Sunday’s NCAA women’s tournament takeaways: Duke Blue Devils with Upset Win over Ohio State Buckeyes

Sunday’s NCAA women’s tournament takeaways: Duke pulls off first major upset
from Adam Gretz, with YardBarker.com/www.yardbarker.com

The second round of the NCAA women’s tournament kicked off on Sunday, and after a first round that mostly followed the chalk we finally had a huge, tournament-altering upset to open the second round.

Here are some takeaways from Sunday’s action.

LSU doesn’t look quite right yet
On one hand, the defending national champions are on to the Sweet 16 and beat Middle Tennessee State by 27 points on Sunday afternoon.

It’s hard to be really critical of any of that.

But something just seems off with the Tigers through the first two games of the tournament. Angel Reese has not looked as dominant as she did a year ago and the Tigers trailed at halftime before flipping the switch and running away with the game in the second half.

That came after a closer-than-expected win against No. 14 seed Rice in the first round and is enough to at least have some concern for them going into the Sweet 16. They will play the winner of Monday’s UCLA-Creighton game.

Kim Mulkey is still on the defensive
Speaking of LSU, head coach Kim Mulkey was again on the defensive on Sunday about an upcoming story in the Washington Post. It is still unclear what is in the story, who the paper spoke to, or what has been said, but Mulkey has been angry about it for two days now and continued after Sunday’s win.

The story is rumored to be released at some point this week.

Finally some upsets
The first round of the women’s tournament mostly followed the chalk, with 31 of the 32 games going to the higher-seeded team. It was the most “chalk” tournament since the NCAA expanded to 64 teams in 1994. The lone upset in the opening round was No. 11 seed Middle Tennessee State beating No. 6 seed Louisville by just two points.

That changed rapidly on Sunday when No. 7 seed Duke shocked No. 2 seed Ohio State 75-63 to advance to the Sweet 16.

No. 5 seed Colorado also pulled off a minor upset by beating No. 4 seed Kansas State to advance to its second straight Sweet 16.

South Carolina looks unstoppable
One team that did not get upset was No. 1 seed South Carolina. The Gamecocks continued their perfect season with an absolutely dominant 88-41 statement win over No. 8 seed North Carolina. With that win, South Carolina improved to 34-0 on the season and has won its first two NCAA tournament games by a combined margin of 179-80.

They haven’t even been close to being tested. Sunday’s game was such a big statement win because North Carolina actually kept the regular season meeting somewhat close (65-58). That was not the case on Sunday as the Gamecocks had five different players reach double-digits, including Milaysia Fulwiley with a game-high 20 points. Anything can happen in any one game in a single-elimination tournament, but it is getting increasingly more difficult to see somebody beating this team.

Texas simply does not utilize the three-point game
No. 1 seed Texas is on to the Sweet 16 after a 65-54 win over Alabama, but there is one big glaring weakness with the Longhorns that really stands out — they simply have no three-point game. They averaged just 11 3-point attempts per game during the regular season (fourth-lowest in the nation) and were just 1-for-5 from behind the arc on Sunday. It is hard to argue with the success the Longhorns have had this season in earning a No. 1 seed.

But it is worth wondering if they can win a national title against the teams it will have to get through without having that sort of presence in their game.

Duke’s Reigan Richardson having a breakout performance
The star of Duke’s upset win over Ohio State was junior Reigan Richardson with a 28-point performance to the lead way. She also added seven rebounds, an assist and three steals in the win.

She has been one of the biggest stars through the first two rounds of the tournament.

Sunday’s performance came after she recorded 25 points in Duke’s first-round win against Richmond.

Duke is one of the youngest teams in the tournament and is relying on Richardson’s experience to lead the way.

She is the first Duke player with 25 points in back-to-back tournament games since Alana Beard all the way back in the 2003 tournament.

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