Chalk has ruled the 2022 women's NCAA tournament. Even for a tournament where Cinderella runs by lower-seeded teams are rare, 2022 has been less madness and more of a march to the Final Four for top seeds.
The No. 10 seed Creighton Bluejays were just the fourth double-digit seed to reach the Elite Eight. The reward for history was a 30-point loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks, the No. 1 overall seed. The No. 3 seed Michigan Wolverines were the only other team that wasn't a No. 1 or No. 2 seed to reach the Elite Eight.
For all the success of high seeds, that doesn't mean our experts got everything right. ESPN's group of women's college basketball writers, commentators and analysts made their predictions shortly after the NCAA tournament field was announced on Selection Sunday. Here's what the 10 respondents got right -- and what they missed:
Lock in South Carolina and Stanford
The Gamecocks are trying to become the 12th team to go wire-to-wire ranked No. 1 to win a national title. So far, so dominant. South Carolina has won its tournament games by an average of 28 points.
It might have been the easiest prediction in the tournament. But it wasn't a sweep among ESPN's 10 experts, as Jay Bilas left the Gamecocks out of his Final Four.
Check your brackets
The Stanford Cardinal, the reigning national champions and a No. 1 seed, were the second-most predicted team. Eight of 10 panelists correctly had Stanford in the Final Four. With Lexie Hull averaging 22 points in the tournament and Cameron Brink seemingly blocking every shot in sight, Stanford is winning by an average of 20.5 points.
Welcome to the Brink Block Party. 👀 🚫— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) March 28, 2022
(1) @stanfordwbb leads (2) Texas, 48-42. #MarchMadness x @StanfordWBB pic.twitter.com/YvyjEP9s6p
🚫 Our own human eraser 🚫#GoStanford pic.twitter.com/H1atRuhI56— Stanford Women's Basketball (@StanfordWBB) March 29, 2022
South Dakota, the bracket wrecker
How about a howl for the Coyotes? Entering the tournament, South Dakota, a No. 10 seed, had never won an NCAA tournament game. Then it crushed its opponents in the first two rounds.
In the round of 32, South Dakota defeated the No. 2 seed Baylor Bears 61-47. The loss ended Baylor's streak of 68 consecutive home wins and the Bears' 12-year run of reaching at least the Sweet 16.
The Coyotes' win also guaranteed that the majority of our experts would not have perfect Final Fours, as seven out of 10 predicted the Bears to make it to Minneapolis.
Make the correct choice
Do you choose Paige Bueckers and the historical dominance of the UConn Huskies or see the No. 1 in front of the NC State Wolfpack? So tough! Picking the winner of the Bridgeport Region was the biggest split among the panelists -- six chose UConn and four picked NC State.
In the end it was the Huskies winning a double-overtime thriller against the Wolfpack. Bueckers had 27 points and she'll now return to her hometown as UConn coach Geno Auriemma will attempt to win his 12th national title.
All hail Brooke Weisbrod
The analyst is a former college player at Coastal Carolina and has been covering college basketball at ESPN since 2003. She's also the best prognosticator in 2022. Weisbrod is the only one of our experts to have a perfect Final Four.
"I make my picks in 10 seconds or less," Weisbrod said. "At this point of the season when the brackets come out, I trust my instincts and who's hot headed into the tourney, and hope for some luck."
She chose three No. 1 seeds, but instead of going chalk with all No. 1s, she picked UConn for one reason.
"If Paige Buckets is back, UConn is a threat, period."
Unlike the men's Final Four where a slew of upsets kept many of ESPN's panelists from having even two correct Final Four picks, there were far more successful guesses for the women's tournament. Seven of the 10 analysts had three correct predictions and nine of 10 could still nail their national champion pick.