South Carolina, Stanford, North Carolina State and Tennessee would be the top seeds if the women’s NCAA Tournament began now.
The NCAA selection committee revealed the teams in line for the top 16 seeds, although none of Thursday night's games were factored into the reveal.
“We had really good strong consensus on who the No. 1 seeds were and the No. 2 seeds were,” NCAA women’s basketball committee chair Nina King said. “There was a healthy discussion on the three and four lines. At this point in the season most teams have only got 5-6-7-8 conference games in.”
The top 16 seeds again will host the first- and second-round games, a year after the entire tournament was played in San Antonio because of COVID-19 concerns. While the coronavirus is still causing problems throughout the country, the NCAA expects to be able to play the tournament in its normal locations, including at campus sites for the first weekend. Bridgeport, Greensboro, Spokane and Wichita will host the regionals and Minneapolis has the Final Four on April 1 and 3.
King said the committee talked about teams that have been affected by COVID-19 and also injuries that have sidelined some of the country's top players.
“Certainly factors and something we recognize for sure,” King said. “Who was available? Why a team lost. Was it a little or a lot?”
She also said that the NCAA will announce in the next week or so a waiver process if teams don’t reach the minimum number of 25 games required to play in the tournament because of COVID issues. So far this season more than 460 women’s games have been postponed because of the virus.
The NCAA decided to expand the women's tournament to 68 teams, matching the men, and the first four games will also be on campus sites.
The No. 1-ranked Gamecocks were projected to be the top seed in the Greensboro region. They would be joined by Arizona, Michigan and Kansas State. Stanford would be the top team in the Spokane region and would have Texas, UConn and Georgia.
This would move UConn out of the Northeast and King said that a big reason why is that the committee wanted to make sure the bracket was balanced and that teams from the same conference were separated.
“We weren’t going to move teams from those lines just to put UConn in Bridgeport for geography purposes,” King said. “At this point they are a three-seed. Maybe they play their way up to 1-2 line.”
Tennessee would be in Wichita with Louisville, Iowa State and Oregon. N.C. State would headline the Bridgeport Region with Indiana, LSU and Baylor.
King said there were about four or five other teams in the discussion to be in the top 16 including Notre Dame, Oklahoma, BYU and Georgia Tech.
The NCAA will go back to revealing the bracket on selection Sunday this year, March 13 with the opening round games to begin a few days later.
“So much could change. Teams could play their way up or down,” King said. “We talked about teams. Compared them to each other. Make sure we had the right 16.”
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