2014 bracket: winners and losers


We'll never have a tournament bracket about which all 64 teams are happy. This year is no different. Here are some of the winners and losers out of Monday's draw:


South Carolina: The Gamecocks were the surprise No. 1 seed in the brackets, a first in school history and a result of their impressive run through the SEC regular season that led to the conference title (also a first).

West Virginia: A relatively unimpressive nonconference schedule didn't prevent the Mountaineers from becoming a No. 2 seed. And placed in the Louisville Region with Tennessee.

Connecticut: Instead of dealing with the possibility of facing "home team" Louisville in its regional, the Huskies were sent to Lincoln, where the chances of having to duel Nebraska certainly seem less treacherous for the title favorites.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils were in danger of not making this bracket after losing six of eight games down the stretch. But thanks to a strong nonconference performance, including wins against North Carolina and Syracuse, ASU ends up with the No. 9 seed.

Kentucky: The Wildcats are a strong No. 3 seed, earning a spot in the field for a school-record fifth straight season, and they will host first- and second-round games in Lexington for the first time in the program's history.

Oregon State: One of the hottest teams in the country and winners of 12 straight before losing in the Pac-12 tournament finale against USC, the Beavers receive a great early-round assignment, heading back up to Seattle to take on No. 8 Middle Tennessee in an intriguing first-round matchup.

Oklahoma: With 18 wins, three losses in their past four games and a less-than-satisfying season overall, the No. 10 Sooners are merely relieved to be in the field.

Southern California: In the tournament for the first time since 2006, coach Cynthia Cooper and the Women of Troy are truly happy to be here. USC, a No. 9 seed, faces No. 8 St. John's in the first round in Knoxville.

LSU: Nothing cures a late-season slump like the chance to play at home in the NCAA tournament. The seventh-seeded Tigers lost six in a row and lasted only one game in the SEC tournament, but they will be playing in Baton Rouge for the first two rounds, including a possible second-round matchup against second-seeded West Virginia. The good news: They avoid a potential matchup with Notre Dame.

Vanderbilt: Having lost nine of the last 11 games of the season, the Commodores apparently built enough goodwill early to earn an eighth seed and a game against an also-struggling Arizona State squad.


Stanford: Think the Pac-12 is past all that lack-of-respect talk? Think again. The Cardinal lost two games in the past month (against Washington, and then against USC in the Pac-12 tournament), and those losses cost them a No. 1 seed despite having one of the best strength of schedules in the nation. To add insult to injury, No. 2 Stanford was sent to Ames, Iowa, to open the tournament with the possibility of facing No. 7 Iowa State on its home floor in the second round.

Iowa State: On a related note, the Cyclones might not be relishing at the thought of facing an angry and highly motivated Stanford team in the second round at home.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks might be the first team to prove you can be a winner and a loser in the same bracket. The No. 1 seed will have to play three time zones away for the majority of its tournament run, opening up in Seattle and then potentially traveling to Palo Alto, Calif., where South Carolina faces Stanford in the regionals.

West Virginia: Another good news/bad news scenario here. The Mountaineers will have to take their No. 2 seed on the road to Baton Rouge with the possibility of a second-round matchup against host LSU.

Duke: Thanks to a strong finish in the ACC tournament, the Blue Devils kept their No. 2 seed. But with Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones sidelined, it was not good news to be placed in the same regional as Connecticut, a team that has beaten Duke by an average of 28.7 points a game in six meetings since 2010.

Baylor: A fourth straight Big 12 title gets the Bears a No. 2 seed and a spot in the same regional as Notre Dame, which means that Odyssey Sims & Co. will have to beat the Irish on their home floor in the regional final to reach the Final Four.

Louisville: Speaking of having to play on somebody's home floor, the Cardinals -- who had been discussed as a potential No. 1 seed before inexplicably being dropped to a No. 3 -- are going to have to do it in Iowa City against Iowa, should both teams advance to the second round.

Nebraska: Congratulations, Huskers. You get to host the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds. Oh yeah, and we are sending Connecticut your way.

DePaul: The Big East Championship isn't what it used to be. The Blue Demons won the title, ended up with a No. 7 seed and now face a tough opening-round game against tournament-experienced Oklahoma, which comes in off the bubble as a No. 10 seed.

Tennessee: It's one thing to be a high seed and have to play an early-round game on someone else's home floor; it's another to face the possibility of having to beat Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center to punch a ticket to the Final Four.