Women’s NCAA Tournament Challenge bracket trends and notes

Table of Contents1 Friday recap1.1 How did we get there?2 Friday noon EST update, the…

We’ve spent weeks debating bubble teams, conference champions, and Bracketology, but now that the 2022 Women’s NCAA Tournament field has been revealed, it’s time to enjoy your brackets.

Picking the right Final Four is a difficult task, especially with the depth of quality national championship contenders like UConn, Stanford and South Carolina. Who are the most popular teams chosen as the public fills out their first brackets? Who are the trends underdogs and upsets so far?

Follow along as we provide daily updates on bracket trends during the 2022 Women’s Tournament Challenge.


Friday recap

With 16 games in the books, 1,305 perfect brackets remain.

How did we get there?

  • No. 1 South Carolina led 44-4 at halftime and scored more points in the first quarter than they allowed Howard to score for the entire game

  • No. 2 seeds Baylor and Iowa both won by 40. It’s early but the 49.7% of brackets that have South Carolina and Iowa playing one another for a trip to the Final Four have to like what they saw Friday

  • No. 3 Iowa State survived a scare, a great thing for the 63.2% of brackets that had them winning not only Friday, but also on Sunday to reach the Sweet 16

  • No. 12 FGCU beat No. 5 Virginia Tech: 24.1% of brackets got it right. This was the most impactful result of the day, as 30.1% of brackets had Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16 (2.5% bought all the way in and had them in the Final Four)

  • No. 10 South Dakota beat No. 7 Ole Miss: 30.9% of brackets got it right

  • No. 10 Creighton beat No. 7 Colorado: 40.1% of brackets got it right

  • None of those percentages are overwhelming, but only 5.8% of brackets were able to nail all three of those seeding upsets


Friday noon EST update, the ball is tipped

Most popular champions:

  1. South Carolina: 30.1% (They’ve been the clear cut choice with every update. All other one-seeds combined are picked to win a total 25.4% of the time.)

  2. Stanford: 12.5%

  3. UConn: 11.4%

  4. NC State: 7.1%

  5. Louisville: 5.8%

Do you want to make a unique bracket? You can try pining the tale on the off-the-wall upset, or you can simply fade South Carolina or Stanford (or both!) winning their region. At the moment, 61.3% of brackets have South Carolina getting to the Final Four and 57.2% have Stanford. Furthermore, a whopping 41.9% of brackets have BOTH getting there! Have a unique winner in either of their regions and you’ve separated yourself from the field. Have a unique winner in BOTH of those regions and you probably don’t need to pick much chaos early on, understanding that if you’re right and the favorites falter at all, you’re sitting pretty.

Most popular National Championship matchups:

  • South Carolina vs Stanford: 20.3%

  • South Carolina vs UConn: 11.1%

  • Louisville vs Stanford: 3.6%

  • Louisville vs NC State: 2.6%

  • Iowa vs Stanford: 2.5%

Iowa and Kentucky were popular picks on the men’s side and lost before the tournament was 12 hours old. So, should we expect the women’s teams to pick them up? If so, you’d have a very unique bracket: 0.5% of brackets have Kentucky and Iowa squaring off in the Final Four

Kentucky is a six-seed, which means the committee labeled them as the 21st-24th best team in the field. Our users, however, are much more confident, as they are the 15th most common pick to cut down the nets (ahead of a three-seed in Iowa State)

Most popular upset picks by seed to make the Sweet 16

  • 10-seed: Arkansas, 8.3%

  • 11-seed: Princeton, 9.6% – They are the most popular double digit seed picked to reach both the Sweet 16 and the Final Four (1.2%)

  • 12-seed: FGCU, 9.0%

  • 13-seed: Buffalo, 7.2%

  • 14-seed: Jackson State. 5.1%

  • 15-seed: Illinois State, 4.3%

  • 16-seed:Montana State, 3.4%

First round upsets

The 5-12 and 6-11 games have been sweet spots for upsets. Here are the four most picked 11 and 12 seeds to advance through the first round

  • Villanova: 32.9%

  • Princeton: 25.1%

  • FGCU: 24.0%

  • Dayton: 22.2%


Friday, 10:30 a.m. EST update

Champion

1. South Carolina: 30.2% — They’ve been the clear cut choice with every update. All other 1-seeds combined are picked to win a total 25.4% of the time

2. Stanford: 12.5%

3. UConn: 11.5%

4. NC State: 7.1%

5. Louisville: 5.8%

Final Four

Do you want to make a unique bracket? You can try an off-the-wall upset, or you can simply fade South Carolina or Stanford (or both!) winning their region. At the moment, 61.5% of brackets have South Carolina getting to the Final 4 and 57.6% have Stanford. Furthermore, a whopping 42.1% of brackets have both getting there!

Have a different winner in either of their regions and you’ve separated yourself from the field. Have a different winner in both of those regions and you probably don’t need to pick much chaos early on, understanding that if you’re right and the favorites falter at all, you’re sitting pretty.

Upset special

Kentucky is a 6-seed, which means the committee labeled them as the 21st-24th best team in the field. ESPN users, however, are much more confident, as they are the 14th most common pick to cut down the nets (ahead of a 3-seed in Iowa State).

How sweet it is

The most popular upset picks by seed to make the Sweet 16:

  • 10-seed: Arkansas, 8.2%

  • 11-seed: Villanova, 9.5% — They are the most popular double digit seed picked to reach both the Sweet 16 and the Final Four (1.2%)

  • 12-seed: FGCU, 8.8%

  • 13-seed: Buffalo, 7.1%

  • 14-seed: Jackson State. 5.1%

  • 15-seed: Illinois State, 4.2%

  • 16-seed:Montana State, 3.7%

Wednesday 8 p.m. EST update

Here’s are the most popular championship picks by the public

  1. South Carolina: 30.3%

  2. Stanford: 11.8%

  3. UConn: 11.8%

  4. NC State: 6.8%

  5. Louisville: 5.7%

Final Four picks from outside the No. 1 seeds:

  1. UConn: 37.8%

  2. Baylor: 26.1%

  3. Iowa: 16.3% (The Iowa men are at 12.2% to reach the Final Four … a little friendly competition among strong teams at the same school?)

  4. Texas: 14.7%

  5. Michigan: 9.7%

Popular first-round upsets:

Double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16:

  • 11-seed Villanova: 9.2%

  • 11-seed Princeton: 8.5%

  • 12-seed FGCU: 8.2%

  • 10-seed Arkansas: 7.8%

  • 10-seed Creighton: 6.8%


Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST update

After two days of bracket-building, here’s how your picks are looking.

Most popular champion picks:

  1. South Carolina (1-seed): 30.9%

  2. UConn (2-seed): 12% – All other two-seeds combined: 11.1%

  3. Stanford (1-seed): 11.2% – Just over 54% of all brackets currently have one of the three teams above to win it all … so if you want to create a different bracket, starting with any other winner is one avenue

  4. NC State (1-seed): 6.5%

Most common upset by double-digit seeds

  • Most common 10-seed: Arkansas (41.5%) – The most popular of all double digit seeds ·

  • Most common 11-seed: Villanova (31.5%) – Picked to make the Sweet 16 in 8.8% of brackets, the highest rate among double digit seeds ·

  • Most common 12-seed: FGCU (20.9%)

  • Most common 13-seed: Buffalo (13.8%)

  • Most common 14-seed: Charlotte (10.7%)

  • Most common 15-seed: Illinois State (8.3%)

  • Most common 16-seed: Montana State (6.5%)

Odds and ends

  • The top 16 teams in terms of champion pick percentage feature 15 of the top 16 seeds.

  • The top four-seed generating the least confidence: Oklahoma (picked to win just 0.6% of brackets).

  • The non-top four seed generating title buzz: Kentucky (six-seed, picked to win it all in 0.9% of brackets, making them the 13th most common selection).

  • Every eight-seed is being picked to advance in the majority of brackets.

  • Three of the four 10-seeds have been in advanced in over 38% of brackets.

  • Despite being a four-seed, Oklahoma is NOT being advanced to the Sweet 16 in the majority of brackets


Monday, 10 p.m. EST update:

After 24 hours, 55.3% of brackets have a 1-seed winning it all South Carolina has established themselves as the clear front-runner, as they’ve been picked to win it all in 33.4% of brackets

The most popular non-1-seeds to cut down the nets:

  1. No. 2-seed UConn: 12.6%

  2. No. 2-seed Iowa: 5.5%

  3. No. 2-seed Baylor: 3.3%

  4. No. 2-seed Texas: 2.1%

  5. No. 3-seed Michigan: 1.7%

Overall, 8-9 games are always tough, but at the moment, all 4 8-seeds hold the edge in pick percentage.

South Carolina (63.5%) and Stanford (60.6%) have distanced themselves from the field in terms of pick percentage to make the Final Four. No other team is picked to win their region even 44% of the time

Upset special?

Here are the most popular picks at each of the double digit seed lines to win their first round game:

  • No. 16-seed: Montana State (6.2%)

  • No. 15-seed: Hawai’i (7.7%)

  • No. 14-seed: Jackson State (9.8%)

  • No. 13-seed: Buffalo (12.6%)

  • No. 12-seed: Belmont (15.2%)

  • No. 11-seed: Villanova (30.8%)

  • No. 10-seed: Arkansas (40.5%)

Whose program is most likely to win BOTH the men’s and women’s tournaments?

Here are the top 5 in terms of cumulative title pick percentage (among schools represented in both tournaments

  • Gonzaga

  • Arizona

  • UConn

  • Kansas

  • Baylor


Monday, 3 p.m. EDT update:

Popular Tournament Champions

  1. South Carolina: 40.4% Picked in a higher percentage of brackets than the next 10 most popular winners COMBINED

  2. UConn: 10.6%

  3. Stanford: 8.4%

  4. Iowa: 4.7%

Popular First Round Upsets (double digit seeds)

  1. 10-seed Florida: 33.4%

  2. 10-seed Arkansas: 32.7%

  3. 10-seed Creighton: 31.3%

  4. 11-seed Villanova: 25.3%

Is the 8-9 game no longer a coin toss?

Every eight-seed is currently leading the charge, all being clicked through on over 54% of brackets

  • Miami: 64.8%

  • Kansas: 62.2%

  • Nebraska: 56.5%

  • Washington State: 54.7%

2021 Recap

Last season, 17.7% of brackets correctly picked Stanford to win it all. They were the second most popular pick, trailing only UConn’s 30%. When all was said and done last season, 63.4% of brackets had a one-seed cutting down the nets.

While the final result was “chalky”, it almost wasn’t. Arizona lost the title game in a result that would have swung many a pool. The Wildcats were picked to win it all in less than 1% of brackets (0.96% to be exact, making them the 12th most popular pick).

Picking a unique champion is one way to gain on the field, but not the only way. Texas made a surprise run to the Elite Eight as a 6-seed last season, something 91.6% of brackets did NOT see coming. Pick and choose your spots, but one right call and you’re gaining on the majority of the field!

In the first round last season, there were four double digit seeds (all 10-seeds) picked to advance in over 30% of brackets. Those four teams all lost in the first round.

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