With the help of our TRACR model, we’ve calculated the probabilities of advancement for each team during March Madness. So if you’re looking for 2024 Women’s NCAA Tournament predictions, you’re in the right place.

March Madness doubles as March Gladness, as the arrival of the NCAA Tournament in both men’s and women’s college basketball signals the best tournament in sports is finally here.

Isn’t this the most wonderful time of the year?

There’s plenty of momentum with the women’s tournament as last season ended with a national championship game – LSU beat Iowa 102-85 – that averaged 9.9 million viewers and peaked at 12.6 million.

Based on how conference tournaments went in the last two weeks, March Madness should be thrilling, even wild, this year. South Carolina, Iowa, Texas and USC all earned No. 1 seeds for the 68-team event, and it’s full of top teams and players.

This is the place for men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament predictions. Our TRACR-powered supercomputer is simulating both brackets. TRACR, our Team Rating Adjusted for Conference and Roster, is a net efficiency metric that calculates a team’s points per possession on both sides of the ball, adjusted by the team it plays. The model rewards teams that do well against good teams and deducts for those that do poorly against weaker squads.

TRACR did a tremendous job at predicting the women’s conference tournaments, so hopefully it does just as well for The Dance. Prior to the 32 conference tournaments, TRACR predicted the winner 23 times. Of the nine that were incorrect, three were the second most-likely pick and five were in the top three.

Following are some highlights from TRACR heading into March Madness. For the second consecutive year, the women’s NCAA Tournament field will advance to only two regional host sites instead of four – Albany 1, Albany 2, Portland 3 and Portland 4 – with the Final Four scheduled for April 5-7 in Cleveland.

Women’s NCAA Tournament predictions start at the top. The South Carolina Gamecocks are TRACR’s best team in Division I women’s basketball … again. They head into the NCAA Tournament off an undefeated regular season … again. They are the No. 1 overall seed and heavy favorites to win the national title … again!

Yes, the feeling heading into March Madness is similar to last season’s tournament, but there are two major points of note:

First, of course, South Carolina did not win the national championship last year. The Gamecocks fell in a national semifinal to Iowa, shooting just 4 of 20 on 3-pointers and allowing Hawkeyes All-American Caitlin Clark to pour in 41 points.

Second, coach Dawn Staley has a much different team from last season’s Gamecocks. All five starters from the 36-1 team are gone, but Kamilla Cardoso, Bree Hall and Te-Hina Paopao have stepped up in a 32-0 start. Freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley has been excellent as well, averaging 11.8 points while coming off the bench in 29 of their 32 games.

South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso will serve a one-game suspension to start the Gamecocks’ NCAA Tournament appearance. (AP)

Sure, the Gamecocks have had dominant outings – they beat No. 2 seed Notre Dame (eighth overall in TRACR) by 29 points to open the season and No. 3 seed UConn (second), which went undefeated in the Big East with Paige Bueckers fully healthy this season, by 18 in February.

However, there have been moments when they appear beatable. They needed the bank open to beat Tennessee (24th) in an SEC Tournament semifinal, using Cardoso’s first career 3 for a game-winner at the buzzer.

South Carolina will be without the 6-foot-7 Cardoso for its first NCAA Tournament game, as she was suspended after a mini brawl in the SEC championship game against LSU (5th).

It should not be a problem.

The men’s bracket in March Madness has consistently had upsets among teams seeded 1, 2 or 3 over the last few years, but you can basically consider it the opposite for making NCAA women’s tournament predictions. In fact, the top three seeds are 347-1 all-time in the Round of 64 – the one loss was No. 16 seed Harvard’s upset of No. 1 seed Stanford in 1998.

Keep in mind that following the First Four games, the first and second rounds are hosted by the highest seed in each quad – the 1- to 4-seeded teams. This gives the top seeds an even bigger edge to advance to the Sweet 16.

Those teams:

  • Albany 1: 1 South Carolina (SEC), 2 Notre Dame (ACC), 3 Oregon State (Pac-12) and 4 Indiana (Big Ten)
  • Albany 2: 1 Iowa (Big Ten), 2 UCLA (Big Ten), 3 LSU (SEC) and 4 Kansas State (Big 12)
  • Portland 3: 1 USC (Pac-12), 2 Ohio State (Big Ten), 3 UConn (Big East) and 4 Virginia Tech (ACC)
  • Portland 4: 1 Texas (Big 12), 2 Stanford (Pac-12), 3 NC State (ACC) and 4 Gonzaga (West Coast Conference)

This year, the 3 seeds may be primed to make deep runs, as they have a four-team average TRACR (46.2) that is higher than the 2 seeds (45.4). LSU is rated higher than UCLA (sixth) and the UConn Huskies are rated higher than Ohio State (ninth). The 2 seeds are still quite good, though, and definitely better than the average 4 or 5 seed.

Highest Average TRACR by Seed

  • 1 Seed – 51.3
  • 3 Seed – 46.2
  • 2 Seed – 45.4
  • 4 Seed – 38.7
  • 5 Seed – 37.8

LSU was a 3 seed last year and went on to win the national title. Angel Reese might not be having as strong of a season this winter, but she was still named the SEC Player of the Year and averages a double-double with 19.0 points and 13.2 rebounds.

Oh, would it be fun to have a rematch between Reese and Caitlin Clark in the Elite Eight. UCLA will try to say otherwise, however.

LSU won the 2023 NCAA national championship behind coach Kim Mulkey. She previously guided Baylor to three national titles. (Research by Brady Olson of Stats Perform’s U.S. Data Insights; AP Photo))

The lowest 3 seed, per TRACR, is Oregon State (18th), but the Beavers can beat any team in the women’s tournament. They’ve struggled down the stretch, losing four of their last seven games. This came after they won six games in a row, including five against ranked opponents.

Oregon State shoots 39.1% on 3-pointers in wins and 25.9% in losses. If the Beavers start hitting 3s early on, they could upset Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 and maybe even South Carolina in the Elite Eight.

Your women’s NCAA Tournament predictions could be all chalk and you’d still come out with a decent bracket. That will likely not happen, though.

TRACR is quite accurate at not only evaluating major conference teams, but also at how mid-majors would fare against stronger teams. The tournament’s selection committee put some teams in as an 11 or 12 seed that TRACR thought could be higher for March Madness.

Perhaps the biggest example is Florida Gulf Coast (40th), set to open against Oklahoma in Albany 1. This isn’t a typical 12 seed – the Eagles are on a 22-game winning streak, going 16-0 in the ASUN while outscoring conference opponents by an average of 24.5 points.

Last year’s FGSU team upset Washington State as a 5 seed as well. Although it’s not nearly the same roster after losing the top four scorers, the Eagles can still lock down teams defensively.

Middle Tennessee (36th) enters the NCAA Tournament on a 19-game winning streak and is another mid-major TRACR loves. Like FGSU, the Blue Raiders get it done on the defensive end, holding opponents to 54.3 points per game.

The Conference USA champs do not have much depth, as all five starters average over 30 minutes, but they have experience heading into an Albany 2 matchup against Louisville.

Perhaps the most intriguing matchup in the Round of 64 is Green Bay (31st) against Tennessee in Portland 4. Of course, Tennessee just nearly beat South Carolina, but it’s possible Green Bay would have made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large had the Phoenix not won the Horizon Conference Tournament. They beat ranked Creighton (34th) and Washington State (42nd) – both tournament teams – out of conference.

Green Bay’s defense has improved throughout the season, too – since Feb. 8, the Phoenix have held opponents to 52.6 points per game on 36.0% shooting.

Another mid-major to watch out for is UNLV (21st) – in fact, TRACR favors the Rebels to upset Creighton in the first round of Albany 2. They’re 30-2 with a 15-game winning streak, having torched their last five Mountain West opponents by an average of 38.8 points.

The end of the Pac-12 will hit women’s basketball especially hard.

This season’s top conference enters March Madness with seven teams, including six ranked in TRACR’s top 20. While the Pac-12 has only one title in the last 30 years – Stanford in 2021 – could it end up on top for the final time?

Highest Average TRACR by Conference

  1. Pac-12 – 31.3
  2. SEC – 27.5
  3. Big 12 – 27.4
  4. ACC – 25.4
  5. Big Ten – 25.3
  6. Big East – 16.1

Oregon State was mentioned previously as a dangerous No. 3 seed, and the Pac-12 still has USC (12th) as a 1 seed and both UCLA (sixth) and Stanford (seventh) as 2 seeds.

Actually, Stanford has the highest probability of making the Final Four among Pac-12 teams at 20.9%. The other two qualifiers, Utah (17th) and Colorado (11th), could knock off a No. 1 seed in the Sweet 16 as 5 seeds.

The 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year Award have helped their teams reach the NCAA tourney. (AP)

This is Caitlin Clark’s final run in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament before she heads off to the WNBA. Who will replace her as the best player in Division I? We might see in this tourney the answer is USC freshman phenom JuJu Watkins.

Watkins averages 27.0 points – second-best in D-I to Clark’s 31.9 – as well as 7.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year is just five points away from breaking USC’s single-season record of 814, set by Cheryl Miller in 1985-86.

Clark averaged 26.6 points in her first season with Iowa. Watkins is not as strong of a shooter as Clark, but she could be a better defender.

Look out for the superstar in the making in March Madness.

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