Between now and the beginning of April, teams feel the pressure of having to play their best and win every game – either to get into March Madness, or survive it. Some schools have guaranteed their spot in the bracket after winning their conference tournaments, some have a shot to win this week, and some schools may be stealing a spot from a bubble team.
After reviewing the lay of the land in the men’s tournament schedule yesterday, let’s see how the women’s looks today.
Weekend auto-bid recap
Between Saturday and Sunday, nine automatic bids were cashed.
The OVC was first, sending the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles after they upset the Little Rock Trojans 54-46. An overtime win for the A10 saw the Saint Louis Billikens upset the UMass Minutewomen, 91-84. The SoCon conference cashed in their bid at the same time, sending the Chattanooga Mocs after they upset the Wofford Terriers 63-53.
— Ohio Valley Conference (@OVCSports) March 7, 2023
The ACC is expected to send several teams to March Madness this year. One team who won’t be nervous come Selection Sunday is the Virginia Tech Hokies, who beat the Louisville Cardinals 75-67, to claim the automatic bid. Unsurprisingly, the South Carolina Gamecocks won the SEC tournament, keeping their undefeated season intact. They beat the Tennessee Volunteers, 74-58.
HOKIES MAKING HISTORY. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/JjUdXNiOcU
— ACC Women's Basketball (@accwbb) March 5, 2023
The Big10 saw a Hawkeyes vs Buckeyes matchup with Iowa coming out on top, 105-72. At the same time, a UCLA Bruins team, who upset Stanford to make it into the championship game, was playing against a Washington State Cougars team, who had to upset Utah, then Colorado, to make it into this game. Washington State came out on top after their third upset in a row, 65-61. The last bid on Sunday went to the Gardner–Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs, when they beat the High Point Panthers, 74-61, to win the Big South Tournament.
Early week bid-winners
Five more teams have claimed their spot thus far this week.
Monday started out with the championships for both the Sun Belt and Big East conferences. The James Madison Dukes beat the Texas State Bobcats for the Sun Belt bid (81-51), while the UConn Huskies beat the Villanova Wildcats for the Big East bid (67-56).
Three-bid-Tuesday saw the Cleveland State Vikings upset the Green Bay Phoenix, 73-61, to claim the Horizon League bid. The South Dakota State Jackrabbits took the Summit League bid when they beat the Omaha Mavericks 93-51. The WCC wrapped up the day with a matchup between the Portland Pilots and Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Pilots won 64-60.
This week’s conference championships
Every day this week, a conference champion will solidify their spot in March Madness. Five have already claimed their spot, and another five will by week’s end. These championships are of the absolute importance because they are all one-bid leagues. Meaning, if you don’t win, you’re not in.
Friday (3/10): American East (5:00pm ET) – #2 UAlbany vs #1 Vermont
By the end of the week, 18 automatic bids in total will be known. The remaining 14 bids will be played for between Saturday (3/11) and Sunday (3/11) this coming weekend.
The week of thieves
For each stolen bid, one bubble team misses out on dancing in March Madness.
Four conferences playing this week have a top-ranked team who will more than likely receive an outright bid. Any upsets in the Summit, WCC, Mountain West, or AAC championship games mean a bid was stolen. Fans of these teams are cheering for their teams’ one shot of making it, while fans of bubble teams are cheering for no surprises.
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits received multiple votes to be in the AP’s Top 25, despite ultimately missing out. They ended up winning their conference tournament against Omaha on Tuesday afternoon, resulting in the Summit League remaining a one-bid conference.
Had Omaha upset SD State, SD State would have more than likely still gone to the Dance with an Offensive Rating of 112.2, Defensive Rating of 86.2, eFG% of 53.4%, and overall Net Rating of 26.1. Of the four teams mentioned here, SD State scores highest for Offensive Rating, eFG%, and overall Net Rating; only their Defensive Rating is lower than the others.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are ranked #15 in the country, so they’ve earned their spot in March Madness already, even though they were upset by Portland in their conference championship Tuesday evening. This upset means the WCC will be sending two teams to the Dance this year. The Bulldogs have an Offensive Rating of 110.6, Defensive Rating of 90.4, eFG% of 52.1%, and overall Net Rating of 20.3.
Bid: SNATCHED@WCChoops: CHAMPS
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) March 8, 2023
The Lady Rebels are the #22 team in the country. We’ll see UNLV again, even if they don’t win their conference tournament. UNLV has the same Offensive Rating as #15 Gonzaga at 110.6, but they score slightly lower in Defensive Rating of 89.2, eFG% of 51.3%, and overall Net Rating of 21.3. They play the Wyoming Cowgirls Wednesday night (10pm est).
The #25 team in the country, the South Florida Bulls, will more than likely make the March Madness tournament outright. This would be great for the Bulls since they lost in the quarterfinals against a Wichita State Shockers team, 65-53. The Bulls have an Offensive Rating of 106.3, Defensive Rating of 87.9, eFG% of 51.4%, and Net Rating of 18.6. The Wichita State Shockers will match up against the Houston Cougars Wednesday evening (5pm est).
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