Syracuse Orange Women NCAA Tournament Preview

The Syracuse Orange women will make history when they host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

The women's college basketball NCAA Tournament differs from the men's in a variety of ways. One major way is that the top four seeds in each region host the first two rounds. During Selection Monday, it was announced that Syracuse was the four seed in the Sioux Falls Region, meaning the Orange will play their first game games in the Carrier Dome. 

This is a first for the Syracuse women's basketball program, who had never had a seed high enough to have home games in the NCAA Tournament prior to this season. Syracuse finished 25-7 overall with a 13-3 regular season conference mark that was good enough for third in the loaded ACC. 

Syracuse will host the 13th seeded Army West Point Black Knights, who went an impressive 29-2 this year. That game will tip-off on Friday, March 18th at 2:30pm Eastern.

The Knights are led by guard Kelsey Minato, who averages nearly 24 points per game and is shooting over 48% from beyond the three-point arc. She also leads the team in assists at nearly four per game, leads the team in steals and is third in rebounding. Simply put, Minato does it all for Army. 

Army only has one other player that averages double figures in scoring. That would be senior center Aimee Oertner at 10.1 points per game. She also leads the team in rebounding at nearly seven per contest. Oertner is a big time shot blocker as well at over three per game. 

Safe to say that if Syracuse is going to survive round one, they will have to contain both Minato and Oertner on both ends. 

The Black Knights did not beat a ranked team all season, but did play a common opponent to the Orange. Both squads faced Duke. Syracuse dominated the Blue Devils by 36, while Army fell by double figures. 

Should Syracuse advance, they face the winner of Florida and Albany in the 5/12 matchup. That game would be for Syracuse to advance to the first Sweet-16 in program history. 

The Gators have two common opponents with Syracuse in Florida State and Tennessee. Florida lost to the 'Noles while Syracuse was victorious. The opposite was true with their matchups against the Volunteers. Florida is a balanced team with five players averaging between eight and 11 points per game. They are solid defensively, but not elite. 

A potential matchup with South Carolina (31-1) looms in the Sweet-16, the team that eliminated the Orange in the second round last season. 

USC is a tough squad who is strong on the inside with A'ja Wilson (16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 blocks) and Alaina Coates (11.6 points, 10.1 rebounds). They also have a sharp shooting guard in Tiffany Mitchell. South Carolina is a strong defensive team that will test the Orange should that matchup come to fruition. 

The good news for SU is they avoid UConn, who is the heavy favorite to repeat as National Champions. While a Final Four run will be difficult with the Gamecocks in front of them, it is less daunting than having to go through Connecticut. 

You can view the entire women's college basketball NCAA Tournament bracket HERE.

Stick with CuseNation.com for full coverage of the Syracuse Orange women's postseason efforts. 


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