Luckily, they’ll get to exorcise some of them on the court and some of them in the WNIT.
If you want to read about the committee’s process, chair Terry Gawlik answered questions in Indianapolis. (Thanks, ASAP):
Q. Just talk for a second on the last couple of teams that got in, I know it’s not one team or two teams you guys decide on it’s usually four or so. But seems like Michigan and Virginia were the two that got snubbed most than anyone else. Talk about the last two teams that got in.
TERRY GAWLIK: Certainly I can talk about that. We had obviously the last four that went in were in alphabetical order, Auburn, California, Purdue and UNI.
And the First Four out were George Washington, Michigan, South Dakota State and Virginia. In particular, you asked about Michigan. They had an overall 22-9 record, were 11-6 in conference. I think what set with the committee, in Michigan’s case, they only had limited wins in the left column. They had no top-50 — sorry, they didn’t have any wins in the left column. No top-50 wins at all. So no top 25, no top-50 wins, and their strength of schedule was 101.
They also had a bad loss to Xavier. At the time their RPI was 207, and they lost four out of the last five games. And as you know they lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
Folks who are shaking their heads…
Some observations from the 2017 women’s NCAA tournament bracket:
Regular-season performance in conference play didn’t matter
The seeding of a number of teams indicates that this committee didn’t take regular-season conference performance into consideration much at all. And that is a bad message. Conference record is supposed to matter. It’s a posted criterion.
I come here not to bury the NCAA women’s selection committee, nor to praise it. More to say, “This 2017 bracket has some flaws.”
It seemed kind of a step backward after a good run of brackets that appeared to add up, if you will, for the past few years. There was a time when that wasn’t the case. Looking back to the early to mid-2000s, there sometimes were more questions about the committee’s decisions than there were good answers.
To its credit, the NCAA really worked on this, meeting with journalists who covered the sport in 2007 to talk frankly about what both sides were seeing as problems and how to try to solve them. Then the mock-bracket opportunities with both coaches and media, which started in 2008, helped clarify the process. There is no doubt the NCAA has improved its women’s basketball brackets in the past decade.
However, this 2017 bracket has just enough head-scratchers to puzzle you. Part of this, we understand, is that the women’s committee faces one big issue that the men’s committee doesn’t really worry about: attendance.
On the flip side:
A tense moment inside the Northern Iowa film room quickly turned into jubilation Monday night.
March Madness: Cal women get surprise
Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb announced her engagement Monday on Twitter to long-time partner Patrick Martin.
Later in the day, all she could talk about was the Golden Bears’ surprising ninth seed in the Oklahoma City region of the NCAA tournament.
“I’m trying to just keep it all together,” Gottlieb said Monday night.
“I worry sometimes about being at home. I worry about the distractions that kids have,” Auriemma said. “When you are on the road you can just huddle everybody up and you can eliminate a lot of distractions. Sometimes the officials get funny against the home team in the NCAA Tournament.”
While the Huskies won’t have to leave the state until potentially heading to Dallas for the national semifinals, the other No. 1 seeds aren’t as lucky. South Carolina is the top seed in Stockton, California. The Gamecocks are headed out of the Eastern time zone for the third time in four seasons. The Gamecocks’ lone trip to the Final Four came when they played a regional in Greensboro in 2015.
Expert picks: Breaking down the bracket
Oklahoma City: Baylor won’t have to travel far. Mississippi State was at one point this season considered a No. 1 seed. Washington has the nation’s best player in Kelsey Plum. Louisville has beaten Baylor in a regional before. And Tennessee has beaten two of the four No. 1 seeds this year. — Creme
Oklahoma City: From Mississippi State’s defense to Kelsey Plum’s singular talent to DePaul’s pace to the Siren-like one-game potential of Louisville and Tennessee, Baylor’s quadrant of the bracket is a maze of unique challenges. — Hays
Lexington: The top of this region looks much like it did last year, when it was also in Lexington, and No. 1 Notre Dame didn’t make it out then. Standing in the way this year for the Irish might be regional host Kentucky, and then possibly Texas or Stanford; the Cardinal ousted the Irish a year ago. — Voepel
4. Maryland got hosed.
The committee clearly wasn’t impressed with the Big Ten Conference in women’s basketball, either — Michigan not making the field is stunning — but the 30-2 Terrapins’ No. 3 seed is particularly stunning. One of their losses came in a close, memorable one to UConn, and the other was at Ohio State, the conference’s only other high-level team. The Terps didn’t have many great wins (No. 4 seed Louisville stands tallest), but their résumé was much less blemished than several No. 2 seeds.
FiveThirtyEight notes: UConn Is Facing Its Toughest Tournament In Years
The women’s NCAA tournament bracket is out, and the Connecticut Huskies have a 52 percent chance to capture their 12th national championship and seventh undefeated season under coach Geno Auriemma, according to our March Madness predictions.
You can check out their game-by-game predictions if you’d like some help filling out your brackets.
1. How long will the tournament’s other headliner be around?
With apologies to Baylor, Notre Dame and South Carolina, No. 1 seeds all, there are two main acts in women’s basketball at the moment. One is Connecticut and its pursuit of a fifth consecutive national title, 113 consecutive wins and perhaps some viticulture awards for Geno Auriemma.
The other is whether someone who has already scored more points than any player in college basketball history can score sufficiently more points to again borrow some of the Final Four spotlight from those other Huskies. It would be one final way for Washington’s Kelsey Plum to get the best of Jackie Stiles.
Moving to the matchups…Mechelle: UConn is once again the heavy favorite — but what obstacles might await?
So, as we asked at the start, what could lead to UConn losing? The Huskies virtually never beat themselves, so it’s going to take an opponent having a very, very good game.
The Huskies could face an annoyed Syracuse team in the second round; the Orange can’t be happy with their No. 8 seed or their placement. Last year, these teams met in the national championship game, won 82-51 by UConn.
Still, the odds of the Huskies losing at home are pretty close to zero. So we move to the Bridgeport Regional, and this is where it could get interesting. Maybe.
USA Today offers up 2017 NCAA women’s tournament: Oklahoma City region capsules
On the last Thursday before their most important stretch of the season, the Maryland women’s basketball team held a brief practice and then scattered across the country. Guard Kristen Confroy visited her brother and his two kids in Nashville. Scoring star Shatori Walker-Kimbrough went to see her family in Pittsburgh. Destiny Slocum headed home to Idaho. Head coach Brenda Frese went on a weekend getaway with her husband to Miami, where they drank red wine, read books and walked along the beach.
This is the time for a frenetic overdose of basketball, not the time for wine and beaches, right? Why not stay in College Park and clean up some defensive principles?
“All you can do is grind your kids more,” Frese said by way of explanation.
Tennessee’s wins mattered more than its losses. How else can you interpret its No. 5 seeding in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament?
Again, if your team missed the NCAA, check out the WNIT.