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Re-ranking the women's Sweet 16 from most to least likely to win the title


The first weekend of the NCAA women's basketball tournament was one of the most upset-heavy ones of all time. All No. 1 seeds are still standing following dominant performances, but two of the No. 2 seeds and Final Four favorites fell out in shocking fashion.

Five of the top 16 seeded teams are out after the first weekend, bringing North Carolina, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Creighton and South Dakota into the fold. South Carolina, the No. 1 overall seed, looks vulnerable again, UConn barely survived and the No. 5 seeded Fighting Irish are off to a dazzling start.

Here are the 16 teams remaining ranked by their chances to win it all.

Team (Region and seed | record)

1. South Carolina (Greensboro 1 | 31-2)

South Carolina is holding onto the best chances, but just barely. Its offense looks stagnant in stretches even given a 79-21 win over No. 16 Howard and a sloppy 49-33 win over No. 8 Miami. Defense is always this program's go-to, but it can't be the only thing the Gamecocks fall back on with the offensive juggernauts awaiting. That they won while national Player of the Year contender Aliyah Boston shot 4-of-15 is what kept them atop the rankings.

Bet MGM odds: +125, down from +180

Next up: North Carolina (Friday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN). The Tar Heels hold opponents to the 11th-best effective field-goal percentage (39.8%) in the nation, but struggle to defend the perimeter.

2. Stanford (Spokane 1 | 30-3)

Stanford won its first game by 41 points and turned on the second-half power to defeat Kansas, 91-65, in the second round. The Cardinal can turn to anyone on any given night to lead the offense and have a deep bench. Lexie Hull has been the star so far. The senior guard's career-high 36 points against Kansas is the most by a Stanford player in an NCAA tournament game since Nneka Ogwumike's 39 in the 2012 Sweet 16.

BetMGM odds: +400

Next up: Maryland (Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN), another high-pace, high-scoring offense. Stanford defeated Maryland, 86-68, in November but that Terrapins squad wasn't fully healthy. 

Lexie Hull
Stanford guard Lexie Hull (12) smiles as the crowd reacts to her 3-point basket against Kansas in the second round on Monday. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

3. Louisville (Wichita 1 | 27-4)

Louisville came into the tournament in the final No. 1 spot, though there was an argument to be had for Baylor there. That's null and void. The Cardinals have a stingy defense and balanced offense that are both among the nation's best. Sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith had nearly identical stat lines in the first two rounds, shooting 50% overall and from 3-point range for a total of 42 points. Having Baylor knocked out of the bracket helps the Cardinals' cause.

BetMGM odds: +1000

Next up: Tennessee (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2), another team that survived and advanced. The Lady Vols still don't have their stat-stuffing guard back from injury.

4. Texas (Spokane 2 | 28-6)

Freshman Rori Harmon has 19 assists in the tournament and freshman Aaliyah Moore has 39 points off the bench. The Longhorns' defense allows on average 80.1 points per 100 possessions, top 15 in the country, and is the reason they're ranked so highly. They'll have to get through Stanford to win the region and high-scoring teams from Bridgeport.

BetMGM odds: +2000

Next up: Ohio State (Friday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2). The Buckeyes average 104.8 points per 100 possessions and rank top-10 in field goal percentage.

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5. Notre Dame (Bridgeport 5 | 24-8)

Notre Dame put the entire field on notice with its 44-point margin of victory over No. 4 seed and offensive standout Oklahoma in the second round. The offense looked flawless under freshman Olivia Miles' leadership and Dara Mabrey continued the line of family success in the tournament. Miles throwing no-look passes through the paint and across the court to players hitting shots at a 55% percent clip (and 41% behind the arc) is dangerous.

BetMGM odds: +8000

Next up: N.C. State (Saturday, 11:30 a.m. on ESPN). The Irish are one of the three teams to beat N.C. State this season and the good news for Notre Dame is it looks even better than that 69-66 win in February.

6. N.C. State (Bridgeport 1 | 31-3)

The concern for the Wolfpack will be center Elissa Cunane getting into foul trouble. She had two early fouls against Kansas State and had to sit, but it didn't end up impacting that game much. Junior Camille Hobby didn't miss a beat stepping into Cunane's spot. Despite Cunane's paltry four points, the Wolfpack won handily, 89-57. Doing that against Notre Dame or Indiana — opponents she has had her highest number of fouls against — or even UConn is a different story. But the ACC has been impressive so far this tournament and there's depth around Cunane to step up. 

BetMGM odds: +700

Next up: Notre Dame (Saturday, 11:30 a.m. on ESPN).

7. Connecticut (Bridgeport 2 | 27-5)

UConn came close to being knocked out in an ugly offensive outing against No. 7 seed UCF, the AAC competitor that kept closest to the Huskies when they were in the conference. The Huskies shot 29.2% and missed nine of 11 attempted layups, but survived with 3-pointers. That will need to clean up to get out of the Bridgeport region.

This is a team still building chemistry with Paige Bueckers back from a leg injury. When the Huskies are on, they're one of the best. Then there's games like UCF, a wake-up call to casual college basketball fans who shrug "UConn always wins."

BetMGM odds: +300

Next up: Indiana (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET on ESPN).

8. Indiana (Bridgeport 3 | 24-8)

Indiana escaped Princeton's late comeback that brought it within a possession of a win. The Hoosiers are an experienced group with chemistry and a balanced attack that doesn't rely on individual stars. All five starters average double-digit scoring and all but one of those averages five rebounds a game. The defense is one of the best at not allowing opponents to hit 3s or go to the free-throw line, so another bad day of missed easy buckets for UConn will spell "upset."

BetMGM odds: +5000

Next up: UConn (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET on ESPN)

Naz Hillmon
Michigan Wolverines forward Naz Hillmon, a WNBA lottery prospect, played her final game at Crisler Arena. (Photo by Tim Fuller/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Tim Fuller via Getty Images

9. Michigan (Wichita 5 | 24-6)

The Big Ten has had an impressive tournament so far, going 5-1 in the first round and 4-1 in the second round. Michigan and Naz Hillmon led the way. The WNBA lottery prospect couldn't be stopped against Villanova and finished with 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting with 11 rebounds and five steals. The Wolverines are lower on this list because of the South Dakota and Louisville defenses in their bracket. 

BetMGM odds: +4000

Next up: South Dakota (Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2), one of the best defenses in the country that took Baylor out of the game from the start. 

10. Iowa State (Greensboro 3 | 28-6)

Ashley Joens' 36-point and 15-rebound performance saved the Cyclones from an upset to UT Arlington. Sophomore guard Lexi Donarski stepped up for 20 points in a dominant win over Georgia. The Cyclones have one of the best 3-point and free-throw rates in the country, a good thing since Creighton averages around 10 3-pointers a game. 

BetMGM odds: +5000

Next up: Creighton (Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2).

11. Maryland (Spokane 4 | 23-8)

Maryland's 89-65 win against Florida Gulf Coast was impressive and the offense is playing to the highest levels of a season that's been filled with injuries and uncertainty. Angel Reese leads all Terrapins in scoring (17.5 ppg), rebounds (10.7) and steals (1.6). Point guard Ashley Owusu is back to form and guard Diamond Miller is shooting nearly 60%. The concern for Maryland is always defense. 

BetMGM odds: +3300

Next up: Stanford (Friday 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN)

12. North Carolina (Greensboro 5 | 25-6)

The Tar Heels were impressive in a 63-45 win against Arizona, but the Wildcats have been inconsistent all year in a lackluster Pac-12 and only recently added forward Cate Reese back from a shoulder injury. South Carolina's defense is exquisite and that forces down North Carolina's chances at winning a national title.

BetMGM odds: +5000

Next up: South Carolina (Friday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN). 

13. Ohio State (Spokane 6 | 23-6)

The Buckeyes survived against First Four winner Missouri State and handled Kim Mulkey's LSU squad, 79-64, by forcing 20 turnovers and hitting 10 3-pointers. Texas' defense is tougher to handle and there is the winner of Maryland vs. Stanford awaiting if the Buckeyes move through. 

BetMGM odds: +10000

Next up: Texas (Friday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2)

14. South Dakota (Wichita 10| 29-5)

South Dakota was dominant against Baylor and took the Bears out of the game early. It will have to be the same against Michigan's Naz Hillmon. The Coyotes rank top 10 in scoring defense (allowing 53.1 PPG) and turned turnovers into points in the second round. Taking Hillmon out and forcing others to step up is the key to a win.

BetMGM odds: +20000

Next up: Michigan (Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2)

15. Tennessee (Wichita 4 | 25-8)

Tennessee survived No. 12 Belmont by freshman Sara Puckett breaking out of a shooting slump to hit a 3-pointer in the corner and Tamari Key making both free throws. There's a chance the time between rounds will be advantageous. The Lady Vols are still waiting to see if junior guard Jordan Horston, their leading scorer and rebounder, will be back after a fractured dislocation of her left elbow. If she's still out, they'll need more clutch scoring from around the roster to break through Louisville's defense. 

BetMGM odds: +4000

Next up: Louisville (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2).

16. Creighton (Greensboro 10 | 22-9)

Creighton was a bad draw for Iowa in the second round and the Hawkeyes had their worst offensive day. Iowa State is likely thinking the same thing about how they match up with Creighton. The Bluejays will have to keep Ashley Joens (20.5 ppg) off her game. 

BetMGM odds: +25000

Next up: Iowa State (Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2)



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