April 13, 2024

Rocky Topics: Lady Vols, South Carolina eyeing No. 1 seeds

This week on Rocky Topics, Cody McClure and Sam Forman debate whether the SEC can land multiple top seeds in the NCAA women’s tournament.

Co-written by Sam Forman

This week on Rocky Topics, Cody McClure and Sam Forman debate whether the SEC can land multiple top seeds in the NCAA women’s tournament. Essentially, the only two teams with a shot at a No. 1 seed are South Carolina and Tennessee. The Gamecocks are currently unbeaten (21-0, 9-0) and ranked No. 1 in the country. The Lady Vols (19-3, 9-0) are ranked No. 6 in the country.

Forman: South Carolina and Tennessee are two of the most complete teams in the country. South Carolina has size and depth and is one of the most dangerous teams in women’s basketball. Tennessee arguably has more size inside than anyone and has plenty of weapons capable of pulling the trigger from outside. The Lady Vols have the tougher of the two roads. They are currently ranked No.6, but with one win over South Carolina and another over Kentucky, they could escalate to a No. 1 seed. Let us not forget the Lady Vols were in this same position last year and got the No. 1 seed.

McClure: There’s no way the SEC will get two No. 1 seeds in the tournament. The reason is because Tennessee won’t have the resume. Sure, the Lady Vols have great size. Their rebounding has been superb, and they finally have a veteran squad capable of winning big games in the tournament. This could be year they finally get back to the Final Four. However, they’ll have to navigate that path as a No. 2 seed. Tennessee likely has a couple of losses left on their schedule with regular season bouts at Georgia, at home against Kentucky and of course – at South Carolina. All three opponents are ranked in the top 25. Their losses to Chattanooga and Texas aren’t bad losses, but they are bad enough to keep the Lady Vols from earning a No. 1 seed.

Forman: Tennessee’s resume will certainly be good enough. Yes, they have a difficult road ahead, but so do the five teams ahead of them. Baylor and Maryland still have games against top 25 opponents – as does Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have several top 15 opponents, including Duke and Louisville, left to play in addition to the ACC tournament. Tennessee has Kentucky at home which could favor the Lady Vols. They too have plenty of top 25 wins to claim and have the luxury of one of the most complete rosters in women’s basketball. Tennessee has the ability to score with anyone and a defense capable of shutting any team down.

McClure: You make a strong case by showing how the Lady Vols can move up, but they need help. The problem for Tennessee is that Connecticut and Baylor each have only one loss. Those two teams have almost secured a No. 1 seed – barring a disastrous finish down the stretch. Is it wise to bet on that happening? Geno Auriemma and Kim Mulkey are two of the best coaches in women’s basketball. The two teams behind them – Maryland and Notre Dame – each have only two losses. The Lady Vols are the highest ranked team with three losses, sitting at No. 6. It’s not unreasonable to think Tennessee has to win out to earn a No. 1 seed. One more slip up and the Lady Vols are a No. 2 seed at best.

Edited by Maggie Jones

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Sports Editor, Cody McClure, has been with TNJN since January 2014. He is passionate about SEC football and basketball. To him, there's nothing better in life than game day in Neyland Stadium. Cody covers the SEC for Athlon Sports. Additionally, he co-hosts Rock Solid Sports for WUTK 90.3 FM on Fridays from 7-8 p.m. ET. Cody is also interning at Sports Radio WNML working under Jimmy Hyams. In his spare time, he plays golf, travels the country, and plays guitar, badly. Follow him on Twitter @CodyMcClureCFB.