8. March 2021
Charlie Cram predicts the women’s NCAA tournament for ESPN.com.
With the ACC, Pac-12 and SEC tournaments in the books, the No. 1 seed for the 2021 NCAA women’s tournament looks solid. Stanford is ranked No. 1 in the latest projections for Sunday’s game, followed by UConn, Texas A&M and South Carolina.
South Carolina’s victory in the SEC tournament and Stanford’s dominance in the Pac-12 tournament destroyed any major chance of movement at the top. If Georgia had beaten the Gamecocks on Sunday and Louisville had played against a home team in the ACC championship game, there would have been a lot to learn about the No. 1 seed.
The discussion is now over, with the possible exception that the final #1 should be South Carolina or North Carolina State. Whether on the SEC or ACC side, winning their respective conference tournaments puts the Gamecocks and Wolfpack in fourth and fifth place. And any path that Maryland or Baylor could have taken to the top via the Big Ten or Big 12 conference tournaments is now blocked.
The focus is on the bubble or teams vying for the top seeds.
Only four of the twelve possible teams in the current Last Four Entries, First Four Exits and Next Four Exits have games left to play: UCF (currently one of the final four), BYU, Houston (first four dropouts) and Oklahoma (next four dropouts). Clearly, these are the teams to keep an eye on this week.
However, a number of other teams have a chance to win or lose depending on what happens in tournaments in other conferences around the country. Here’s a look at what happened this past week before the rankings are announced on Monday the 15th. Mars (ESPN/ESPN App, 7 p.m. ET), is featured.
Notre Dame: The chances of the Irish getting on the field are slim, but there is a scenario where it could still happen. If UCF and BYU are both eliminated early in the AAC and WCC tournaments, respectively, and the favorites win those two competitions – as well as the Atlantic Sun, Missouri Valley and Summit – Notre Dame could return as the final team. But the streak of 24 consecutive NCAA tournaments is certainly in jeopardy.
DePaul, Mississippi and Wake Forest: The Blue Demons and Bulldogs have suffered the biggest defeats of any NCAA Tournament eligible team in the last three weeks. A DePaul loss against Butler and Creighton would have been enough to completely ruin his chances in any other season. With neither the Ivy League nor Ohio State participating in the postseason due to their self-imposed lockout, there are only two major offers available – and the Blue Demons are holding out. Mississippi State’s series at the end of the season and the SEC tournament wasn’t as bad as DePaul’s, which lost four of its last five games, but it didn’t make much of a difference. Wake Forest has six clear wins in the top 50, but is just 12-12 and has also lost four of its five games.
All three teams need to get better at the national level. They especially need Florida Gulf Coast, the highest seeded in the A-Sun, to win the tournament title as well. If the Eagles don’t win this week, the NCAA tournament will be in full swing. That would have given the A-Sun a second team on the field and one less spot on the bubble team. The same goes for Gonzaga in the WCC, Missouri State in the MVC and South Florida in the AAC.
Summit League: The first potential blow to the bubble teams came Saturday, when an injury-plagued South Dakota League champion was defeated in the quarterfinals. South Dakota is the new favorite to win the tournament at the highest level. The Coyotes are already nominated for the 64-team tournament, and if they win the Summit Tournament, no team will be hurt. If one of the remaining teams wins, another spot can be added and the bubble gets smaller again.
The Jackrabbits lost Player of the Year Mya Selland and fourth-leading scorer Tori Nelson to injuries in three regular-season games, but have yet to earn an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. It is important to remember that all the teamwork is used by the committee to select the field of 64 teams. Injuries and players can no longer make impact landings on the field, but selections can. South Dakota State was once considered a number 6, but is now traded as a number 9.
Michigan State: The Spartans are not officially a bubble team, but they are the first team above the Final Four and a quick exit from the Big Ten tournament would hurt their NCAA tournament hopes. All of the scenarios described above would expose Michigan to the same risk. To make a big bet, the Spartans, who have a decent NET 41 but aren’t posting strong wins, must beat Indiana in the quarterfinals.
frequently asked questions
Who is the number 1?
Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois and Michigan received the No. 1 seed for March Madness, while the Bulldogs received the No. 1 seed overall.
Have you ever won the NCAA tournament with a singles berth?
How many times has the first place winner March Madness won? ….
Who is #1 in NCAA basketball?
The 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket has been announced, and we now know the full list of contenders. The Gonzaga Bulldogs enter the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed, followed by the Baylor Bears and the Illinois Fighting Illini.