Autostraddle March Madness 2024: ‘The Kids Are Alright’ Round of 32!

Header: The 6th Annual Autostraddle March Madness 2024

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You know how, sometimes, you wish and hope for a thing and then, when it finally happens, you’re just sick about it? That’s me right now, as I await the start of the women’s Sweet 16 today. I’m just a ball of nervous energy… it doesn’t help that both my alma mater’s teams play tonight — still mad about that — and I’ve been obsessively refreshing the Washington Post‘s homepage waiting on the Kim Mulkey story to drop. But I’ve got my work done, my schedule clear, the new Beyoncé album playing on repeat, and plenty of snacks so that I can enjoy today’s slate of games.

Just in case you forgot, here’s what’s on tap today (all games are on ESPN, all times Eastern):

  • Regional 1: #2 Notre Dame vs. #3 Oregon State @ 2:30pm
  • Regional 1: #1 South Carolina vs. #4 Indiana @ 5pm
  • Regional 4: #2 Stanford vs. #3 NC State @ 7:30pm
  • Regional 4: #1 Texas vs. #4 Gonzaga @ 10pm

I’m looking forward to watching freshman phenom Hannah Hildago lead Notre Dame against Oregon State this afternoon. Hildago and Sonia Citron might be the best backcourt pairing in the tournament so they’ll be tough for the Beavers to handle. But the Irish have a short bench — they’re rotating just six players in this tournament — and if Oregon State can use their depth to exhaust Notre Dame’s lineup or get them in foul trouble, the Beavers could punch their ticket to the Elite 8. In today’s second game, honestly, I just don’t know: South Carolina’s just playing at another level right now. I think that near loss to the Tennessee Lady Vols in the SEC tournament woke them up and the team realized they couldnn’t coast their way to a national championship. Case and point: back in December, South Carolina edged North Carolina out by just seven points but when those teams met again on Sunday, South Carolina won by 47 points. A forty point swing! I don’t know how you contend with that kind of dominance. Godspeed, Hoosiers.

Anyone who watched that epic Stanford-Iowa State match-up knows that Stanford’s success hinges on their frontcourt. Kiki Iriafen and Cameron Brink are formidable and if NC State wants to survive and advance, they have to find a way to contain them. That said, the Cardinal will have to contend with the Wolfpack’s backcourt — Saniya Rivers, Aziaha James and, off the bench, Zoe Brooks — who can be just as lethal. If the Wolfpack can get their transition game going, like the did in the first half against Tennessee, they neutralize what Brink and Iriafen can do on the defensive end. The nightcap between Texas and Gonzaga is going to be an interesting contrast of styles. Texas is going to bring their physicality and give Gonzaga’s Yvonne Ejim a lot of trouble in the post so, if the Zags want to get the win, their guards are going to need to step up. If they can light it up from distance — as the Zags are wont to do — then they got a shot at pulling the upset.

But while we enjoy the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen, we need to figure out which characters are going to be part of our third round. The votes from the first round are all in, the bracket’s been updated, and all that’s left is for you to cast your ballot. Let’s take a look at the match-ups for the Round of 32.

Brainiacs Region

In the Brainiacs Region: #1 seed Elena Alvarez vs. #8 seed Clare Devlin

#1. Elena Alvarez, One Day at a Time vs. #8. Clare Devlin, Derry Girls

In the Brainiacs Region: #3 seed Willow Rosenberg vs. #11 seed Leighton Murray

#3. Willow Rosenberg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer vs. #11. Leighton Murray, The Sex Lives Of College Girls

In the Brainiacs Region: #10 seed Ola Nyman vs. #15 seed Tess Pearson

#10. Ola Nyman, Sex Education vs. #15. Tess Pearson, This Is Us

In the Brainiacs Region: #12 seed Angelica Porter-Kennard vs. #13 seed Abbi Singh

#12. Angelica Porter-Kennard, The L Word: Generation Q vs. #13. Abbi Singh, The Imperfects

As a fan of March Madness, you want the chaos. Even if you’re in a bracket challenge and you’ve gone chalk, once you’re in the throes of the actual game, you’ll gladly toss your bracket aside for the excitement of a good Cinderella story. So, from a fan’s perspective, I’m most excited about this region, where we have five double-digit seeds advancing to the second round. Of those seeds, Abbi Singh stands out as the most Cinderella-esque, after having defeated a truly formidable opponent in the first round. I did not expect her to upset the Legacies alum.

You’ve set up some difficult choices for yourselves: Elena vs. Clare is just… I don’t even know who I’m going to pick for that one? And while I usually wouldn’t dare underestimate the Buffy fandom, there’s something about this moment — where Renee Rapp is literally everywhere — that makes me wonder if we’re on the verge of an upset there. Will y’all keep the chaos going?

Jocks Region

In the Jocks Region: #1 seed Casey Gardner vs. #8 seed Cheryl Blossom

#1. Casey Gardner, Atypical vs. #8. Cheryl Blossom, Riverdale

In the Jocks Region: #2 seed Emily Fields vs. #7 seed Kirt

#2. Emily Fields, Pretty Little Liars vs. #7. Kirt , Betty

In the Jocks Region: #3 seed Izzie Taylor vs. $6 seed Paige McCullers

#3. Izzie Taylor, Atypical vs. #6. Paige McCullers, Pretty Little Liars

In the Jocks Region: #4 Van Palmer vs. #5 Taissa Turner

#4. Vanessa “Van” Palmer, Yellowjackets vs. #5. Taissa Turner, Yellowjackets

I knew it might happen: if you have a couple in the same region and things go right for their fandom, they are going to have to meet at some point. Nonetheless, when your votes set up that Van vs. Taissa match-up in just the second round, I winced. That’s going to be tough. Another tough match-up I’m keeping my eye on: that Izzie-Paige test. I wonder how having their girlfriends in match-ups will impact their ability to move forward.

Rebels Region

In the Rebels Region: #1 seed Rue Bennett vs. #8 Syclla

#1. Rue Bennett, Euphoria vs. #8. Scylla Ramshorn, Motherland: Fort Salem

In the Rebels Region: #2 seed Tara Maclay vs. #7 Raelle

#2. Tara Maclay, Buffy the Vampire Slayer vs.#7. Raelle Collar, Motherland: Fort Salem

In the Rebels Region: #3 seed Ellie Williams vs. #11 seed Jordan Li

#3. Ellie Williams, The Last of Us vs. #11. Jordan Li, Gen V

In the Rebels Region: #4 seed Juliette Fairmont vs. #5 seed Cal Burns

#4. Juliette Fairmont, First Kill vs. #5. Calliope “Cal” Burns, First Kill

Jordan Li continues to be a standout in this tournament, advancing from the Final Four all the way to the Round of 32. But has she met her match in Ellie Williams? Earlier this week, Gen V head writer reveal that principal photography for the second season will start in the next few weeks so maybe that’ll help galvanize the fanbase and we’ll see an upset. Speaking of recent news, will the delay in the third season of Euphoria hinder or help Rue’s chances of advancing into the Sweet 16? We’ve got another match-up between girlfriends in the Rebels region as the vampire and her huntress finally do battle. I’ll be interested to see how that plays out.

Thesbians Region

In the Thesbians Region: #1 seed Santana Lopez vs. #9 seed Sage 5

#1. Santana Lopez, Glee vs. #9. Sage 5, Utopia Falls

In the Thesbians Region: #2 Brittany S. Pierce vs. #7 Brooklyn 2

#2. Brittany Pierce, Glee vs. #7. Brooklyn 2, Utopia Falls

In the Thesbians Region: #3. Kate Messner vs. #6 Elle Argent

#3. Kate Messner, Everything Sucks! vs. #6. Elle Argent, Heartstopper

#4 seed Coop vs. #12 seed Emaline

#4. Tamia “Coop” Cooper, All American vs. #12. Emaline Addario, Everything Sucks!

The Thesbians region ended up playing out a lot like the Rebels region had: the top four seeds all advancing to the next round and one First Four competitor — in this case, Everything Sucks‘ Emaline — advancing alongside. I wonder if Emaline’s presence here gives a boost to Kate or if Elle Argent’s wonderful story arc on Heartstopper can push her to victory. There’s no match-up between girlfriends in this round but, based on first round voting, it’s hard to imagine that Santana and Brittany aren’t on a collision course to meet in the Elite 8.

As usual, you have 48 hours to cast your ballot in the Round of 32! This year, you can vote four times over the voting period (or to be more precise once, every 12 hours) so feel free to take advantage of the extra opportunities. After we tabulate the votes and update the bracket, we’ll be back to announce which of these characters have advances to our Sweet 16! Bring on the Madness!

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A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 409 articles for us.


  1. – Elena Alvarez, One Day at a Time
    – Leighton Murray, The Sex Lives Of College Girls
    – Abbi Singh, The Imperfects (Come on, Abbi. You can do it.)
    – Cheryl Blossom, Riverdale (Cheryl, show them the boss bitch that you are.)
    – Emily Fields, Pretty Little Liars
    – Paige McCullers, Pretty Little Liars
    – Vanessa “Van” Palmer, Yellowjackets (Van, you can survive wolves and fire, you can survive this.)
    – Scylla Ramshorn, Motherland: Fort Salem
    – Raelle Collar, Motherland: Fort Salem
    – Jordan Li, Gen V
    – Santana Lopez, GLEE
    – Brittany S. Pierce, GLEE

    Please, vote for Abbi. I mean, just look at this little cutie patootie.

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