The 2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament tips off Friday. And the road to the championship may go through Texas. Although there are only three Lone Star State schools in the field of 64, you could make a strong case for each one’s title chances.
Baylor, Texas A&M, and the University of Texas at Austin are the three women’s basketball teams from Texas competing in this year’s tournament. Of that group, the team with the fewest losses is Baylor. This season the Lady Bears posted 31 wins against just one loss, and they won the Big 12 conference tournament. Despite almost going undefeated, they’re a 2-seed in the Big Dance, opening the tournament in Waco against 15-seeded Grambling State. The seeding doesn’t seem too important to Head Coach Kim Mulkey, who’s won two titles at Baylor. Here she is after the Big 12 Championship.
“Number one seed, number two seed…I think we’ve won a national championship as a two seed, we’ve won it as a one seed. I really don’t invest much time in trying to figure it out anymore. I just invest in the team, go play.”
Ninety minutes south of Waco, there will be another matchup between a 2, and a 15-seed when the Texas Longhorns welcome the University of Maine. Texas is coming off a loss in the Big 12 tournament final to Baylor, but still finished with a record of 26 and 6. And they are close to being among the very best, according to Head Coach Karen Aston.
“We’ve beaten some teams that are really really good. And I think we’re just a few situations away from being able to beat anybody in the country. But again you have to be able to do that, and I understand that.”
The Horns are used to playing at this time of the year. They’ve made the Big Dance five seasons in a row, although that doesn’t quite measure up to Texas A&M’s streak. The Aggies have 13 straight tournament berths, including a championship in 2011. And they’ve got a bright future, too. They’re led by USA Today Freshman of the Year Chennedy Carter, a guard from Mansfield who was the nation’s highest-scoring freshman this season. Carter guided the Aggies to 26 wins and nine losses. They’ll go for number 27 today in College Station against Drake University.