February 15, 2024 

NCAA DI Women’s Basketball Committee reveals its current top 16

South Carolina, Stanford, Colorado, Ohio State would be no. 1 seeds

The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee released their current top 16 teams on Thursday, the first of two pre-Selection Sunday bracket reveals for the 2023-24 season. The top-four seeds in each of the four regions were unveiled on ESPN2 moments before the South Carolina Gamecocks — the committee’s No. 1 team — played the Tennessee Lady Vols in a game televised on ESPN.

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In addition to South Carolina, the Ohio State Buckeyes, Stanford Cardinal and Colorado Buffaloes were the three No. 1 seeds, split between the two regional sites of Portland and Albany.

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“One of the things that we looked at was the quality of wins and losses, but also how many people really challenged themselves when they were outside of a non-conference schedule,” committee chairperson Lisa Peterson said in an interview on ESPN2. “You can decide how difficult your conferences, but you can determine your non-conference so that’s something that we always look at. But, when you when you look at some of the teams that we have the we struggled the most with, then you have to take it point by point as to what something that separates them because it is so tight.”

In the Albany 1 regional, South Carolina was joined by No. 7 UCLA Bruins, No. 12 UConn Huskies and No. 16 Louisville Cardinals. South Carolina has maintained a perfect 24-0 (11-0 SEC) record this season, earning them the unanimous No. 1 seed.

Joining No. 2 Stanford in the Portland 2 regional is the No. 8 Texas Longhorns, No. 11 Oregon State Beavers and No. 15 Indiana Hoosiers. Last month, Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer passed former longtime Duke men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski to become the winningest coach in college basketball history with her 1,203rd victory. She’s now at 1,208.

In the Albany 3 regional with Ohio State was No. 6 NC State Wolfpack, No. 9 USC Trojans and No. 14 LSU Tigers. As the reigning national champions, LSU has had an up-and-down season relative to expectations, starting with getting upset in the season opener by Colorado. The Tigers are currently 21-4 with an 8-3 SEC record — though it is worth pointing out that they were a No. 3 seed when they won the title last year.

To round off the bracket, the Portland 4 Regional would see Colorado joined by No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes, No. 10 Virginia Tech Hokies and No. 13 Kansas State Wildcats. While they aren’t the top seed in this bracket, perhaps no team will be more watched than Iowa, thanks to global superstar Caitlin Clark. On Thursday, the senior guard broke the NCAA Division I scoring record, passing former Washington Huskies star and current Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum in the first quarter with a remarking 3-pointer from near the mid-court logo. Clark finished Thursday’s record-breaking game by tallying another record, scoring an Iowa school record 49 points.

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Peterson also broke down some specific seeding items for the bracket this year, discussing how the top overall seed will now be guaranteed to play its second weekend games on a Friday-Sunday schedule instead of a Saturday-Monday game, giving the top seed an extra day of rest. Peterson also made note of just how far ahead the current No. 1 seed, South Carolina, is from the field.

“One the gap between one and two is really big; two through five is very small,” Peterson said. “One of the things that we look at when we are putting together this bracket is a consideration that came from the women’s basketball coaches. They wanted us to look at the possibility of having the No. 1 overall seed have the day of rest guaranteed. So be on a Friday, Sunday regional. And so we were able to go through all the different things that was one of the things that we did put in place. So if it were to end today, South Carolina would be on a Friday, Sunday regional so that they do have an extra day rest.”

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But the biggest takeaway from Thursday night was the five teams from the Pac-12 Conference — and not just five of the top 16, but five of the top 11. It’s a sign of just how competitive the conference has been in the final season of the Pac-12 before 10 of the 12 schools leave for different conferences. But Peterson said having that many ranked so highly, though, does create some seeding challenges. She also addressed the fact that one Pac-12 team, Oregon State. could be playing regional games very close to home.

“When it comes to our bracketing principles, you have to put the first four from a conference in the top four lines into different regional,” Peterson said. “So that’s why you see the spread of the Pac-12 schools the way that they were but then when you get to that fifth seed, all bets are in and it just depends on what you do with the rest of the teams in the line. So those were the things that we looked at and then you see Oregon State at Portland and yes, they are hosting that regional, but the policy is that they play less than three regular season games in that facility, then they have the right to play in that region.”

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The second top 16 reveal will take place on Thursday, Feb. 29, on ESPN2 at 6:30 p.m. EST, right before Notre Dame and Virginia Tech play a big ACC contest. That will just be another appetizer before the main event, with the full 68-team bracket revealed on Selection Sunday — which comes on March 17 at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN.

Written by Aya Abdeen

Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next since December 2022. She is also a sports reporter for the Sun Devils’ women’s basketball team for The State Press. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.

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