Women's Bracketology: Selection Sunday Final Projection

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Selection Sunday is here, and the AQs are locked up, with Maryland expected to take the No. 1 seed.


For the most part, tournament season went as scripted with multiple top seeds winning and few bubble teams getting major wins that would propel them into the field. From our view, 25 of the 26 teams that were projected last week will be in the field that will be announced tonight at 9 p.m. on NCAA.com.

The RPI and strength of schedule data is gleaned from LaxPower’s RPI replica (SOS can be found here).

SEEDING

Maryland (Big Ten champion) remains the overall top seed and UNC keeps its No. 2 spot.

A place of change was near the top. Penn State’s loss in the Big Ten semifinals and strong weekends by Princeton (Ivy League champion) and Florida (Big East champion) have shuffled seeds three through six. The Tigers will likely be the No. 3 seed followed by the Gators and Syracuse, all three of whom leapfrog the Nittany Lions, who will be the No. 6 seed. Stony Brook (America East champion) will hold firm at No. 7, but it would not be a surprise to see the Seawolves be seeded sixth as it has a win over Colorado, which beat Penn State. PSU’s win over Princeton and its eight top 20 wins has a better overall profile.

The eighth and final seed will come down profile and expense. Penn, USC (MPSF champion) and Colorado have similar profiles. Colorado’s profile matches up better with Penn in terms of quality wins (Colorado beat No. 6 Penn State; Penn beat No. 3 Princeton). USC defeated Colorado and with head-to-head being one of the five main criteria and little RPI space between them, it would be tough to imagine the Buffaloes being rewarded with a seed.

USC’s profile is not better than Penn’s, and because Penn can host local teams the bet is that Penn earns the last seed at No. 8.







ON THE BUBBLE

Of 13 at-large teams, 11 are firmly set. It is this projector’s opinion that three teams—Albany, Johns Hopkins and Louisville—are candidates for the final two spots. That means the likes of Elon and Towson, who did not win their conference tournaments, but could have been in trouble if there were upsets in the conference tournaments, will be in.

Let’s sort it out by blind resume. For this, we will take the five main criteria of RPI, head-to-head, common opponents, significant wins/losses (over RPI 30) and top 10 strength of schedule (top 10 opponents on each school’s schedule)/record. 

TEAM

RPI

SIG. WINS (TOP 25)

SIG. LOSSES (30+)

TOP 20 RPI (RECORD)

Team A 19 No. 21 None 14.2 (3-7)
Team B 20 No. 15 None 22.2 (5-5)
Team C 31 No. 5, No. 22 None 15.3 (3-7)

None of the teams played each other and in common opponent comparisons, none of the teams had any wins. Team A has a superior RPI because of its significantly tougher schedule (a top 20 non-conference slate), while Team C has a poor RPI despite quality wins due to poor non-conference scheduling (currently ranks 70th). All three teams have similar records over their top 10 opponents, with Team B's weaker schedule yielding a 4-6 record.

Comparing resumes head-to-head, Teams A and B have their RPI washed out because they’re so close. B would beat A with a more prominent significant win.

Teams B also holds a better RPI than Team C, but its significant win is 10 spots lower. Then B’s top 10 RPI higher (by seven spots), but has a two-game lead. The edge goes to team B in two of the three categories. But if secondary criteria are invoked, Team B is 1-5 against teams in the field, while Team C is 1-6. Last six has Team B going 5-1 against an average RPI of 53.5, while Team C went 2-4 with an average RPI of 12.0. Team B also has a slight edge here, too.

Let’s count B in as the 25th team in the tournament.

For the final slot, Team A has a better RPI than Team C, but Team C has a highly significant win (No. 5), and its win over No. 22 (non-tournament team) is similar to No. 21 (a non-tournament team). Their top 10 RPIs are similar and the records against their top 10 teams are identical 3-7. Common opponents are both 0-1. If the selection committee takes a one-for-one approach on criteria I could see it being deadlocked, which would then invoke secondary criteria.

Against the teams’ final six teams, Team A is 3-3 with an average RPI of 29.3. Team C is 2-4 with an average RPI of 12.0. It could be seen if the committee stops here and favors the better record or forgives Team B because of a tougher schedule. The committee could also see the record against teams already in the field, which would reveal that C’s record is 1-6 and B is 0-6.

It will come down to what the committee weighs more in importance: major wins that prove you should be in the field, which would favor Team C, or overall computer rankings, which would favor Team A. Standing back and looking at it another way, Team A is 1-7 (over No. 21) against Top 30 teams, while Team C is 2-7 (over Nos. 4 and 22). Committees like to see proof that the job can be done, which is why we will slide in Team C as the 26th and final team despite the poor RPI and SOS ranking.

Blind Resume Reveal

  • Team A: Johns Hopkins

  • Team B: Albany

  • Team C: Louisville

Automatic Bids (13)

 

RPI

SOS

North Carolina (ACC) 1 6
Maryland (Big Ten) 2 4
Princeton (Ivy League) 3 5
Florida (Big East) 4 2
Stony Brook (America East) 6 13
USC (MPSF) 13 17
James Madison (CAA) 14 10
Massachusetts (Atlantic 10) 18 31
Navy (Patriot League) 25 45
High Point (Big South) 28 60
Jacksonville (Atlantic Sun) 30 37
Canisius (MAAC) 32 55
Bryant (NEC) 48 91

At-Large Bids (13)

 

RPI

SOS

Syracuse 4 3
Penn State 7 12
Penn 8 21
Colorado 9 9
Northwestern 10 1
Virginia 11 7
Boston College 12 8
Cornell 15 18
Towson 16 20
Elon 17 28
Albany 20 16
Notre Dame 23 23
Louisville 31 34

First Four Out

 

RPI

SOS

Johns Hopkins 18 11
Denver 24 29
Virginia Tech 33 27
Loyola 21 14

Travel Breakdown

We have nearly the same 26 teams as last week with some teams improving their position on the S Curve (overall ranking used by the selection committee to rank teams 1-26), while some other teams slipped.

In the end, just five flights will be necessary as USC, Colorado, Northwestern, Louisville and Northwestern will be expected to fly. If the committee choses any of these teams to host, it could increase the number of flights in the case of USC or Colorado, or decrease the need of flights by one if Northwestern hosts (only Notre Dame or Louisville could go there since they’re both ACC foes). Having at least 19 of the 24 teams avoiding a flight will be preferred.

PROJECTED BRACKET          

A few reminders on bracket construction:

  • The committee seeds its top eight teams in the bracket and then evaluates travel situations. The committee limits travel and the amount of flights. With no Midwest team in the top eight, there will be more flights this year (5) than last year (3).

  • It’s possible a seeded team may not host due to factors such as facility availability. We anticipate each seed hosting and bracket them accordingly, the committee may not have that option (last season Penn was the seven seed, but traveled to a Towson-hosted pod, same thing happened with Syracuse’s pod going to Boston College).

  • Conference rematches are to be avoided in the first round

  • The seven and eight seeds host two games in the first round leading to a second-round game at its home site, while the top six seeds get byes into the second round.

College Park, Md.

Notre Dame vs. Towson
Winner plays at (1) Maryland (BIG TEN)

Philadelphia, Pa.

(8) Penn vs. Canisius (MAAC)
USC (MPSF) vs. Navy (PATRIOT)

Gainesville, Fla.

Colorado vs. Jacksonville (ATLANTIC SUN)
Winner plays at (4) Florida (BIG EAST)

Syracuse, N.Y.

Boston College vs. Albany
Winner plays at (5) Syracuse

Princeton, N.J.

Cornell vs. Louisville
Winner plays at (3) Princeton (IVY)

State College, Pa.

Virginia vs. James Madison (CAA)
Winner plays at (6) Penn State

Stony Brook, N.Y.

(7) Stony Brook (AMERICA EAST) vs. Bryant (NEC)
Northwestern vs. Massachusetts (ATLANTIC 10)

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Elon vs. High Point (BIG SOUTH)
Winner plays at (2) North Carolina (ACC)

Last Four In: Elon, Towson, Albany, Louisville

First Four Out: Johns Hopkins, Denver, Virginia Tech, Loyola

Multi-bid Conferences: ACC (6), Big Ten (3), CAA (3), Ivy League (3), MPSF (2), America East (2)

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