Selection Sunday and the biggest questions from the women’s NCAA committee

After a wild February and an even more exciting start to March, Selection Sunday has arrived.

We’ve evaluated schedules, quality wins, questionable losses, net rankings and commentary from games across the country in ESPN’s ever-evolving women’s bracketology over the past six weeks. Sunday night (8 ET, ESPN/ESPN app), it’s the selection committee’s turn to wrap up the process one final time and reveal the road map for the next three weeks to the 2023 NCAA Tournament bracket.

With the five final automatic berths on the line on Sunday, the committee continues to meet in Indianapolis, trying to figure out answers to the biggest questions: Which teams to include and where to field those teams, especially Formally this year at the top of the S curve. But there is subtlety in all of that. Some things are black and white; Most are not.

As the clock ticks down to ESPN’s selection show, we tackle the most pressing questions for the committee and analyze the information the 12 people will use to draw the final conclusions — some of which The first game can be checked either as a tip or as a whole. March Madness.

No. 1 Seed: Freshman or Resume?

The biggest decision facing the committee is how to fill the No. 1 seed line. South Carolina and Indiana should already be written in ink. But the committee can still use the pencil for the other two positions. Iowa, Stanford, UConn and Virginia Tech are all under consideration.

The most intense conversations in the committee room can be had just about how a team has been playing recently in comparison to its overall performance. Virginia Tech checks both of those boxes with 11 consecutive wins and a 10-2 record against the Net Top 25. The Hokies’ first ACC Tournament title is also an important part of the resume. While the Hokies have the lowest net ranking of the four teams (UConn is 2, Stanford is 4 and Iowa is 6), it will be a mild surprise if Virginia Tech is not the No. 1 seed on Sunday evening. This would be the best seed in program history, eclipsing the previous highest seed of No. 4 in 1999.

A debate between Iowa and Stanford would come down to a clear difference of philosophy. The Cardinals have the better full-season body of work, with a slightly tougher schedule, a 9-3 record against the Net Top 25 and a 15-4 mark against the Net Top 50, which ties South Carolina for the most wins . Social class. Iowa’s records in those two categories are 6–4 and 12–5, respectively. Stanford also has a regular-season conference championship on its resume.

Iowa won the Big Ten Tournament, and it is the hottest of the two teams. The Hawkeyes won seven of their last eight games with wins over Indiana, Maryland and Ohio State – all teams that would be in the Top 16 – during that stretch. Stanford lost only two of its last eight games but also failed to reach the finals of the Pac-12 Tournament.

UConn could be the wild card. It will be interesting to see how the committee views the Huskies through their struggles versus the Big East Tournament in February. Part of UConn’s resume that is 11-3 against the net top 25 and No. 2 in the overall net rating suggests the potential for a No. 1 seed. However, losses to Marquette and St. John’s in the final month – plus struggles against DePaul and Georgetown, teams with losing records – are also part of the Huskies’ story. How Azzi Fad’s absence and return plays into this is also a compelling topic.

The loss is another way to compare Iowa, Stanford and UConn — and it’s staggering how similar they are. Let’s just start with the raw numbers: The Cardinals and Huskies each have five. Hawkeye has six.

Iowa lost to Kansas State (“Next Four Out”) and Illinois (a projected No. 9 seed). Stanford was trailed by Washington (“Next Four Out”) and USC (No. 8 seed). UConn lost to a pair of teams – Marquette and St. John’s – that are among the “Final Four”. UConn and Iowa both lost to Maryland. The Huskies and Cardinals each lost to South Carolina. Iowa also lost to the No. 1 seed (Indiana). UConn’s loss to Notre Dame coincided with Stanford’s loss to Utah; Those teams are No. 6 and 7 in net. Iowa lost UConn’s face-off at Oregon on November 27 – 86-79 – which may be big … or may not be a factor considering the difference in those two teams.

Which teams are in the top 16 and will host?



Emily Ryan’s dagger 3 sealed Iowa State’s win over Oklahoma

Emily Ryan beats out the shot clock with a deep 3-pointer to book Iowa State’s spot in the Big 12 Tournament Championship Game.

Oklahoma’s 82-72 loss to Iowa State in Saturday’s Big 12 tournament made a decision too easy for the committee. The Sooners were the only team that could earn their way into the Top 16 for the right to host first and second round NCAA tournament games. A loss in Saturday’s semi-final ended that prospect, seemingly clinching a Top 16 spot.

North Carolina and Villanova are now No. 15 and No. 16. The Wildcats appeared in both NCAA top-16 appearances, and have a No. 12 net ranking. North Carolina is 21, but is 6-7 against teams ranked in the Net Top 25. That’s as many wins in that important category as the next teams on the list, Colorado and Tennessee, combined. Oklahoma has only two with a net rating of 36. The Sooners needed two more wins, as well as what would have given them Big 12 championship prestige, to pass the other contenders.

Texas has reached the Big 12 title game, and if the Longhorns can win their second consecutive conference tournament crown, they should move from the No. 4 seed to the No. 3 seed. That would pit Duke with the No. 4 seed.

Bubble: Who’s in, who’s out?

Reversals at the WCC and AAC tournaments this week reduced the spots available at the majors. But as more games were played, the number of teams with good chances to fill the last few bids also decreased. The bubble appears below for the three teams (all of whom have played) battling for a spot. Like the question surrounding the No. 1 seed, the choice of final spot in the field may come down to philosophy. St. John’s is currently seeded as the last team in the region, followed by Columbia and West Virginia. And resumes in this matter are different.

The Red Storm has the best wins with wins over UConn and Creighton. The Mountaineers have the largest collection of good wins with a 5–5 record against teams ranked 26 to 50 in net. Columbia has the best net numbers (44) of the three, shares the Ivy League regular-season title and plays the better non-conference schedule. If St. John’s and West Virginia are left out, it is almost certain that the committee will point to their poor non-programs. The Lions’ quality win starts and ends with an overtime victory over Princeton and a Thanksgiving weekend upset of Miami. It helps that both were on the road, but it’s a poor foundation on which to build a resume.

So is it having a good number of wins (West Virginia), beating a better quality of opponent (St. John’s) or trying to play a better schedule (Columbia)? When we see which team takes the field, we’ll know where the committee is leaning on that debate.

Health and availability of key players



Olivia Myles in obvious pain with knee injury

Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return.

That Fudd missed 22 games this season but was a key player in several of UConn’s crucial November victories — and is now back after a second long layoff — is one of the injury-related topics before the committee.

Rory Harmon missed games early in the season for Texas, including a November 14 loss against the Huskies. The Longhorns struggled without him (2-3 to start the campaign) but went on to win the Big 12 regular-season crown, and are in Sunday’s tournament championship game.

North Carolina missed some key players in mid-February and lost three ACC games during that time. Will this affect the Tar Heels’ chances of making the Top 16?

It may be the biggest question the committee can’t answer. Will Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles, who injured her knee in the regular-season finale against Louisville and missed the ACC tournament, be ready to go in the NCAA tournament? And if he isn’t, how does that affect the seed of the Fighting Irish? It seems unlikely, even if Miles can’t go, Notre Dame will be completely out of the top 16. However, a No. 4 seed instead of a No. 3 is a possibility, and it could significantly change the path of a Final Four.

It all depends on how much information about Miles is given to the committee.

The question also applies to the status of NC State point guard Diamond Johnson, who hasn’t played since February 16 because of an ankle injury. The Wolfpack looks like the No. 7 seed right now, but if Johnson isn’t playing, it’s possible it could drop them to a less desirable position in an 8- or 9-seed scenario.

Even if their seeds are not affected, playing without Miles and Johnson would significantly hinder their chances of NCAA tournament success for these teams.

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