2019 NCAA women's basketball tournament -- Portland Regional preview

Portland is the region of unfinished business. Top seed Mississippi State seeks its first NCAA title, while 2-seed Oregon tries to reach its first Final Four. John Byrum/Icon Sportswire

Consider this the region of unfinished business.

Mississippi State, the No. 1 seed in the Portland Regional of the women's NCAA tournament, has reached the last two national championship games but is still looking for its first title. No. 2 seed Oregon has been to consecutive Elite Eights but has yet to reach the program's first Final Four.

The Bulldogs and Ducks, tied as the second-highest-scoring teams in the country (86.1 PPG), are heavy favorites to meet for the second time this season as both look to complete their respective journeys.

Should they both reach the regional final, Oregon will have the advantage in both proximity (the regional will be played less than two hours from campus) and recent history. The Ducks beat Mississippi State 82-74 in Eugene back in December, holding Teaira McCowan to five points. Oregon also has wins over three other Portland Regional participants: Arizona State, Syracuse and South Dakota State.

Three players to watch

Teaira McCowan, Mississippi State: Fans won't be the only ones keeping an eye on McCowan. Two or three defenders from any Mississippi State opponent should be expected to be very close to the 6-foot-7 All-America senior center. It likely won't matter. McCowan is the most unmovable force in the country, leading the nation in offensive rebounds per game (5.8). She is also sixth in field goal percentage (65.5 percent) and is a program-changing player who hopes to play in her third consecutive Final Four.

Satou Sabally, Oregon: Sabrina Ionescu rightfully gets the majority of the attention in Eugene, but Sabally, a 6-4 sophomore, could be a breakout star in the NCAA tournament. Her smooth lefty stroke produced a 42.0 3-point percentage, and her length makes her a mismatch that Oregon can take advantage of in any circumstance.

Tiana Mangakahia, Syracuse: The junior point guard led the nation in assists last year and was second this season (8.4 APG). If there was a stat for individual time of possession, Mangakahia might lead that too. A quintessential playmaker, she completely controls the ball for the Orange.

Best first-round game

No. 5 Arizona State vs. No. 12 UCF (ESPN2/ESPN App, 7 p.m. ET Friday): Fans of defense will love this game. Arizona State gives up 58.2 PPG -- and that is an explosion compared to what UCF opponents have managed (55.6 PPG). If the Knights are to pull the upset and win their first NCAA tournament game, their lone double-digit scorer, Kay Kay Wright (18.0 PPG), will have to deliver.

Best potential second-round game

No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 6 South Dakota State: Mangakahia might feel like she's looking in a mirror if she ends up face-to-face with the Jackrabbits' Macy Miller. These two point guards, who are the unquestioned on-court leaders of their teams, are gifted passers who can shoot and should help produce a high-scoring affair.

Picks to reach the Sweet 16

(1) Mississippi State, (2) Oregon, (4) Miami, (6) South Dakota State