NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Special on ESPN: Analysts Provide In-Depth Insights on Unveiling of the Field of 64

College Basketball - Women's

NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Special on ESPN: Analysts Provide In-Depth Insights on Unveiling of the Field of 64

Host Maria Taylor, analysts Rebecca Lobo and Andy Landers, reporter Holly Rowe and bracketologist Charlie Creme unveiled the bracket for the 2021 NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament tonight and provided insight and in-depth analysis of the field of 64 teams. Quotes and reactions from the NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Show Special Presented by Capital One (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET) and NCAA Women’s Selection Special Extended Coverage (8 p.m. ESPNU) are below.

ESPN’s coverage of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship begins Sunday, March 21, across ESPN networks. Full schedule will be unveiled in the coming days.

Comments About the Season:
Landers: “A lot of these players never went home. When COVID shut things down a year ago, a lot of them stayed on campus. They didn’t go home… just the sacrifices they’ve made at every level, the way that they’ve isolated themselves for basically a solid year from the rest of the world just so they could play a game. That’s the most important piece… they love playing this game. They’ve given up almost everything else for a solid year.”

Lobo: “This has been a unique year for student athletes, and all students on college campuses… There have been a bunch of huge sacrifices by these players and I’m glad we have a tournament so they can see it all come together.”

Mercado Region
Lobo on NC State: “NC State was ready to take that No. 1 seed. This is a team that has had some really big wins. They beat multiple No. 1-ranked teams throughout the course of the season. They win the ACC Championship. They beat Louisville on the way to doing that, and the committee told us how you play in the conference tournament is the best representation of how you’re playing now. They’re playing well now.”

Landers on Texas A&M: “This is a good basketball team.”

Taylor on Rutgers: “They are surging… C. Vivian Stringer really had her team rolling to close out the season. Rutgers’ defense led the Big Ten in opponent points per game, and that means that they’ll be a tough defense to go against.”

Hemisfair Region
Lobo on the Hemisfair: “This is a really tough region. You also have UCLA as your three-seed here. This one jumps out at you as it could potentially be a real interesting matchup if you go chalk with South Carolina and Maryland. Both teams won their conference tournament championships. Both teams are playing at a really high level. Maryland has six players in double figures. They come at you in waves. They wear you down on the offensive end of the floor. … This potential matchup in a regional final is pretty exciting.”

Landers on South Carolina: “One of the most talented teams in the country, no question about it. Young.  Still dominated by sophomores but playing at a very high level.”

Rowe on Aliyah Boston (South Carolina): “She is so beautiful to watch, her footwork in the post… she is one of the most talented players in the country. When you get her the ball in her spot, she can make things happen. Just so dynamic and so fun to watch.”

Landers on Maryland: “They run the basketball. They have great versatility and height on this team, so they can move people around and take advantage of mismatches.”

Alamo Region
Lobo on the Alamo region and Arkansas: “Watch out for any team that can get to the free throw line and make threes at a big clip. We saw their huge win over UConn earlier in the season when they were able to do both of those things. That’s a team to keep an eye on in the tournament.”

Landers on Stanford: “Tara VanDerveer, what can you say about her? All she does is win, take her team to the NCAA tournament and advance deep. Very deserving of a No. 1 seed again this year.”

Landers on Arkansas: “Woo Pig. This team can play. They can put points on the board. If you let Arkansas, they’ll put up 30 threes in a game. If you can’t guard them, they’ll go to the free throw line 30 times. This team is for real.”

Landers on Louisville: “Louisville has a lot of tools. They have an incredible player in Dana Evans in the back court. She can score at all three levels but moreover, she facilitates well for her teammates.”

Riverwalk
Rowe on Geno Auriemma testing positive for COVID-19: “No coach in history has had a greater impact in March than Geno Auriemma. He leads history with the most NCAA Championships… he said he’s feeling fine, he’s just very frustrated with the timing of this.”

Lobo on Baylor and the River Walk region: “The one thing you know when you watch Baylor – they are going to defend. Fourth year in a row they lead the nation in field goal percentage defense. They get to the offensive glass and defensively when they corral the rebound they are going to run on you. This is a team that gets glass. … Another team that can really defend, rebound and run.”

Landers on High Point: “They average over 10 threes a game and there are only four teams in this tournament that do that.”

Guests
Selection Committee Chair Nina King
On picking this field, considering all the obstacles this season:

“It was quite a year, and just so so exciting to be back in the selection room after last year’s horrible cancellation and really the year we’ve all had. This is really a testament to the student-athletes, who have done everything that we’ve asked of them – following health and safety protocols, mitigation measures… just doing everything possible to be able to practice and compete, and we’ve completed a season. Now, here we are. It’s so exciting to be able to announce the field today and welcome 64 teams to San Antonio this week.”

On seeding:

“We did have a lot of teams and a lot of discussion around who were the four that were just right for the 1-line. We started with the most recent top-16 reveal and what teams had done in between then and now, and who had played to move their way up or down. For us, NC State – they finished the season really strong… seeding is about how teams are playing now, and NC State really finished the season strong, and so we felt were really deserving on the spot on the one line.”

Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer
On the significance of the SEC Championship game, where Dawn Staley and Joni Taylor became the first Black women head coaches to meet in the title matchup:

“Tears came to my eyes as I watched both Dawn and Joni play for the SEC Championship. I said to my team the next day – ‘I don’t know if you recognize the significance of what just took place, because this was so special to have two Black females competing for the SEC Championship…’ It lets me know that we continue to grow, and with Dawn and Joni, who demonstrated such class and I was so proud of the way their players responded, with class and basketball intelligence… it was brilliant. I reached out to my team to tell them what it meant to me, as well as, I would hope that the young ladies all over the country recognize who these young women are and what they meant to us.”

Georgia Head Coach Joni Taylor
On her seniors taking greater leadership roles:

“We gave them a lot of responsibility and expectation for this moment, for getting Georgia basketball back in the national conversation. So we’ve put a lot of expectations on them and they’ve met every single ask with grace, with humility, and for all four of them to be in grad school speaks to who they are as people, not just basketball players. So when you have that type of leadership from the top down, it makes things a lot easier.”

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