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South Carolina or the rest of the field. Dawn Staley's defending national champion Gamecocks have looked unbeatable running the table this season at 32-0. So who might challenge South Carolina's supremacy at the NCAA tournament? Women's basketball writer Joe Vozzelli Jr. ranks the field from 1-68:

1. South Carolina (32-0)

NCAA Seed: No. 1 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 1

N-G preseason: 1

Why the Gamecocks can win it all: They're the best team in the land. Aliyah Boston is still elite at both ends of the floor (just watch how Boston frustrated LSU's Angel Reese during an 88-64 win by host South Carolina on Feb. 12). The supporting cast around Boston — led by Zia Cooke — has taken some of the pressure off last year's National Player of the Year to have to put up big numbers this winter.

Why they won't: South Carolina has a bad night every once in a while. Like needing overtime to escape with a win at Mississippi on Feb. 19. Or requiring a 12-point comeback and Stanford's Kiki Iriafen calling an overtime timeout when her team didn't have any left to outlast the host Cardinal, 75-71, in late November.

2. Indiana (27-3)

NCAA Seed: No. 1 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 5

N-G preseason: 15

Why the Hoosiers can win it all: Indiana has been knocking on the door the past few seasons of a Final Four with this core group. Veterans Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes have fit in nicely with transfer Sydney Parrish and freshman Yarden Garzon. Holmes entered the national player of the year conversation after shooting 68.8 percent from the field, which ranked second in Division I this season, and Berger — in her fifth season in Bloomington — has been the catalyst since returning in January after missing eight games with a knee injury.

Why they won't: Indiana isn't taking a ton of momentum into the NCAA tournament. The loss on a buzzer-beater in the Hoosiers' regular-season finale at Iowa can be ignored. Squandering a Big Ten tournament-tying 24-point lead in a semifinal loss to Ohio State, on the other hand, is cause for some concern.

3. Iowa (26-6)

NCAA Seed: No. 2 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 6

N-G preseason: 4

Why the Hawkeyes can win it all: Because Caitlin Clark is the best player in women's college basketball. The 6-foot senior with Stephen Curry-like range put up 27.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game with a shooting slash of 47/38/83. Clark can't do it alone, though, and how Iowa won the Big Ten tournament showed as much with Monika Czinano, McKenna Warnock, Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin a big part of the Hawkeyes knocking out Purdue, Maryland and Ohio State en route to the title in Minneapolis.

Why they won't: They don't play defense. Not at a high level at least. Iowa ranks 315th in scoring defense and 171st in field-goal percentage defense.

4. Connecticut (29-5)

NCAA Seed: No. 2 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 2

N-G preseason: 3

Why the Huskies can win it all: They're finally healthy. Well, sort of. Paige Bueckers has been out since a preseason knee injury. But Azzi Fudd's return for the Big East tournament was a shot in the arm for UConn. Fudd averaged modest numbers (8.3 points) across the three games as the Huskies rolled to another Big East tourney title. Getting Fudd back in a groove (only 12 games played after twice injuring her knee) to pair with Caroline Ducharme, Lou Lopez Sénéchal and Aaliyah Edwards is the key, as last year's runner-up UConn aims to make another deep March run.

Why they won't: A lack of playing time together due to injuries might trip up the Huskies in March. Especially with the other top national contenders ahead of UConn from a team chemistry standpoint.

5. Stanford (28-5)

NCAA Seed: No. 1 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 4

N-G preseason: 2

Why the Cardinal can win it all: Tara VanDerveer is the all-time winningest coach in women's basketball and a three-time national champion. Stanford is still among the favorites to reach the Final Four in Dallas with forward Cameron Brink and guard Haley Jones both players VanDerveer can rely upon in crunch time.

Why they won't: It's been a somewhat contradictory season for the Cardinal. Stanford's offense has sputtered at times. Like a nearly scoreless first quarter at Colorado (double-overtime win) and finishing with only 46 points at Southern California (loss). The overall numbers are good with the Cardinal the fifth-best offense in terms of efficiency, according to

6. Virginia Tech (27-4)

NCAA Seed: No. 1 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 9

N-G preseason: 14

Why the Hokies can win it all: Virginia Tech enters the Big Dance on a hot streak (11 straight wins) behind the outstanding play of center Elizabeth Kitley and the emergence of Georgia Amoore, who hit an ACC tournament record 14 three-pointers. Just as impressive was how the Hokies held Miami, Duke and Louisville to a combined 146 points in three games to win the program's first ACC tourney title.

Why they won't: Virginia Tech hasn't made it out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament since 1999. The Hokies were one-and-done last season, stumbling in the NCAA first round against Florida Gulf Coast in College Park, Md.

7. Maryland (25-6)

NCAA Seed: No. 2 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 14

N-G preseason: 11

Why the Terrapins can win it all: Diamond Miller can score the ball in a variety of ways, Abby Meyers has played a hybrid-guard role after transferring in from Princeton and Shyanne Sellers has turned into a star. Maryland is a matchup problem with a plethora of wing players and a switch-heavy scheme on defense.

Why they won't: The Terrapins have had some inexplicable performances. A blowout home loss to Nebraska in early December and a Thanksgiving weekend loss to DePaul in Fort Myers, Fla., top that list.

8. LSU (28-2)

NCAA Seed: No. 3 (Greenville 3 Regional)

NET: 3

N-G preseason: 19

Why the Tigers can win it all: A tough game at South Carolina aside, Reese has been the most game-changing transfer in the nation this winter with a slew of double-doubles. First Team All-SEC selection Alexis Morris — the only returning starter from last season's team — might determine how far LSU goes during March Madness, however.

Why they won't: Their schedule wasn't very good. The Tigers have yet to show they can win several games against high-level competition. With both teams undefeated at the time, South Carolina won by 24 against LSU. The Tigers also got bounced from the SEC tournament in the semifinals by an unranked Tennessee team after watching a 17-point lead slip away.

9. Utah (25-4)

NCAA Seed: No. 2 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 7

N-G preseason: 27

Why the Utes can win it all: They are one of the best stories of the season, sharing the regular-season Pac-12 title with Stanford after Utah was picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll. Southern California transfer Alissa Pili arrived in Salt Lake City with tempered expectations only to develop into a dominant inside force, averaging 20.3 points on 58.5 percent shooting.

Why they won't: They are in a tough regional with both top-seed Indiana and No. 3 seed LSU as potential second-weekend games. Depending on the health of Diamond Johnson (hasn't played since Feb. 16 due to an ankle injury), North Carolina State might be a dangerous second-round matchup.

10. Texas (25-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 4 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 11

N-G preseason: 5

Why the Longhorns can win it all: They're one of the best defensive teams in the country. Texas led the Big 12 in scoring defense (57.9 points allowed per game) and also averaged 5.7 blocks per game. Point guard Rori Harmon drives the bus for the Longhorns on the defensive end, posting 60 steals in the regular season.

Why they won't: Texas really doesn't have a go-to option on offense. It's a by-committee approach. The loss to Iowa State in the championship game of the Big 12 tournament when the Longhorns shot 33.3 percent — 3 of 14 from beyond the arc — exposed some of those flaws.

11. Villanova (28-6)

NCAA Seed: No. 4 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 12

N-G preseason: 30

Why the Wildcats can win it all: Maddy Siegrist. The senior forward is the nation's leading scorer at 28.9 points per game and had a 50-point outburst in a February win against Seton Hall.

Why they won't: Villanova hasn't been to the Sweet 16 since 2003. The Wildcats were 0-2 against Power Five teams this season, albeit by a total of 17 points in nonconference games with Iowa State and Baylor. Villanova also lost all three matchups to UConn, including a 67-56 defeat in last week's championship game of the Big East tournament.

12. Iowa State (22-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 5 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 13

N-G preseason: 6

Why the Cyclones can win it all: Their title in the Big 12 tournament was perhaps a precursor for the Big Dance. Ashley Joens was the linchpin with the 6-foot-1 senior wing averaging 26.7 points and 11.0 rebounds, as Iowa State defeated Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas all by 10 or more points in Kansas City, Mo.

Why they won't: The selection committee did the Cyclones no favors with Iowa State having to beat 4-seed Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., just to earn a place in the Sweet 16.

13. Duke (25-6)

NCAA Seed: No. 3 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 10

N-G preseason: 43

Why the Blue Devils can win it all: Celeste Taylor has made Duke one of the toughest defensive units in the country. It's the reason the Blue Devils went from finishing 10th in the ACC standings last season to the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament in year three under coach Kara Lawson.

Why they won't: Duke is one of the worst shooting teams in the country, barely shooting above 40 percent from the field. All six of the Blue Devils' losses saw Duke score 57 or fewer points.

14. Louisville (23-11)

NCAA Seed: No. 5 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 20

N-G preseason: 12

Why the Cardinals can win it all: Hailey Van Lith is very good. You can also never count out a Jeff Walz-coached team. It's been an up-and-down season after Louisville was the preseason pick to win the ACC coming off last year's trip to the Final Four. Dominant wins against Wake Forest and Notre Dame at the ACC tourney with the Cardinals eventually losing to Virginia Tech in the title game gives Louisville some confidence.

Why they won't: It takes six straight wins to cut down the nets and Louisville hasn't won that many in a row since December. Three of the wins during that streak came against SIU Edwardsville, Bellarmine and Pittsburgh. Not exactly NCAA-caliber competition.

15. UCLA (25-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 4 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 22

N-G preseason: 22

Why the Bruins can win it all: UCLA has been its best when freshman Kiki Rice is playing well. That was evident when the 5-foot-11 guard had 22 points, five rebounds and five assists in the Bruins' fourth-quarter comeback win against Stanford in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament.

Why they won't: UCLA wouldn't have been happy to be in the same regional as South Carolina. The Sweet 16 is as far as this run goes for the Bruins.

16. Ohio State (25-7)

NCAA Seed: No. 3 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 16

N-G preseason: 10

Why the Buckeyes can win it all: Jacy Sheldon's return from injury gives Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff a different dynamic. Figuring out how to best utilize freshman Cotie McMahon now that Sheldon is back in the lineup is a good problem to have for McGuff.

Why they won't: The 33-point loss to Iowa in the Big Ten tournament title game is hard to ignore. And the fact Rebeka Mikulasikova has only scored in double figures in two of the last 12 games after a fast start to the season for both the senior forward and the Buckeyes as a whole.

17. Michigan (22-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 6 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 26

N-G preseason: 23

Why the Wolverines can win it all: Despite losing one of the best players in program history in Naz Hillmon to the WNBA draft after reaching the Elite Eight, Michigan has been solid all year, thanks to Leigha Brown (18.0 ppg), Laila Phelia (16.9) and Emily Kiser (16.2).

Why they won't: Michigan was winless against the top-four teams in the Big Ten standings (Indiana, Iowa, Maryland and Ohio State). A second-round loss to LSU looks like a plausible ending to the season for Kim Barnes Arico's team.

18. Tennessee (23-11)

NCAA Seed: No. 4 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 15

N-G preseason: 7

Why the Volunteers can win it all: Jordan Horston and Rickea Jackson are both projected first-round picks in the WNBA draft. So the NCAA tournament could be their chance to shine.

Why they won't: The Volunteers were 1-8 against AP Top 25 opponents this season. Playing a tough schedule led to Tennessee's high seed. Whether Kellie Harper's team can show it deserved a top-16 seed will be answered shortly.

19. Oklahoma (25-6)

NCAA Seed: No. 5 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 38

N-G preseason: 9

Why the Sooners can win it all: Oklahoma can score with anybody in the country. The Sooners, after all, ranked second nationally in both scoring offense (85.2) and assists per game (20.9) and also led the Power Five conferences in made three-pointers (pouring in 9.0 a game).

Why they won't: Oklahoma got blown out twice by Texas in the regular season and went 1-2 against Iowa State, which included a loss to the Cyclones in Saturday's Big 12 semifinal game.

20. North Carolina (21-10)

NCAA Seed: No. 6 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 21

N-G preseason: 16

Why the Tar Heels can win it all: North Carolina is at full strength with starters Alyssa Ustby and Eva Hodgson in the fold. That the Tar Heels won the Phil Knight Invitational in November after beating Iowa State in the championship game showed where the ceiling is for this team.

Why they won't: Losing a 44-40 rock fight against Duke in the ACC tournament quarterfinals on March 3 isn't the kind of performance you want to have before a two-week layover ahead of the NCAA tournament.

21. Baylor (19-12)

NCAA Seed: No. 7 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 32

N-G preseason: 18

22. Washington State (23-10)

NCAA Seed: No. 5 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 30

N-G preseason: 44

Why the Cougars can win it all: Washington State — led by Charlisse Leger-Walker from New Zealand and Bella Murekatete from Rwanda — defeated No. 2 seed Utah, No. 3 seed Colorado and No. 5 seed UCLA en route to a Pac-12 tournament title. Repeat that run and you never know.

Why they won't: Two cross-country trips is pretty brutal. The Cougars will play their first- and potential second-round games in Villanova, Pa. (2,127 miles) and have to head back east for the second weekend of the tournament in Greenville, S.C. (1,977 miles).

23. Florida State (23-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 7 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 24

N-G preseason: 47

24. Arizona (21-9)

NCAA Seed: 7 (Greenville 1)

NET: 27

N-G preseason: 24

Why the Wildcats can win it all: An all-senior starting five has been here before, including finishing as the national runner-up in 2021. Shaina Pellington, Cate Reese and Helena Pueyo give Arizona an opportunity to go deep in the postseason.

Why they won't: The Wildcats are 12-3 at McKale Center in Tuscon. A bad finish to the season cost Arizona a chance to host the first and second rounds. That means the Wildcats will have to do something they really haven't done all year: Beat a quality team (2-seed Maryland) at their place.

25. Notre Dame (25-5)

NCAA Seed: No. 3 (Greenville 1)

NET: 8

N-G preseason: 8

Why the Irish can win it all: Notre Dame's chances to do anything big at the NCAA tournament come down to Olivia Miles' health. It's really that simple for Niele Ivey's team. Ivey hasn't provided much in the way of updates since Miles injured her knee in the Irish's regular-season finale with the likely All-American guard sitting out the entire ACC tournament.

Why they won't: Injuries preclude a meaningful NCAA tournament run.

26. North Carolina State (20-11)

NCAA Seed: No. 7 (Greenville 2)

NET: 17

N-G preseason: 13

27. Colorado (23-8)

NCAA Seed: No. 6 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 23

N-G preseason: 46

28. Gonzaga (28-4)

NCAA Seed: No. 9 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 44

N-G preseason: 34

29. Middle Tennessee (28-4)

NCAA Seed: No. 11 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 28

N-G preseason: 59

30. Mississippi (23-8)

NCAA Seed: No. 8 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 25

N-G preseason: 39

31. South Florida (26-6)

NCAA Seed: No. 8 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 35

N-G preseason: 41

32. Southern California (21-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 8 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 31

N-G preseason: 155

33. Alabama (20-10)

NCAA Seed: No. 10 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 29

N-G preseason: 42

34. Illinois (22-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 11 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 41

N-G preseason: 173

Why the Illini can win it all: Bottle up the magic from the New Year's Day win against Iowa. Rinse, repeat. Creighton got to the Elite Eight last season as a No. 10 seed. Can Illinois follow a similar path as a double-digit seed? Maybe. The four-team pod the Illini are in with ironically enough the Bluejays, Mississippi State and host Notre Dame at least offers an opening for a motivated Illinois team to reach the tournament's second weekend.

Why they won't: Illinois was 1-7 against NCAA tournament teams this season. That might not bode well for March Madness success.

35. Creighton (22-8)

NCAA Seed: No. 6 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 18

N-G preseason: 25

Why the Bluejays can win it all: The Bluejays are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, pouring in 9.4 made three-pointers per game, which ranked fourth nationally. Lauren Jensen, Morgan Maly and Emma Ronsiek — key players from last year's surprise NCAA run — have been been a big part of Creighton earning its highest-ever NCAA seed in program history.

Why they won't: The live by the three, die by the three basketball adage. Creighton has the tendency to fall in love with the three-point shot (five games with 28 or more attempts from beyond the arc). They went 0-5 in those games.

36. Purdue (19-10)

NCAA Seed: No. 11 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 49

N-G preseason: 74

Why the Boilermakers can win it all: They're able to control the pace and keep the score is in the 60s. Former Illini guard Jeanae Terry fits perfectly with what coach Katie Gearlds wants to do. Purdue also needs the same version of Lasha Petree from the final month of the regular season.

Why they won't: Two many troubling losses (read: Penn State and Minnesota) to put a lot of faith in this team.

37. West Virginia (19-11)

NCAA Seed: No. 10 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 60

N-G preseason: 82

38. Mississippi State (20-10)

NCAA Seed: No. 11 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 39

N-G preseason: 61

39. Marquette (21-10)

NCAA Seed: No. 9 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 42

N-G preseason: 63

40. Oklahoma State (21-11)

NCAA Seed: No. 8 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 46

N-G preseason: 165

41. Miami (19-12)

NCAA Seed: No. 9 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 50

N-G preseason: 36

42. South Dakota State (28-5)

NCAA Seed: No. 9 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 34

N-G preseason: 29

43. Princeton (23-5)

NCAA Seed: No. 10 seed (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 40

N-G preseason: 28

Why the Tigers can win it all: Look no further than last year's tournament when Princeton sent No. 1 WNBA draft pick Rhyne Howard and Kentucky home before a 1-point loss to Indiana.

Why they won't: The bottom half of the regional is loaded, and N.C. State is a tricky first-round matchup.

44. Georgia (21-11)

NCAA Seed: No. 10 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 33

N-G preseason: 26

45. St. John’s (22-8)

NCAA Seed: No. 11 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 55

N-G preseason: 241

46. UNLV (31-2)

NCAA Seed: No. 11 Greenville 2 Regional

NET: 51

N-G preseason: 73

Why the Rebels can win it all: They have at least one thing in common with top overall seed South Carolina. UNLV, South Carolina, Cleveland State and Florida Gulf Coast are the only four 30-game winners in the field.

Why they won't: There's a reason the Rebels had to win the Mountain West tournament's auto NCAA bid just to make the field: The league wasn't very good this winter.

47. Portland (23-8)

NCAA Seed: No. 12 Greenville 1 Regional

NET: 79

N-G preseason: 78

48. Toledo (28-4)

NCAA Seed: No. 12 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 67

N-G preseason: 62

49. Florida Gulf Coast (32-3)

NCAA Seed: No. 12 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 36

N-G preseason: 52

50. Drake (22-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 12 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 52

N-G preseason: 151

Why the Bulldogs can win it all: They took Iowa to overtime (before ultimately losing) in mid-November in Des Moines and Drake's high-octane offense — which features six players that average nine or more points — rolled past 1-seed Illinois State and 2-seed Belmont by a combined 38 points on consecutive days at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

Why they won't: 12-seeds are 29-112 all-time in the NCAA women's tournament. Only twice has a 12-seed moved on to the Sweet 16 and never further.

51. Saint Louis (17-17)

NCAA Seed: No. 13 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 135

N-G preseason: 253

52. East Carolina (23-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 13 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 90

N-G preseason: 257

53. James Madison (26-7)

NCAA Seed: No. 14 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 101

N-G preseason: 122

54. Cleveland State (30-4)

NCAA Seed: No. 13 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 69

N-G preseason: 113

55. Southern Utah (23-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 14 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 133

N-G preseason: 129

Why the Thunderbirds can win it all: Because they have a really cool nickname. And who wouldn't want to see a championship parade through the streets of Cedar City, Utah?

Why they won't: A No. 14 seed has never won an NCAA women's tournament game.

56. Sacramento State (25-7)

NCAA Seed: No. 13 (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 86

N-G preseason: 224

57. Hawaii (18-14)

NCAA Seed: No. 14 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 147

N-G preseason: 130

58. Gardner-Webb (29-4)

NCAA Seed: No. 15 seed (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 137

N-G preseason: 246

59. Iona (26-6)

NCAA Seed: No. 14 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 149

N-G preseason: 259

60. Chattanooga (20-12)

NCAA Seed: No. 16 seed (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 165

N-G preseason: 323

61. Holy Cross (24-8)

NCAA Seed: No. 15 seed (Greenville 1 Regional)

NET: 155

N-G preseason: 162

62. Vermont (25-6)

NCAA Seed: No. 15 (Seattle 3 Regional)

NET: 143

N-G preseason: 157

63. Tennessee Tech (22-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 16 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 169

N-G preseason: 154

64. Southeastern Louisiana (21-9)

NCAA Seed: No. 15 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 159

N-G preseason: 222

65. Monmouth (18-15)

NCAA Seed: No. 16 (Greenville 2 Regional)

NET: 220

N-G preseason: 255

66. Southern (18-14)

NCAA Seed: No. 16 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 257

N-G preseason: 277

67. Sacred Heart (18-13)

NCAA Seed: No. 16 (Seattle 4 Regional)

NET: 258

N-G preseason: 316

68. Norfolk State (26-6)

NCAA Seed: No. 16 (Greenville Regional 1)

NET: 163

N-G preseason: 217

Joe Vozzelli

Sports Copy Editor

Joe Vozzelli Jr. is a sports copy editor at The News-Gazette. His email is