Probably no program is more tired of hearing about what it hasn't done recently than Baylor. But the Lady Bears keep putting themselves in position to be a Final Four team again, so their absence from the event since winning the 2012 title is notable.
But first, we'll focus on the early rounds of the women's NCAA tournament: No. 1 seed Baylor faces NCAA tournament first-timer Abilene Christian. With a win, it's either Cal or North Carolina.
Baylor has lost just five home games in the past 10 seasons, and only one of those in senior center Kalani Brown's career. Brown (15.7 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game) was the Big 12 tournament MVP and combines with junior forward Lauren Cox (12.6, 8.2) as one of the most formidable frontcourts in the country.
Iowa center Megan Gustafson is another nearly unstoppable force inside all on her own. The espnW national player of the year, Gustafson leads Division I in scoring (28.0), and she helped the Hawkeyes win their first Big Ten tournament title since 2001.
South Carolina didn't have a good league tournament, getting upset in the SEC quarterfinals by Arkansas. But it ended up working in the Gamecocks' favor, as they slid to a No. 4 seed but stayed much closer to home in the Greensboro Regional. Unfortunately, they won't be able to host the early rounds at their own Colonial Life Arena because the men's NCAA tournament games are being played there. But they'll still get to "host" -- 100 miles to the north at Halton Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Three players to watch
Kristine Angiwe, Cal: Along with Gustafson and Brown, the 6-foot-4 Anigwe is a senior power inside; she might be the first of the three picked in April's WNBA draft. Anigwe leads Division I in rebounding (16.3 RPG) and is seventh in scoring (22.9 PPG). Anigwe missed last season's NCAA first-round loss to Virginia because she wasn't medically cleared to play. In 2017, she had 20 points and 11 rebounds in a second-round loss at Baylor -- which she and Cal might be facing again.
Paris Kea, North Carolina: She spent her freshman year at Vanderbilt, which had a losing season, and sat out as a transfer the next season. Now the Tar Heels are back in the NCAA field after a three-year absence, so the senior guard at last gets her chance in the Big Dance. Kea leads the Tar Heels at 17.1 PPG, and she scored a combined 57 points in two games against ACC champ Notre Dame this season.
Kiah Gillespie, Florida State:The Seminoles have had a lot of successful transfers over the years, and Gillespie -- who spent her first two seasons at Maryland -- is another. Florida State lost all its starters from last season, but players like Gillespie (16.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG), a 6-2 forward, still got the Seminoles a No. 5 seed.
Best first-round game
No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 Drake (ESPN2/ESPN App, 4 p.m. ET Friday): You could argue both these teams are better than their seeds, so it balances out the matchup. Sophie Cunningham (18.0 PPG) became Mizzou's career scoring leader as the Tigers made the SEC tournament semifinals for the first time. Now can she get the Tigers to their first Sweet 16 since 2001? First, they'll have a difficult task facing Drake and Missouri Valley Player of the Year Becca Hittner (19.8 PPG). The Bulldogs were the MVC regular-season champs but lost in the tournament final. Expect a lot of 3-pointers; Drake averages 8.8 per game to Mizzou's 8.3.
Best potential second-round game
No. 3 NC State vs. No. 6 Kentucky: Despite difficult injuries, the Wolfpack have had an admirable season, led by senior guard Kiara Leslie (15.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG) and freshman center Elissa Cunane (13.6, 5.7). The Wildcats are sparked by espnW freshman of the year Rhyne Howard (16.3 PPG) and senior guards Maci Morris (14.9) and Taylor Murray (12.5).
Picks to reach the Sweet 16
(1) Baylor, (2) Iowa, (4) South Carolina, (6) Kentucky