Women's Tournament 2014: Schedule and Bracket Predictions for Elite 8 Day 1

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2014

Baylor's Kristina Higgins, from left, Sune Agbuke, Odyssey Sims, and Makenzie Robertson celebrate on the bench in the closing moments against Kentucky during the second half of their NCAA women's college basketball tournament regional semifinal at the Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, March 29, 2014. Baylow won 90-72. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya

Upsets have crushed any and all brackets on the women's side of the 2014 Madness.

The Sweet 16 was simply devastating for top seeds. The historic Tennessee Lady Vols were taken down by Maryland to the surprise of most, while No. 1 South Carolina had its first-ever top seeding ruined at the hands of No. 4 North Carolina.

Don't blink, because the action picks right back up on Monday with the Elite Eight. Two games are on the slate, and the bracket is to the point where there should not be any more surprises as the best of the best are set to hit the court.


Elite Eight Day 1 Schedule
Date Time (ET) Matchup TV Live StreamPredicted Winner
March 31 7:30 p.m. Baylor (No. 2) vs. Notre Dame (No. 1) ESPN Watch ESPNNotre Dame
March 31 9:30 p.m. Texas A&M (No. 3) vs. Connecticut (No. 1) ESPN Watch ESPNUConn

 For the full bracket, check out NCAA.com.


Baylor (No. 2) vs. Notre Dame (No. 1)

Nam Y. Huh

Notre Dame and Connecticut continue to be on a fateful crash course.

The Fighting Irish continued their dominant path in the Sweet 16 with an 89-72 victory over Oklahoma State. To hold up its end of the bargain in a showdown with UConn, Notre Dame will first have to move past the Baylor Lady Bears.

Baylor has been on quite the roll as well, although not many had predicted the inexperienced group would make it this far. But now the team is all grown up, as head coach Muffet McGraw explained, according to Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune:

At the beginning of the year, I think their team was all Odyssey. They were waiting for the freshmen to come along, and they have. I think you have to credit Odyssey's leadership for that.

McGraw is of course referring to Odyssey Sims, who dropped 25 points on Kentucky en route to the Elite Eight bout with Notre Dame—a team the Lady Bears historically dominate, as illustrated by Nick Canizales of KCEN:

Sims is surrounded by budding talent, but Notre Dame remains more talented this time around. Stars like Natalie Achonwa and Kayla McBride lead the way for the experienced group. The Fighting Irish have won 35 in a row for a reason, and there is nothing to suggest that the streak won't reach 36 after Monday.

Prediction: Notre Dame 67, Baylor 63


Texas A&M (No. 3) vs. Connecticut (No. 1)

Mar 29, 2014; Lincoln, NE, USA; Texas A&M Aggies center Karla Gilbert (34) and guard Courtney Walker (33) watch the final moments against the DePaul Blue Demons during the second half in the semifinals of a women's college basketball game in the Lincoln r
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

It's no shock to see UConn has absolutely obliterated the competition en route to the Elite Eight.

The same cannot be said for Texas A&M, but here are the Aggies. Head coach Gary Blair is well aware of the task ahead on Monday, as captured by Rich Elliott of the Connecticut Post:

Then again, Blair is confident in his team as he told reporters, per the Associated Press, via ESPN:

They've got five future WNBA first-round choices in their starting lineup. That's how good they are. But for 40 minutes Monday night, why not? Why not? ... I like my team, I like our chances.

Don't count Aggies out. OK, we might be undermanned. I've got a nice team. They've got a great team. But the difference is it's a 40-minute game. It's not a season series. If it was a series, best out of seven, I wouldn't like my chances.

The Aggies averaged just 70.3 points per game in the regular season compared to UConn's 82.7, but the likes of Courtney Williams and Courtney Walker make it hard to count Texas A&M out thanks to their strong inside-out attack.

To be fair, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma fears this time of year:

It's like when you read about people climbing Mount Everest. They get to where it's 500-600 feet away from the top, and that's when most accidents happen. You're right there, right on the edge, and it affects different people different ways.

Fortunately for Auriemma, his team is 36-0 for good reason, as the roster is perhaps one of the strongest in history. The Aggies will put up a better fight than most expect—as they have all year—but they won't have enough in the tank to pull off the upset.


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