The NCAA Tournament is upon us now, as the official bracket came out Sunday night. It is the time of year were legends are made, and upsets happen. Every year there are teams looking to make a name for themselves and upset higher seeds. When all is said and done, these might be two of them:
UNLV: 31-2 overall, 18-0 conference
The UNLV Lady Rebels will be the No.11 seed in the Greenville 2 Regional and will take on No. 6 Michigan Friday in Baton Rouge.
UNLV has a stellar overall record, is undefeated in conference, and hasn’t lost since Dec. 18. They are Mountain West regular-season and tournament champs, and thus, for them to be an 11th seed is straight-up disrespectful. Head coach Lindy La Rocque has down an outstanding job turning the program around in two years, as the Rebels score 77.2 points per game while giving up 62.4, and hold opposing teams to 39 percent shooting from the field.
Junior Desi-Rae Young leads the way, putting up 18.2 points and grabbing 10.2 rebounds per game. She also shoots 59 percent from the field and is dangerous in the low post. Essence Booker and Nneka Obiazor are also both double-digit scorers, at 13.2 and 12.4 points per game, respectively.
The Rebels also have some deadly shooters from the outside in Justice Ethridge and Alyssa Durazo-Frescas, as both shoot over 35 percent from beyond the arc. Look for them to run through their side of the bracket.
Sacramento State: 25-7 overall, 13-5 conference
Their Big Sky Tournament win means the Sacramento State Hornets will appear in their first NCAA Tournament in program history. Head coach Mark Campbell and his staff did a great job turning the program around quickly in two years, as the Hornets won just two games prior to Campbell’s arrival.
They begin play in the Greenville 1 regional by taking on host and 4th seed UCLA. The Hornets average 69.3 points per game and shoot 38 percent from three. They also defend at a high level, holding opponents to 38 percent shooting from the field.
Kahlaijah Dean leads the team in scoring with 21.1 points per game, and has scored 20 or more points 14 times this season, including three 30-plus point games. Isnelle Natbou is a force in the paint, averaging 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 64.2 points per game. Natabou has 13 double-doubles on the season.
Kaylin Randhawa and Katie Peneueta provide outside shooting a defense, while senior Jordan Olivares has come on of late, going on a scoring tear in the conference tournament.
Sacramento State has all the key elements to pull off an upset: a good scorer, a presence in the middle, three-point shooting, good defense, and great coaching.
If either, or both of these teams pull an upset, it wouldn’t be surprising.