This section is featured in SLAM’s 2022 WBB March Madness Preview. Here, we take a look at some exciting teams you won’t want to sleep on throughout the NCAA Tournament.
After one of the most historic runs in conference tournament history, the Kentucky Wildcats won its first SEC title since 1982 after taking down the number one seed South Carolina Gamecocks. Less than a month ago had a sub .500 record and weren’t in tournament consideration.
They entered the conference tournament with a 19-11 record (8-8 in conference) and took down three top-20 teams in the span of three days No. 6 LSU (78-63), No. 18 Tennessee (83-74), and No. 1 South Carolina 64-72 after a last-second shot by Dre’una Edwards sealed the deal for the Wildcats. Edwards finished the game with 27 points, and nine rebounds as Kentucky punched their ticket to the tournament for the 17th time in program history. The Wildcats will be the sixth seed in the tournament and will play Princeton to kick off their march madness.
Miami was a huge shocker in the ACC tournament, first stunning the four seeded Louisville Cardinals in ACC quarterfinals 61-59 on Destiny Harden’s buzzer-beating turn-around jumper. The upsets were not done yet as they edged passed No. 3 Notre Dame 57-54, advancing to the program’s first-ever ACC Championship game.
Though they did not win it all, falling short to NC State 60-47 in the title game, All-ACC Team honorable mention Kelsey Marshall put up 24 points, four rebounds, and two assists for the Canes. This year Marshall averaged 14.0 points (No. 10 in ACC), 3.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists leading Miami to their 15th national tournament appearance as a program. Miami will be the eighth seed in the tournament and will matchup against South Florida in a battle of state supremacy to kick off the madness.
The Michigan Wolverines finished the season with a 22-6 record (13-4 conference play), tying for the most conference wins in program history. On Dec.19, they defeated then fifth-ranked Baylor Bears 74-68, making this the programs’ first-ever win over a Top-Five team. The Wolverines fell short in the Big 10 conference tournament losing to Nebraska 76-73 in the quarterfinal.
However, they still punched their ticket to the national tournament for the ninth time. Overall the year has been great for the Wolverines as head coach Kim Arico was voted Big Ten Coach of the Year by coaches and media. In addition, star player Naz Hilmon became the first player in program history to earn four first-team honors and the first player in Michigan basketball history to record 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in their career. Hilmon averaged 21.0 points (No. 4 Big Ten)and 9.4 rebounds (No. 4 in Big Ten) while shooting 56.5 percent from the field this season. Michigan will be a three-seed in this year’s tournament and face American in their first-round matchup.