it would be in the national title game—but the Tigers got a nice No. 3 seed and still may face the dangerous Big 12 champions in Vic Schaefer’s Texas Longhorns.
This may be the most upset prone region as Missouri State and Florida State will have a play-in game to determine the No. 11 seed, Arkansas is a good team at No. 10 and the No. 8/9 winner could get hot.
Texas is playing extremely well with Rori Harmon at the helm and LSU is a bit banged up. Plus Texas already beat Stanford this year; I like the Longhorns to have an excellent shot at making the Final Four.
What may be the most controversial region, the No. 1 seed is N.C. State; however, UConn is the two seed and would be playing the equivalent of a home game should they make the Elite Eight. That puts the ACC champion Wolfpack in a tough position, especially with the Huskies nearly fully healthy.
Ayoka Lee and Kansas State are the No. 9 seed will try to make noise and they will need a lot of points from their junior center to do so. The Big 12’s Oklahoma is also in this region as a No. 4 seed and should have an excellent opportunity to advance to the Sweet 16.
Think this region all comes down to Connecticut making a run as the stars seem to be aligned in order for them to do so.
My Final Four: South Carolina-Baylor and Texas-UConn. Smith and the Bears take down the Gamecocks and face UConn in the title. Baylor wins the rematch of last’s Elite eight, and more importantly, the championship.