NCAA Sacramento Region Breakdown
Sacramento Region Breakdown by ESPN Analyst (Peck, Lawson, Lobo & Burke)
By Graham Hays
Where’s the best place to be for the first two rounds?
Seattle isn’t a bad place to spend four days any week of the year, but it’s an especially inviting destination for women’s basketball fans this year. A first-round game between Texas A&M and Portland State might offer a chance to sneak away and check out the nearby Experience Music Project downtown, or at least take in nearby Lake Washington, but the rest of the slate should keep people content inside Bank of America Arena.
The other first-round game between No. 7 Gonzaga and No. 10 North Carolina has both the storylines and the style to be among the opening round’s best. Both teams like to get out and run, and Gonzaga’s Courtney Vandersloot is going to have plenty of opportunities to show why she leads the nation in assists (for what it’s worth, Portland State’s Claire Faucher is fifth in the same category). On top of the action on the court, the game offers a chance for a flagship mid-major program to get a win as a favorite against one of the sport’s biggest names and most questionable at-large selections after a suspect finish in the ACC.
It’s an NCAA tournament game Gonzaga should win, and that in itself is a statement.
Whatever happens in that game, the probable second-round encounter with Texas A&M should offer an intriguing finish to the weekend. Gonzaga’s furious second-half rally against Texas A&M on a neutral court in Las Vegas the week before Christmas nearly erased a 19-point halftime deficit. The Bulldogs didn’t complete that comeback, but they haven’t lost since, winning their final 18 games by double-digit margins and each of their final six games by at least 28 points. And whether or not name value ought to count, a North Carolina-Texas A&M meeting would draw eyes and make a few people wonder if maybe these Tar Heels aren’t a lost cause after all.