Lady Bears to host NCAA tournament early rounds for 7th time in 8 years
The bad news? The Baylor Lady Bears didn’t get the No. 1 seed many thought they deserved, and enter this year’s NCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed.
The good news, however, is plentiful:
- Baylor gets to open the tournament at home for the 7th time in 8 years.
- The Lady Bears have experience making it through the tournament as a No. 2 seed. (Remember 2005?)
- BU is on the the opposite site of the bracket from No. 1 overall seed UConn, meaning the two teams wouldn’t meet until the national championship game.
- Three of ESPN’s four women’s basketball experts have Baylor reaching the Final Four, and two of the four have them in the title game. (Not surprisingly, UConn is the unanimous choice to win it all.)
- ESPN’s advanced stats give Baylor the third-best chance to win it all.
After sweeping the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles for the 7th time in 8 years, head coach Kim Mulkey’s squad will host SWAC tournament champion Grambling in the first round Friday (6:30 p.m., ESPN2). The winner of that game will face either Michigan or Northern Colorado on Sunday.
Grambling went just 19-13 in the regular season, but swept through the SWAC tournament to earn its first NCAA tournament bid since 1999. The Lady Tigers are led by All-SWAC first-team selection Shakyla Hill, who topped the team in points (17.1), rebounds (7.5), assists (5.7) and steals (4.9). Earlier this season, Hill became just the fourth woman in D-I history to record a quadruple-double.
Baylor enters the NCAA tournament with a 31-1 record, ranked No. 2 nationally and either first or second in the nation in points per game, margin of victory, rebound margin, field goal percentage, and field goal percentage defense. The Lady Bears are making their 15th straight NCAA tournament appearance; included in that run are three Final Fours (2005, 2010, 2012) and two national championships (2005 and 2012).
This year’s team is led by junior center Kalani Brown, a three-time (so far) 2018 All-American who also won Big 12 Player of the Year honors after averaging 20.2 points and 10.1 rebounds this season. Brown was one of four Baylor players to earn All-Big 12 honors; she, senior Kristy Wallace and sophomore Lauren Cox were all named to the first team, while Dekeiya Cohen was named honorable mention. Cox was also named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and Mulkey was named the league’s coach of the year for the sixth time.
Get your tickets now, and we’ll see you at the Ferrell Center!
Sic ’em, Lady Bears!