Breaking Down the 2021-22 Battle for Atlantis field

UConn, South Carolina and Oregon headline deep tournament

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SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 29:The UConn Huskies take on the Baylor Lady Bears in the Elite Eight round of the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Alamodome on March 29, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 29:The UConn Huskies take on the Baylor Lady Bears in the Elite Eight round of the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Alamodome on March 29, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

The teams who will be participating in the first-ever Women’s Battle 4 Atlantis have been announced and they are Connecticut, South Carolina, Oregon, South Florida, Syracuse, Buffalo, Oklahoma and Minnesota.

The tournament will take place from Nov. 20 to Nov. 22, 2021 in The Bahamas at Atlantis Paradise Island. The teams competing have won a combined 12 NCAA championships (11 for UConn and one for South Carolina), have been to a combined 30 Final Fours and have won a combined 43 conference championships.

It should be an exciting and intriguing three days of basketball with loads of talent on display.

UConn announced on Tuesday that one of its key players in Anna Makurat will be transferring this offseason, but the team had no seniors this year and will return its five stars in Paige Bueckers, Christyn Williams, Evina Westbrook, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards from a Final Four run. The Huskies also bring in the No. 1 recruit in the nation in Azzi Fudd and three other top 30 prospects. With Fudd teaming up with the 2020-21 AP Player fo the Year in Bueckers, UConn may be the early favorite to win the national championship next year and will highlight this tournament.

South Carolina is looking forward to seeing what superstars Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke can do as upperclassmen. The inside-out duo has wreaked havoc over the SEC the past two seasons and both players will be juniors in 2021-22. The Gamecocks also return their next-four-best scorers in Destanni Henderson, Victaria Saxton, Brea Beal and Laeticia Amihere as they try to make it back to the Final Four as well.

Oregon brought in the No. 1 Hoop Gurlz recruiting class in the nation in 2020 and will return all of those players as sophomores, as well as leading scorer and rebounder Nyara Sabally, a 6’7 forward with a high ceiling in Sedona Prince and a sharpshooter who had plenty of success at Maryland in Taylor Mikesell. Among the rising sophomores are No. 11 recruit Te-Hina Paopao, who was injured during this year’s Sweet 16 run but was the team’s best freshman, and No. 8 recruit Sydney Parrish, who was a solid contributor in 2020-21.

South Florida is returning rebounding machine Bethy Mununga and shot-blocking star Shae Leverett, each for a super senior year. They also return scorers in Elena Tsineke and Sydni Harvey and their top distributor in Elisa Pinzan from a team that may have been under-seeded as an 8-seed in the NCAA Tournament and lost in the second round to No. 1 seed NC State.

Syracuse was also a No. 8 seed in the tourney and lost to UConn in the second round. The Orange will look like a completely different team with Tiana Mangakahia declaring for the WNBA Draft and 10 players from this year’s team entering the transfer portal.

Oklahoma just missed out on the NCAA Tournament and returns its top scorer in Madi Williams, who set a new Sooner single-game record with 45 points back on Jan. 3. Buffalo went 15-9 last year (11-6 MAC) and also returns a very prolific scorer in rising junior Dyaisha Fair (24.1 points per game).

Minnesota has struggled the past two seasons after a good first year under head coach Lindsay Whalen in 2018-19. The Golden Gophers will have a great opportunity to test themselves early in this competitive tournament.