March Madness: USC women’s basketball earns top seeding

USC Trojans guard McKenzie Forbes (25), USC Trojans guard JuJu Watkins (12) and USC Trojans guard Taylor Bigby. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The stage is set for March Madness and the University of Southern California women’s basketball team is going dancing with hopes of winning a third championship. 

On Sunday, the brackets were revealed for the men's and women’s tournaments and the USC women’s team was named a No. 1 seed, along with South Carolina, Iowa and Texas. This is the Trojans’ first No. 1 seed since 1986 as the top choice in a Portland Regional. 

The Lady Trojans went 26-5 this season and finished 13-5 in the Pac-12 conference. 

USC freshman JuJu Watkins, a Los Angeles native and certified baller, has been outstanding. In her first college debut season, she averaged 27 points, 3 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals per game. That’s quite impressive when you consider Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, the NCAA’s Division I All-Time leading scorer, averaged 32 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals this season. 

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Clark is trying to win her first title. The Hawkeyes open up against the winner of Holy Cross and UT Martin. Joining the Hawkeyes in their region are No. 2 UCLA, defending champion and third-seeded LSU and fourth-seeded Kansas State. The Tigers beat the Hawkeyes for the national championship last year.

Watkins continues to shine under the Hollywood lights and seems to embrace her popularity. The Sierra Canyon alum graced the cover of Slam magazine earlier this year and has over 447,000 followers on Instagram. 

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USC takes on Texas A&M on Saturday, March 23. 

It's also worth noting the NCAA changed its format last season and is having two regional sites for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds. Albany, New York, hosts one and Portland, Oregon, the other. Once again, the top four teams in each region will host the opening two rounds.

The tournament begins Wednesday with two First Four games. The full madness starts with 16 games Friday and 16 more the next day. The Final Four will be played in Cleveland this year for the first time since 2007. The national semifinals are on April 5, with the championship game two days later.

With seven Pac-12 teams in the tournament, the conference appears to be going out with a bang. USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington will join the Big 10 this fall. 

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.