Women's basketball team receives No. 7 seed in NCAA tournament

The Orange play No. 10 seed Creighton in the opening round of the Oklahoma City bracket.

The NCAA released the bracket for the Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament tonight, placing the Syracuse Orange as a seven seed in the Oklahoma City region. The Orange (24-7, 11-5) face the tenth-seeded Creighton Lady Jays (24-7, 15-3) Tuesday, Mar. 23 in the first round.

The Orange received a fair seed after a solid season. Although Syracuse only won against one ranked opponent--the season finale win over Louisville--the team finished third in its conference and advanced to the semifinals of the Big East Tournament. Conversely, the Lady Jays tied for first place of the Missouri Valley Conference in the regular season, but was upset in the semifinals of its conference tournament.

Creighton is led by freshman Marissa Janning, who is averaging 13 points-per-game. Janning has been the sixth woman for Creighton most of the year, having started just nine games. Sarah Nelson, the team’s second leading scorer, is averaging 11.8 points-per-game on 50-percent shooting. She also grabs a team-leading 7.8 rebounds-per-game. As a team, the Lady Jays rely heavily on the three-point shot. Its 9.3 three-pointers made per game is tied for the most in Division I, and their 36.1 shooting percentage from beyond the arc ranks twelfth in the country.

Syracuse is a slight favorite heading into this matchup, indicative of the higher seeding. The Orange 2-3 zone also should limit Creighton’s three-pointers, as Syracuse held opponents to just 29.7 percent shooting from three-point range during the regular season. Syracuse also hold an advantage inside. The team has a 5.9 rebounding advantage per-game, while Creighton grabs 1.3 boards less than its opponent. Only Creighton’s 6-foot-3-inch Alyssa Kamphaus can compete with the size of 6-foot-4-inch Kayla Alexander. Alexander led the Orange during the season with 17.7 points-per-game and 8.7 rebounds-per-game.

The Orange is looking its first NCAA tournament victory in five appearances. If Syracuse gets by Creighton, the two-seeded Tennessee Volunteers will likely be waiting in the second round. The Lady Vols have the fourth highest scoring offense in the country, averaging 77.9 points-per-game. Slowing them down will be a tough task, but if the zone can do so, Syracuse would have a fighting chance to knock off their fellow orange-clad opponents and pull off a major upset.

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