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March Madness: What to know about the NCAA women’s tournament Portland 3 region

March Madness: What to know about the NCAA women's tournament Portland 3 region

[Regional Breakdowns: Albany 1 | Albany 2 | Portland 3 | Portland 4]

USC earned the region's No. 1 seed, but the Trojans aren’t the only team to get excited about in the Portland 3 region.

From a first-time tournament team to a prolific scorer, here is everything you need to know about the region before March Madness begins:

Five things to know

USC is a No. 1 seed for the first time since 1986

The last time USC was a No. 1 in the NCAA tournament, Cheryl Miller was still playing for the Trojans. It’s been 38 years since that season, which also marks the last time USC made a Final Four.

Freshman sensation JuJu Watkins and the Trojans are heading into March Madness with momentum, thanks to a Pac-12 championship win. Watkins will be must-see TV for any basketball fan, as the guard is second in the country in scoring with 27 points per game, but she isn’t the only weapon on the roster. McKenzie Forbes, who was named Pac-12 tournament MVP, is second on the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game. Center Rayah Marshall gives her team a strong presence inside with 10.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

If both teams take care of their sections of the bracket, USC could play UConn in the Elite Eight, where Watkins would face off against another star guard in Paige Bueckers.

JuJu Watkins has been a breakout star for Southern California in her freshman year. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Columbia earns first bid after Megan Griffith’s impassioned plea

After falling to Princeton in the Ivy League title game, Colombia's chances at the NCAA tournament appeared slim. The Lions were projected as one of the first four teams out, but the committee thought otherwise, and they are slated to play Vanderbilt in the First Four. This is their first NCAA tournament appearance.

After the loss to Princeton, coach Megan Griffith laid out her team’s resume, while also calling out the committee.

“The NCAA talks about wanting to grow the game and we just consistently put SEC teams in that are 15-14," Griffith said.

Now, Columbia will play an SEC team in the first round, as the 22-9 Commodores earned their first bid since 2014.

Watch out for Marshall

Virginia Tech will have its hands full with Marshall in the first round, especially if senior Liz Kitley doesn’t play. She’s been injured since Virginia Tech’s March 3 loss to Virginia, and as of Selection Sunday, the Hokies don’t have an update on the senior's status.

Marshall will look to play fast and force the Hokies into turnovers. They play a big rotation with 11 players getting consistent minutes, sub regularly, and force 23.7 turnovers per game. The Hokies will need to keep their composure to avoid an upset.

Dyaisha Fair could climb scoring list

Caitlin Clark will be playing in Albany, but Portland has its own prolific scorer in Fair, who plays for Syracuse. The fifth-year senior is currently fifth on the NCAA all-time scorer’s list with 3,283 points. She passed Birttney Griner this season. Fair has a chance to pass both Jackie Stiles (3,393 points) and Kelsey Mitchell (3.402 points) to slide into third place.

The No. 6 Orange take on the winner of Auburn/Arizona on Saturday.

Syracuse’s Dyaisha Fair has a chance to move further up the all-time scoring list in the coming weeks. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ohio State seeks second Final Four

Last season was a historic one for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes reached their first Elite Eight since 1993. The '93 season was also the last (and only) time Ohio State reached the Final Four.

This year, the No. 2 Buckeyes will look to capitalize on an experienced roster to make history. Fifth-year senior Jacy Sheldon (18 points, 3.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game) and sophomore Cotie McMahon (14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game) will lead the way, but Duke transfer and defensive stopper Celeste Taylor could be the difference maker.

The Buckeyes will likely have to contend with Taylor’s former team in the second round before a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 victory over UConn.

Potential rematches

If the Buckeyes want to get to the Final Four, they may have to get through UConn and Virginia Tech, both rematches from last season’s tournament.

The Buckeyes defeated UConn 73-61 behind 23 points from McMahon, before falling to Virginia Tech thanks to 25 points from Kitley and 24 from Georgia Amoore. All three teams lost significant pieces from last season’s teams, but the biggest change is what UConn got back: Paige Bueckers.

[Printable women's bracket | Men's]

Players to watch

Paige Bueckers, UConn: The Huskies felt Bueckers’ absence last season, as their 14-year Final Four streak came to an end. Now she’s back, and the 2021 National Player of the Year will be hungry.

Georgia Amoore, Virginia Tech: Amoore was a tournament darling last season as she led Virginia Tech to their first Elite Eight and first Final Four. The Australian guard is averaging a career-best 19.2 points and 6.9 assists per game, and if Kitley isn’t healthy, Amoore will have to carry an even bigger scoring load.

Taiyanna Jackson, Kansas: There are a lot of talented bigs in college basketball, and Jackson is one of them. The 6-foot-6 senior has been underrated throughout her career, but Jackson is a force for Kansas. She’s averaging 12.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game.

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