Women's March Madness: Re-ranking every team in the Sweet 16

The Sweet 16 for Women's March Madness has been set! Now that we've seen the teams in action, how do they all stack up?

Connecticut v Syracuse
Connecticut v Syracuse / Joe Buglewicz/GettyImages

This year's Women's NCAA Tournament has been far from disappointing. While Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes have been the focus of the hype, many other teams are proving why they belong in the Sweet 16 this year.

No. 7 seed Duke pulled off an impressive upset against the No. 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes to advance to the Sweet 16. Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Virginia Tech continued to struggle without Elizabeth Kitley and ended its season in a tight battle against No. 5 seed Baylor.

Some teams were expected to be farther away, just like No. 5 seed Colorado Boulder, who are on a run. Along with the thrilling OT win that No. 2 seeded Stanford came out of alive against No. 7 Iowa State.

And while many are easy to believe that Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes are flying by teams, they had a harder time against West Virginia.

Nothing is predictable at this point in March, but here are the top 16 teams left to win it all.

1. South Carolina (No. 1)

After Sunday's second-round victory over North Carolina, Dawn Staley said it was the Gamecocks' best performance in a long time. The Gamecocks defeated the Tar Heels 88-41, the 47-point win is the largest margin of victory over a Power 5 opponent this season.

With the Gamecocks continuing to play at this elite level, it's hard to picture any team stopping them in this run.

Freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley has been the team's star this post-season as she was the MVP of the SEC tournament and has led South Carolina in scoring in three of its past four games.

Along with Fulwiley, they are also supported by veterans Kamilla Cardoso and Te-Hina Paopao, who were the stars during the regular session and have continued to dominate.

2. USC (No. 1)

The Trojans are back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1994 in what has been a legendary season for the program already. Freshman phenom Juju Watkins continues to excel, and her 28 points on Sunday night proved it. Watkins also clinched the third-most points in a season for a freshman in Division I history with 861 points.

USC did struggle with Kansas' zone defense, but once they figured out how to break it, they pulled away. The team went 13-30 from long range and had a strong defensive performance, holding the Jayhawks to 55 points.

Clarice Akunwafo was also a highlight against Kansas. She was a difference-maker with nine rebounds, six blocks, and three steals, and her interior defense supported the Trojans most in the second half.

McKenzie Forbes has also put together three consecutive 20-point games, and if she and Watkins continue to play like this on the floor together, the Trojans can go far.

3. Texas (No. 1)

Even after Rori Harmon's injury, Madison Booker stepped up and has used her basketball IQ to lead this Longhorn team. In the first-round game against Drextel, she dished 14 assists, and in the second-round win against Alabama, she dropped 21 points.

The strong trait of the Longhorns is their defensive efforts. They play really tough and physical defense. This team also has athletes who are unteachable.

In the second-round victory over Alabama, Texas had edges of 45-34 in rebounds, 23-13 in second-chance points, 34-22 in points in the paint, and 11-2 in blocks, proving their size and abilities make them stand out.

4. Iowa (No. 1)

The Hawkeyes faced their first challenge in the second round against West Virginia, as it was just the fourth win in 12 games in which Iowa scored less than 70 points in a tight matchup that led into the final minutes.

Caitlin Clark put up a hard-fought 32 points and equaled her season-low with just three assists from the Mountaineers' tough defensive efforts.

While this wasn't a game we have seen from the Hawkeyes in a while, their next opponent, Colorado, represents yet again another veteran and physical team. However, it is the same matchup we saw in last year's Sweet 16.

5. Stanford (No. 2)

This is looking like an entirely new Stanford team compared to last season. But on Sunday, the Cardinals were led by Kiki Iriafen, who carried Stanford to its 29th Sweet 16 with 41 points and 16 rebounds.

When their top player Cameron Brink, was in foul trouble and failed in the scoring department with only eight points, the Cardinals rallied together and got a hard-fought overtime win over Iowa State.

Led by legendary coach Tara VanDerveer, the talented team showed how they can be tested to the wire and still come out alive late.

6. UConn (No. 2)

Paige Bueckers is coming off an ACL surgery that sidelined her for the last season and is having a commanding season, averaging 30 points on 56.8 percent shooting so far in the tournament. Head coach Geno Auriemma said on Sunday that no player is player better in the postseason than Bueckers.

The Huskies also have WNBA-bound Aaliyah Edwards who has been averaging 17.6 points and 9.4 rebounds on the season.

This will be the Huskies' 30th straight Sweet 16. With Ohio State losing to Duke, the Huskies could be on a run to return to the Final Four.

7. Notre Dame (No. 2)

Currently, Notre Dame may be one of the hottest teams in this group. They are on a 10-game winning streak and have controlled every game since the ACC Tournament.

The big three of Hannah Hidalgo, Maddy Westbeld, and Sonia Citron combined for 56 points in their second-round win over Ole Miss.

While the Irish dominate the most with their starters on the floor, the players are used to the heavy workload and have handled it very well so far. It will just be a matter of how much more fuel they have left.

8. UCLA (No. 2)

The Bruins' difference maker is 6-foot-7 center Lauren Betts, who has been taking over for the Bruins. Her 20 points and 10 rebounds led the team against Creighton on Monday.

As well, the defensive effort by Kiki Rice has been standing out throughout the tournament. This season has been a turnaround for UCLA and they are hoping to continue it at this pace.

In the matchup between Creighton, they handled defending the perimeter very well and gave them a hard matchup.

9. LSU (No. 3)

In the first half of the second-round game against Middle Tennessee, the Tigers did not look like a team that had just won the national championship the previous year.

Once they got in a groove, they looked like their usual selves and dominated in the fourth quarter, outscoring the opponent 24-7. The Tigers are also known for their elite rebounding, coming mainly from their frontcourt of Aneesah Morrow and Angel Reese.

It was concerning how the Tigers played and they definitely will need to step it up in the Sweet 16 if they want to keep their season alive.

10. NC State (No. 3)

The Wolfpack is yet another team that has a strong defensive presence also, with strengths of physicality and quickness.

The backcourt trio of Aziah James, Saniya Rivers, and Zoe Brooks have stood out on the floor together, combining 58 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists against Tennessee.

What NC State does very well is protecting the ball, and the team had just four turnovers on Monday.

11. Indiana (No. 3)

While the Hoosiers did not shoot proficiently against Oklahoma on Monday night, they entered the game ranked second in the country in effective field goal percentage, third in 2-point percentage, and first in 3-point percentage. If the Hoosiers prove why they are high up on the rankings, then they can fight with the Gamecocks.

Graduate senior Mackenzie Holmes finished the game with 20 points, six of which came during the 10-0 run that the Hoosiers needed to get back in the game.

The Hoosiers were tested in the game against the Sooners, proving they can play out of their comfort zone. Now we can see if they can knock off the top seed.

12. Oregon State (No. 3)

It is impressive that this Oregon State team is where it is without a single senior on its roster. The Beavers also persevered even when All-American Raegan Beers was on the bench because of foul trouble against Nebraska.

The team played small ball in the fourth quarter, which had a positive outcome as they hit five 3-pointers in the fourth period alone.

Oregon State does a good job of slowing down other teams' offenses and ensuring that they have a harder time shooting from long range.

13. Gonzaga (No. 4)

The Zags are the top 3-point shooting team in the country and finished shooting 12-for-22 behind the arc against Utah on Monday.

The Troung sisters combined to score or assist on 50 of Gonzaga's 77 points. Kayleigh Truong made as many free-throw attempts as the entire Utah team. Yvonne Ejim also added 17 points and 14 rebounds in the game.

The Bulldogs continue to shoot lights out and may be the dark-horse in the Sweet 16.

14. Duke (No. 7)

The Blue Devils are built on defense and offensive balance. Reigan Richardson is one of the best players in the tournament and has 53 total points thus far to back her up.

Duke trailed by as many as 16 points in the second quarter and went more than 11 minutes without a field goal in the first half but came out of the second half dominating on offense and defense.

After halftime, the Blue Devils struck Ohio State's shooting percentage to 28%. Duke played its best offensive game of the season and pulled off the most significant upset yet.

15. Colorado (No. 5)

While Colorado's defense is good, and Aaronette Vonleh had seven steals, the team struggles offensively. Combined, the team had 17 steals and forced 22 turnovers against Kansas State.

The team failed to score a point in the fourth quarter until there was 3:42 left. Ultimately, it is their defense that wins them games.

But they do have the experience on their roster. All eight players in their rotation are at least juniors, and four are playing in their fifth year.

16. Baylor (No. 5)

Jada Walker scored a career-high 28 points Sunday, and her three-point played out of a timeout with 19 seconds left to put the Bears on top and gave them the confidence boost to seal the game.

The Bears are known for their offensive balance and having a hot hand at the right times in the game.

However, the Bears struggled a decent amount in Big 12 play and can show many signs of weaknesses on defense.

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