Who's up next for UConn?
There are some decisions for the selection committee to deal with especially in the Pac-12 where the top teams took turns knocking each other off. The NCAA/ESPN women's tournament loves its story lines and they haven't exactly hidden that fact with the way brackets have been set up in the past so seeing Stanford being sent to Bridgeport as the No. 2 seed would not surprise me since it would set up the Samuelson vs. Samuelson matchup in the regional final if the seeds hold true to form. Of course, in the past teams winning their conference tournament often get rewarded in the seeding process so could Stanford be kept close to home by being the No. 2 seed in Stockton? One factor hurting Stanford is a 6-5 mark against top 50 RPI squads
I am also curious to see how the committee looks at the resumes of the Texas, Louisville and UCLA, teams with six games against top 10 RPI teams and either 13 or 14 games with top 50 RPIs. Then there is North Carolina State, a team with a 2-0 record against top 10 RPI teams but three losses to teams outside the top 100 (good luck trying to make sense of their resume).
Most of the interest will be focused on the No. 2, 3 and 4 seeds with seemingly UConn, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Baylor expected to be No. 1 seeds. At first I wondered whether Baylor's loss to West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament would knock the Lady Bears out of the first line but they have a significant advantage over other potential No. 1 seed with nine wins against teams with top 25 RPIs and 12 wins against teams with top 50 RPIs.
Just looking at the numbers and Maryland would seem like the natural fit as the No. 2 in UConn's regional with one game against a top 10 RPI team (a loss to UConn), a 1-2 record against teams with top 25 RPIs (easily the lowest total among teams in contention to be among the top 8 seeds). However, in the past the committee has rewarded teams which won both the regular season and tournament titles and Maryland did both (tying Ohio State for the regular-season title)
Top Top Top Outside
10 25 50 100
UConn 5-0 13-0 16-0 13-0
Notre Dame 3-1 9-2 12-3 10-0
South Carolina 2-2 9-2 11-4 14-0
Baylor 0-1 9-2 12-3 13-0
Mississippi State 0-2 4-4 11-4 12-0
Stanford 1-2 3-3 6-5 15-0
Oregon State 2-1 5-2 7-3 13-1
Maryland 0-1 1-2 5-2 18-0
Duke 1-3 7-4 9-4 16-1
Florida State 1-2 5-5 8-5 14-0
Washington 0-3 1-4 5-4 18-0
Louisville 0-6 4-7 7-7 14-0
Ohio State 1-3 2-4 4-5 16-0
Texas 2-4 4-6 7-7 11-0
UCLA 2-4 3-5 8-5 13-1
Miami 1-5 3-8 3-8 16-0
DePaul 0-3 2-3 4-7 16-0
NC State 2-0 2-4 4-5 15-3
Kentucky 1-4 3-5 5-9 13-1
The picture appears to be much clearer in trying to predict which team draws UConn in the first round especially with the results in the conference finals in the last two days with teams with RPIs in the 200s falling in the title games.
Had Bryant won the NEC title, it would have made sense for Bulldogs to be sent to Storrs and that would have made for quite the homecoming for Mansfield native Morgan Olander, the younger sister of Tyler Olander who was a member of two national championship teams with the UConn men's basketball program.
Now I would guess that newly-crowned Big South Tournament champion UNC Asheville figures to have the lowest RPI of the 64 teams in the bracket. The Bulldogs finished seventh in the conference with the No. 28 conference RPI during the regular season. It should be noted that in past years the selection committee hasn't followed the RPI numbers for the No. 16 seeds so while seeing UNC Asheville in Storrs would make the most sense to me although the committee could keep UNC Asheville closer to home by having them play at South Carolina or Duke in the subregional.
In the last 10 years three SWAC, three America East and two NEC teams have been sent to face UConn in the first round. I can't see NEC champion Robert Morris being picked as the No. 16 seed in UConn's bracket for two years in a row. America East champion Albany will not be a 16th seed leaving either SWAC champion Texas Southern or MEAC champ Hampton as most likely options based on RPIs and conference RPIs if UNC Asheville doesn't come here. It would be easy for Hampton to draw Duke and Texas Southern to square off with Baylor and if I were the one picking this field, that is the direction I would head.