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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A look at UConn's possible opening opponents

My days of trying my own version of bracketology are a thing of the past since the last few times I tried to break down the potential women's basket did not end well.

I will make an attempt to see which team draws the assignment of being UConn's first-round opponent.

Sometimes it isn't too hard to figure out like a season ago when St. Francis (N.Y.) had a losing record, was in close proximity to UConn and had an RPI close to 250 and strength of schedule around 275.

If Sacred Heart had won the NEC tournament, I would have considered the Pioneers as the favorites to be the No. 16 seed in UConn's bracket. Robert Morris, located in Pittsburgh, is far enough away that I don't see geography necessarily coming into play.

Alabama State out of the SWAC has the lowest or highest RPI depending on how you want to look at it, the SWAC is ranked 32nd and dead last in conference RPI and according to the Sagarin ratings, rank 348 out of 349 teams in strength of schedule so all the criteria is there although past selection committees haven't always followed RPI numbers in picking the No. 16 seeds.

Robert Morris and North Carolina A&T are team I would think was in consideration to face the Huskies since they rank just ahead of Alabama State among automatic qualifying teams in terms of RPI and strength of schedule. With NC A&T's campus only about three hours from South Carolina's that would seem to be a natural No. 16 vs. No. 1 matchup.

When I heard that Buffalo won the MAC title as the No. 8 seed, I thought that might be a good fit for the Huskies but the numbers are surprisingly strong for the Bulls as I saw RPI rankings of 106 and 135 for Buffalo and a conference RPI of 10 for the MAC. I also looked at Jacksonville (Atlantic Sun), UNC Asheville (Big South) and Troy (Sun Belt) but believe it will come down to Alabama A&M, Robert Morris and NC A&T.

Here's a quick look at those three teams
Alabama A&M
Record: 18-11
NCAA RPI: 220
Conference: SWAC
Conference RPI: 32
Head coach: Freda Freeman-Jackson
Top scorer: Britney Wright 14.9 points per game

North Carolina A&T
Record: 17-11
NCAA RPI: 195
Conference; MEAC
Conference RPI: 31
Head coach: Tarrell Robinson
Top scorer: Aprill McRae 13.3 points per game

Robert Morris
Record: 19-12
NCAA RPI: 174
Conference: NEC
Conference RPI: 29
Head coach: Sal Buscaglia
Top scorer: A Niki Stamolamprou 13.8 points per game

The brackets will be announced from 7-8 p.m. on ESPN.    

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