No. 2 seed Utah (27-4) vs. No. 3 seed LSU (30-2)

NCAA women’s basketball tournament Sweet 16

Friday, 3 p.m. MDT

Bon Secours Wellness Arena (Greenville, South Carolina)


Radio: 700 AM

‘Underdog mentality’: Higher-seeded Utes don’t care that LSU is favored to win Sweet 16 matchup Friday

How the Utes got here: Utah, the Pac-12 regular-season co-champions, beat Gardner-Webb 103-77 in the NCAA Tournament’s first round, then defeated Princeton 63-56 in the second round to advance.

How the Tigers got here: LSU, which earned an at-large NCAA bid as SEC runners-up, beat Hawaii 73-50 in the NCAA Tournament’s first round, then beat Michigan 66-42 in the second round to advance. 

Key players: Pac-12 Player of the Year Alissa Pili, like she’s been all year, has been the catalyst to the Utes’ attack during the NCAA Tournament. Her 61 points in the opening two rounds is the most in school history in a two-game stretch in NCAA Tournament play. She has also averaged 9.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game during the NCAAs.

LSU forward Angel Reese (10) flexes after LSU defeated Michigan in a second-round college basketball game in the women’s NCAA Tournament in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, March 19, 2023. | Matthew Hinton, Associated Press

Angel Reese has been the do-everything player powering LSU, and she’s upped her game in the NCAA Tournament. Through the first two rounds, she is averaging 29.5 points, 19.5 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game. In the win over Michigan, she put up 25 points, 24 rebounds and six blocks in the blowout win. 

What’s at stake: The winner of Friday’s game will face the winner of No. 4 seed Villanova and No. 9 seed Miami in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight on Sunday. 

Historical significance: This is the third time Utah has advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s regional semifinals in program history. 

The Utes have advanced to the regional finals, or Elite Eight, once before, in 2006. That year, Utah beat Middle Tennessee in the first round, Arizona State in the second round and Boston College in the Sweet 16 before falling to Maryland in overtime in the Elite Eight.