The 2018 D1 Women's College Playoffs get underway this weekend with 16 of the top teams in the country competing in four different playoff brackets for a chance to win one of two championships.
The four separate brackets will decide the final four teams in the D1 Elite championship semifinals and final, to be played May 4-5 in Fullerton, CA.
Date: April 21-22 | Time: Starting at 9 AM ET
Meanwhile, the four teams that win on day one but lose on day two will play for the D1 spring title. So there's a championship possible at the end of it even if you don't win on day two.
Marietta, GA (April 21-22)
Host: Life University (LIVE on FloRugby)
Virginia Tech vs. Central Florida
Pitt vs. Life
There's little doubt that Life can get by the Mason Dixon's No. 4 team, Pittsburgh. Central Florida, meanwhile, has done superbly in winning Florida, dominating that conference (133 points for, 12 against). UCF should be favored against the Hokies.
Palo Alto, CA (April 21-22)
Host: Stanford University
Lindenwood vs. Stanford
UC Santa Barbara vs. Chico State
It wasn't that long ago that we'd expect Stanford to waltz through to the final. Not so now, as the host team has the might of Lindenwood to face. Stanford is led by No. 8 Lia Ferguson and can unleash some impressive firepower.
But Lindenwood is a national championship favorite and is coming off a gritty win over the St. Louis Sabres club.
"We brought the tempo today, we weren't timid and we didn't create excuses in the conditions we had," Lions head coach Billy Nicholas said. "I was proud of our mental resolve and effort today. It's clear the team has continually improved since the start of the season and we saw a lot of great things by everyone on the pitch today. It was a great finish to our local matches for the season."
UCSB vs. Chico State is a tighter matchup, as Santa Barbara, behind points machine Lauren Thunen at center, has lost only to Gold Coast Conference champion GCU. Chico State faltered early but blew the league late and should be favored.
Provo, Utah (April 20-21)
Host: Brigham Young University
Arizona State vs. BYU
Grand Canyon vs. UC Davis
This is the Pool of Death, as almost every single team is a threat to win the D1 Elite title. The Cougars of BYU, led by Sorensen Award nominee Grace Taito, should take care of Arizona State.
But GCU vs. UC Davis is more of a pick 'em game. Still, Grand Canyon showed its mettle in the conference final against UCSB on March 25 with a blistering performance. Center Julian White scored five tries in a 67-17 victory, and Davis will have to contain her to have a chance.
Greenville, NC (April 21-22)
Host: East Carolina University
Penn State vs. James Madison
North Carolina vs. Virginia
JMU has put some solid teams on the field before, but Penn State is a national title contender every single year. The Nittany Lions have talent all over, from prop Azniv Nalbandian to all-everything back Tess Feury. They can pound you up front and run around you, too.
(Oh and PSU won the Big Ten 7s just for good measure.)
Virginia is consistently near that level and should win over UNC.