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N.C.A.A. Tournament: South Carolina Is Locked at No. 1 Ahead of Shuffling


The final matchups of the regular season should offer some intrigue as teams jockey for seeding in conference tournaments and the national tournament.

On Friday night, an overperforming No. 10 Indiana (19-6, 11-4) faces an underperforming Maryland at home (8 p.m. Eastern time, Big Ten Network).

The Hoosiers beat Maryland in January, and now are just one win behind the Terrapins in a crowded field at the top of the Big Ten. If Maryland wins, there’s a chance it’ll be able to eke out its fourth-straight regular-season conference title and the top seed in the Big Ten tournament; if it loses, it’ll fall to the middle of the pack.

On Sunday, Louisville and North Carolina State will each close the regular season against ranked opponents whom they have already beaten. The Cardinals will face No. 14 Notre Dame (noon, ESPN2), and the Wolfpack will take on No. 23 Virginia Tech (6 p.m., ACC Network). An upset loss for either team could take them out of the top four overall seeds and create a steeper road toward the A.C.C. title.

In the Southeastern Conference, South Carolina’s stranglehold on the top spot has quieted some of its usual competitors. But new-look Louisiana State has sneaked into the top 10 for the first time in 13 years with Kim Mulkey at the helm, and is looking to make a run in the N.C.A.A. tournament despite not having qualified since 2018.

On Sunday, the eighth-ranked Tigers will play No. 16 Tennessee (2 p.m., ESPN2), a team that started strong but has been bullied recently, losing four of six — albeit to a difficult group of opponents that included Connecticut and South Carolina — before winning Thursday.

Mulkey’s former team, Baylor, is hardly languishing in her absence, though. The Bears will play Iowa State on Monday (7 p.m., ESPN2), with NaLyssa Smith, one of the best players in the country, center stage as she tries to pull the Bears atop the Big 12.

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