In a high-scoring affair, No. 7 Oregon leads No. 2 Iowa, 56-46, at the half. Luka Garza has 22 points already. Long way to go but if Garza and Iowa lose, the Big Ten will be down to Michigan and Maryland after starting the tournament with nine teams.
Apart from a dozen 3-foot-by-5-foot signs and a floor-length banner on one side of the court, it would be hard to tell that you are at an N.C.A.A. women’s tournament game in Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary’s University, where No. 14 seed Drexel is playing No. 3 seed Georgia in the first round. But neither team is undeterred by the setup, flip-flopping for the lead throughout the first half and tied going into the third quarter.
Rutgers might be able to steal its way to the next round.
Sixth-seeded Rutgers averages 12.6 steals per game, 19.9 forced turnovers, and 12 points off of steals. The Scarlet Knights’ opponent, No. 11 seed Brigham Young University, averages 14.4 turnovers per contest.
It’s a recipe for a potential steal-heavy contest.
“They pressure like no one else,” B.Y.U. Coach Jeff Judkins told reporters last week. “Their athletes are unbelievable. But we played against San Diego, which led the nation in turnovers. A couple of years ago we played Auburn and they’re similar. The size Rutgers has with their pressure, that’s a big challenge.”
Rutgers redshirt senior Arella Guirantes leads the Knights with 20.8 points per game but also 2.8 steals. Just six players average over 10 minutes per game, so if anything downs the Knights, it could be a lack of depth.
Their aggression on the turnovers has kept them from getting gassed, though, even with a shorter bench. Even if B.Y.U. believes its faced aggressive squads already, Rutgers lives and dies by the steal.
The matchup between No. 7 Oregon and No. 2 Iowa will be interesting in part because Oregon advanced directly to the second round after its opponent, Virginia Commonwealth, had to withdraw from the tournament because of multiple positive coronavirus tests.
The Ducks have not played in 10 days and of course, that leaves some questions as to how ready they will be. On the flip side, they should be well rested since their last game, a Pac-12 tournament semifinal loss to Oregon State. In the mean time, Iowa warmed up in the first round as it coasted past No. 15 Grand Canyon.
The Hawkeyes are led by one of the best players in the country, Luka Garza, who had 24 points and 6 rebounds against Grand Canyon. He is the anchor of Iowa’s offensive success and will be crucial against Oregon. The Ducks are a well-rounded team, with five players averaging at least 10 points per game.
Iowa and Oregon are both offense heavy teams, so expect this one to be a shootout.
When the dust had settled on Day 1 of the N.C.A.A. women’s tournament on Sunday, all 16 better seeds had advanced. That should hardly be surprising. Unlike the men’s tournament, which has a reputation for shocks, the women’s tournament almost always runs true to form.
Most basketball fans know that a No. 16 seed has beaten a No. 1 seed just once in both the men’s and women’s tournaments: the Harvard women over Stanford in 1998 and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County men over Virginia in 2018.
The discrepancy becomes stark after that. In the men’s tournament, No. 15 seeds win about 5 percent of their opening round games, and No. 14 seeds win at 15 percent. (This year No. 15 Oral Roberts beat Ohio State and then made the Sweet 16, and 14th-seeded Abilene Christian beat Texas.)
On the women’s side, no 14 or 15 seed has ever won a game, more than 200 total losses without a win.
The discrepancy continues up the seed ladder: For No. 13s, the men lead in upsets, 20 percent to 6 percent for the women. For No. 12 seeds, it’s 33 percent to 20 percent.
One reason for the increased edge for the many better-seed victories on the women’s side is the home field advantage that is usually bestowed on the top four seeds (the men’s games are played at neutral sites). Because all of this year’s women’s tournament is being held in and around San Antonio, there was hope that the first round might be a bit more, well, mad. There’s one day left for the women’s underdogs in the first round to buck history.