The Creighton Blue Jays became just the third 10-seed to make it to the Elite Eight in the history of the women’s tournament, and the fourth double-digit seed, after steamrolling the entire state of Iowa. This March’s second-best Cinderella story (because, come on, no one’s beating the Peacocks for that title) has overcome 3-seed Iowa State and 2-seed Iowa, along with the nation’s top scorer Caitlin Clark, to make it to the team’s first Elite Eight ever.
The Big East men’s team is a regular tournament contender, but the women’s team hadn’t been able to make it to Madness since 2018 and had never made it past the round of 32. This year, things have simply been clicking. Shots are falling — the Blue Jays can count themselves in the top five teams in the country in both effective field goal percentage and points per scoring attempt — and they have some serious depth on their roster. They also lead the nation in assists per game.
They’ll face South Carolina today, and whether anyone is able to beat Dawn Staley’s inimitable Gamecocks, who have only stumbled twice this season and have handily dealt with teams throughout the top 25, remains to be seen. It will be Creighton’s biggest challenge yet, and while my money would probably be on South Carolina, the Blue Jays’ very presence in this game is representative of a larger trend that’s been overtaking women’s ball.
Creighton’s three victories have added to a record-breaking nine wins from double-digit seeds in the women’s tournament this year. In a month that used to be predictable to a tee, with the top five or six teams far outperforming the rest of the field and then UConn taking home the trophy at the end of it all. For a long time, the “madness” of the wild upsets and total unpredictability that we were used to seeing in the men’s tournament didn’t quite translate to the women’s — which is why Creighton’s mere presence in this game is a big deal.
With six first-round upsets from double-digit seeds, though, the gradual push toward parity is gaining momentum. While no one-seeds have yet been toppled in the women’s tournament, compared to three already gone in the men’s, the Blue Jays might just have a chance Sunday night.