No. 7 seed Arizona women's basketball will look to turn the ship around when they face No. 10 seed West Virginia University on Friday, March 17, at 9 a.m. in College Park, Maryland.
Three weeks ago, the Wildcats were coming off of a home weekend sweep of the No. 4 University of Utah and the No. 21 University of Colorado Boulder and were in the driver's seat to earn a top-4 seed in March. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they wound up dropping their final three games of the season, causing them to fall from a possible top-4 seed to a No. 7 seed.
Unfortunately, Arizona has a tough road to the Final Four, as they were placed in one of the tougher regions in the Greenville 1. Their region includes the overall No. 1 seed University of South Carolina, No. 2 seed University of Maryland, No. 3 seed University of Notre Dame and No. 4 seed UCLA. The top four seeds in the Greenville 1 region have a combined record of 107-20, which ranks second behind the Greenville 2 region which has a combined record of 108-14.
Previewing No. 10 West Virginia (19-11)
Arizona’s opening-round matchup will be against the No. 10 seed West Virginia Mountaineers, who enter the tournament with a record of 19-11. The Mountaineers started the season 12-4, but they played .500 basketball down the stretch, going 7-7. West Virginia was projected to be left out of the tournament by many experts, but the committee thought otherwise and awarded the Mountaineers with one of the final at-large bids.
The Mountaineers are led by senior guard Madisen Smith, sophomore guard JJ Quinerly, and senior guard Jayla Hemingway. Both Smith and Quinerly lead the team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game. Additionally, Smith leads the team with 3 assists per game, while Quinerly is second on the team, averaging 2.2 assists per game. Hemingway is second on the team in scoring averaging 9.3 points per game, while her 5.8 rebounds per game lead the team.
Over the last four games, Smith has been on a tear, averaging 23.75 points per game while shooting 56% from the field. Smith's hot play helped West Virginia go 3-1 in their final four games to sneak into the tournament.
Friday’s matchup will be only the second meeting between the two teams of all time. Their lone matchup back in 1982 saw the Wildcats defeat the Mountaineers 65-61. If Arizona defeats West Virginia on Friday, they will play the winner of the game between the No. 2 Maryland and the No. 15 College of the Holy Cross.
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