It was not long ago when a certain ex-ESPN business know-it-all who now works at the Action Network decided to put his proverbial foot in his mouth when he tried to do what typical insecure mansplainers do – downplay the NCAA women’s tournament.
Part of what he tweeted was the tired claim of the women’s tournament being an inferior product to the men’s tournament (an extension of his clearly even more tired belief that women’s sports are inferior to men’s) – partly because of a supposed lack of upsets.
The opening weekend of 2022 March Madness proved this certain scribe wrong …
Baylor’s run of 12 straight Sweet 16s is ended by South Dakota, who advances to the round for the first time EVER! pic.twitter.com/Sl8xBFCV5a
— espnW (@espnW) March 21, 2022
… and wrong …
Saturday Was For Our Girls. pic.twitter.com/4G3wUUwqdi
— Princeton WBB (@PrincetonWBB) March 20, 2022
… and wrong …
— ESPN (@espn) March 18, 2022
… and wrong …
BELMONT UPSETS OREGON 🚨⁰⁰No. 12 Bruins close out No. 5 Ducks in a wild 73-70 2OT finish pic.twitter.com/SMymeuQDh8
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 20, 2022
… and wrong …
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) March 19, 2022
… and wrong again.
10-seed Creighton upsets 2-seed Iowa!
Iowa transfer Lauren Jensen nailed the game winner against her former squad. pic.twitter.com/vnHENmldNR
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 20, 2022
There are few better feelings in sports than filling out a bracket in preparation of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament – then finding out that after the opening weekend that bracket has turned into molasses.
Think about it – the selection committee explicitly seeded Iowa No. 2 in the same bracket as South Carolina because it wanted an Aliyah Boston-Caitlin Clark matchup in the Elite Eight to all but settle the much ballyhooed National Player of the Year debate with the Gamecocks big and the Hawkeyes sharpshooter at the center of that back-and-forth.
Creighton’s defeat of Iowa in the second round was essentially a Dikembe Mutumbo-style finger wag to the committee – and to ESPN who likely had a bunch of Boston vs. Clark content at the ready for the upcoming weekend.
Consider this as well – there have been a litany of lottery picks that have seen their seasons end all too soon. At least they will not have three weeks (instead of one or two) to prepare for the upcoming WNBA draft, but Shakira Austin’s Ole Miss Rebels were eliminated in the first round by South Dakota. Lines.com has her going third to the Atlanta Dream in its latest mock draft.
Kentucky was upset in the first round by Princeton – Rhyne Howard is the consensus No. 1 overall pick to the Washington Mystics. Her next basketball will now be played in the confines of the W. NaLyssa Smith was bounced out of March Madness also via the Coyotes of South Dakota as Baylor tasted a rare early exit from the tourney. Smith is projected to go second overall to the Indiana Fever (per Lines). Oregon’s Nyara Sabally was on the receiving end of a 12-5 upset courtesy of Baylor. She is a first-round pick to the Las Vegas Aces, according to Lines.
Add that to teams such as Jackson State, Belmont and UCF nearly pulling off major upsets and one has a March Madness that is very, very mad indeed.
South Carolina, North Carolina, Iowa State, Creighton, Louisville, Tennessee, Michigan, South Dakota, Stanford, Maryland, Texas, Ohio State, NC State, Notre Dame, UConn and Indiana are the 16 teams left standing in this year’s tournament. All 16 have as legitimate a shot as any of the other 15 given how this tournament has gone.
Some have even made the point that there may be even more upsets if the first two rounds were held at neutral sites ala the men’s NCAA tournament. That may be true – and that may be a discussion for another time. As for now, the only question on the minds of many a women’s sports fan is simply …
How will the second weekend of March Madness 2022 top the first? The Sweet 16 and Elite Eight have a tough act to follow…