- Charlie Creme, Women's College Basketball
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With Selection Sunday just three days away, we won't have time to answer your e-mails. But we have a good feeling we know what the hot topics will be. So, we've created our own FAQ: Frequently Anticipated Questions.
How did you arrive at these No. 1 seeds -- Duke, Purdue, Tennessee and Texas?
Penn State looks like a No. 1, walks like a No. 1 and quacks like a No. 1, right? Not quite. Though five teams put together incredibly strong résumés for a No. 1 seed, that would create a serious bracketing problem. So it came down to one point -- Purdue edged the Lady Lions 59-58 in the Big Ten final.
Tennessee and Duke seem indisputable, and if Texas wins the Big 12 tournament, it's hard to argue against the Longhorns. After looking like a No. 1 seed the entire season, Connecticut fell out of contention after losing two of its last four games. Simply put, the Huskies played their way out of the East's top spot.
Why was Duke sent to Seattle?
The short answer: Someone had to go.
With the East Regional in Hartford, it's likely the committee will want UConn to stay there as the No. 2 seed. Putting the Blue Devils in the same region would not have created as balanced a bracket. Keeping Texas in the Midwest maintains a possible Big 12 presence in that regional in Norman.
At least Duke will open the tournament at home no matter what.
Why only one bid for the Mountain West?
Frankly, it hasn't been a good conference at all this season. The Colonial, WAC, Sun Belt, WCC and Missouri Valley are all better-rated leagues, yet none of those will get more than one bid, either. Utah is the only MWC team in the RPI Top 50, but has zero Top-50 wins. The nonconference schedules played by UNLV and New Mexico are borderline embarrassing.
Why is Minnesota only a No. 6 seed?
Actually, the Gophers came in as a No. 7 seed on the S-curve, but were moved one line to accommodate a pre-determined site. That's because their profile isn't as strong as it once was. Sometimes, it's important to just look at the data and the wins and losses and try to forget what the school name is. That helps eliminate more subjectivity even if it is subconscious.
Minnesota lost four of its last six and only has three top-50 wins all season, none in the last month. Of course, that was without injured Lindsay Whalen, but that enters the picture as well. Her status for the tournament is still largely unknown. She is practicing and has said she expects to play, but no one is certain. If there is any doubt, the committee will have to look at the time Minnesota played without her as more indicative of the Gopher team that will enter the tournament, and thus seed them accordingly. Plus, Minnesota's RPI and SOS have dipped into the 30s and 50s, respectively.
Why Marquette and not Memphis?
These teams seemed to have near-identical profiles a few weeks ago, and then both won three of their last four. But differences do exist. Two of Marquette's wins in the final stretch were over DePaul, while Memphis grabbed two against sub-150 St. Louis. That helped pushed Marquette's RPI nine spots higher, and the Golden Eagles have four top-50 wins to the Tigers' one.
What about Maryland, Arizona State, N.C. State and Washington?
When it gets this late in the year and the difference between clubs is so narrow, it's best to ask these questions of the contenders -- Who did you beat? Where did you beat them? When did you beat them?
Of the above teams, only N.C. State won as many as three games against the top 50. One of those was on the road at North Carolina, which is impressive. But the Wolfpack's 16-14 overall record is tough to overlook. The others have slightly better records, but other major holes. Arizona State finished poorly. Maryland has just one good win, and that was on Jan 2. Washington's one good victory goes back even further.
Mississippi, the last team in this bracket, has three top-50 wins, more road wins than the rest, and an SOS in the 30s.
So there you have it. And though many more questions probably exist, we'll all the answer from the people who truly matter on Sunday. And then we can really pencil in our brackets.
A look at our final projected field of 64:
Last four in: Mississippi, UCLA, Richmond, Missouri
Last four out: Maryland, Washington, Utah, N.C. State
Charlie Creme can be reached at email@example.com.
19dBonnie D. Ford