WNBA G.O.A.T Bracket Challenge – Selection Committee weighs in on Sweet 16

Greatest of All Time Player Bracket Challenge!

Our selection committee has come together once again to discuss the WNBA G.O.A.T Sweet 16. We shared our thoughts and opinions on the various players that made it into the Sweet 16. The updated bracket can be viewed here.

Just as a reminder, the selection committee members are: Kevin Brown, Nathan Hiatt, Lamar Smith, Michael Olsen, Aneela Khan and Glenn Starkey. We discussed our thoughts & opinions below. Enjoy!

Q: What were your initial thoughts on the Sweet 16?

Aneela: It’s an interesting field. All of the 16 WNBA players that have been voted in by WNBA Twitter users have great resumes and only one of them is under 30 years old. I would say that the variety of different players left that could be called the WNBA Greatest Player of All Time is definitely intriguing.

Glenn:  So the sweet 16 is set and so far, there are few surprises.  Voting did skew a bit towards the present players but aside from Yolanda Griffith not making it, I was not as taken aback by the finalists as others.

Kevin: Not many surprises in the S16, as there have been few upsets.  Brittney Griner as a #6 is the underdog, but she was seeded too low to begin with so it isn’t really a surprise.

Lamar: I’m very surprised Brittney Griner beat out Seimone Augustus. I think overall, Seimone is a better player and has had a better career overall. I feel Griner upset Seimone because she’s one of the more known WNBA players and has a strong fanbase.

Michael: I expected the sweet 16 to look something like this if I’m being honest. I think that all these women have earned their spots on this list.

Nathan: I think that the Sweet 16 has a really decent mix, and I believe that there are some extremely interesting matchups. There are a few matchups that I personally could see going either way for a Final Four spot. I think I am most intrigued for the matchup winner between Lauren Jackson and Elena Della Donne in Region N.

Q: What are your thoughts on both the Round of 32 and the Round of 64?

Aneela: There were some interesting match ups and there were some definitely some hard ones to vote for. Cash vs Vandersloot, Griffith vs Cash, etc. Breanna Stewart vs Maya Moore was the closest for the #1 seed in in terms of voting, all the #4 vs #5 matchups in the second round were too close to call.

Glenn: There were some players who were under seeded and Yolanda Griffith not advancing past round 1 was a crime, both in terms of seeding and many people not knowing how much of a presence Yolanda Griffith was in early history.

Kevin: The one major upset was Courtney Vandersloot over Yo Griffith.  Comes from the nature of the voting, I suppose.  Lots of newer fans who either never saw Griffith or only saw the over-the-hill version in Seattle and Indiana wouldn’t vote for her. Add in a little projection of what Vandersloot might do in the rest of her career and her also being seeded too low and it’s a shocker.

Lamar: Their weren’t many upsets but both were surprising upsets. Courtney Vandersloot and Skylar Diggins-Smith surprisingly advanced to the next round, I think decency bias had a lot to do with it. Especially in the case of Vandersloot because most people probably didn’t see Yolanda Griffith play. Everything else was very predictable.

Michael: I thought the voter turnout for the first two rounds was amazing! I am super excited to see what happens with the next rounds.

Nathan: I thought that the Round of 64 and Round of 32 went pretty straight-forward, but there were a few upsets. I was certainly the most shocked with the Yolanda Griffith loss against Courtney Vandersloot in the Round of 64. With Courtney Vandersloot currently a big name in the WNBA and many fans might not remember Yolanda Griffin, so that makes some sense.

Other than that, I was a little surprised with the Brittney Griner win against Seimone Augustus in the Round of 32 and the Skylar Diggins-Smith win against Deanna Nolan in the Round 64. I might have honestly picked Brittney Griner, as well, but definitely would have been a hard decision. It was a similar situation with Yolanda Griffith and Courtney Vandersloot and, then, Deanna Nolan and Skylar-Diggins Smith as Skylar Diggins-Smith has been extremely popular with fans since she was at Notre Dame.

Q: Who do you think will advance to the Final Four?

Aneela: I think Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings, Lauren Jackson and Lisa Leslie narrowly make the Final Four. Although I expect it to be really tough.

Glenn: Diana Taurasi, Elena Delle Donne, Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird.

Lamar: Cythnia Cooper, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Tina Thompson

Michael: I think the final four will be Diana Taurasi, Lauren Jackson, Tamika Catchings, and Lisa Leslie.

Nathan: Diana Taurasi vs. Lauren Jackson and Maya Moore vs. Lisa Leslie. All chalk.

Q: Any surprises or extra comments you would like to make on the tournament so far?

Aneela: Popularity definitely helps. Although, a ton of younger voters may not have had the pleasure of seeing some of the earlier players, so that’s why the voting could be skewed. But I think they did a pretty good job. I would I say agree with a large majority of their choices.

Glenn: The sweet 16 really shapes up for some close polls. In the  W region any one of the 4 remaining can be considered the GOAT based on the metric and DT and Swoopes who are my Elite 8 picks is a tough decision. It’s the  best of the first generation vs the best of the 2nd. In the N region, it is old vs new.  Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner surely will have their places in history but against Cynthia Cooper and Lauren Jackson, it gets pretty tough. In the B region, I sure hope Tamika Catchings gets her due but it will be tough against Maya Moore. In the A region, there are a variety of difficult choices to decide on who moves forward between Sue Bird, Tina Thompson and Lisa Leslie. 

Kevin: Region N should have the closest matchups in the S16.  Delle Donne is a tough #4 seed with her two MVPs.  In the other matchup, Cynthia Cooper’s best years happened two decades ago.  Easy to see the low seeds making both those races tight.  Regions W & A should also be competitive.  Region B…not so much.

Lamar: I think it’s been interesting to see how close a lot of the votes have been thus far. I think recency bias has played a lot in some of the voting. A lot of the players that played in the early stages of the WNBA were hurt by the lack of marketing and publicity. That’s why I think most of the Sweet 16 consists of players that played during an era where the WNBA started to establish footing.

Michael: I was a little shocked that Britney Griner beat out Seimone Augustus if I’m being honest. Personally, I’m hoping for more upsets because it creates more drama and draws more attention to the tournament as a whole!

Q: Final question, do you see any potential upsets happening? Do you see a #1 seed falling?

Aneela: Yes. I forsee that in the Region B where I can see the #1 seed falling to the #2 seed. Other than that, it will be very close. It will be very tough, no doubt about it.

Lamar: I think Lauren Jackson has the best chance of getting upset in her side of the bracket. Both EDD and Coop have big fanbases and are very accomplished players. EDD just won a championship last year and arguably is pretty comparable in talent to Jackson.

Michael:  I could see Tina Thompson beating out Sue Bird. I also think that Tamika Catchings will upset Maya Moore.
Nathan:  I personally wouldn’t pick any No. 1 seeds to get upset, but I think I could see a case with a Lauren Jackson loss to Elena Delle Donne and a Lisa Leslie loss to Sue Bird because current popularity in the WNBA.

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