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Women’s Bubble Watch: Could we see a two-bid Ivy League?

Princeton is in really good shape, but what may someone like Columbia need to do to get into the field as well?

NCAA Womens Basketball: Princeton at Connecticut
Kaitlyn Chen ranks second on Princeton in scoring at 14.9 points per game.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The calendar is about to flip over to February, which means the women’s NCAA Tournament picture is starting to crystalize. Just a bit.

At this point, we’re comfortable only putting one school from a mid-major conference in the field (Gonzaga), but a couple others are knocking on door to the “lock” territory as well

But as has been the case all month, the most intrigue lies in the Atlantic 10, where a handful of teams have a reasonable shot at the league auto-bid or an at-large selection. They are all favored to hold serve this week but the schedule picks up next week, highlighted by a matchup between George Mason and Saint Joseph’s.

In the meantime, here’s where we stand.

Virtual Locks

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Record: 20-2 | NET: 13 | SOS: 25

Charlie Creme Projection: 4 seed (AQ)

Last Week: W at Santa Clara 82-45 W at San Francisco 73-54 | This Week: Feb. 1 at San Diego, Feb. 3 vs. Pacific

Best Wins: vs. Alabama (NET 37) vs. Stanford (NET 4), at California (NET 58) | Bad Losses: NONE

At this point, the Bulldogs are playing for seeding, though a lot of that is no longer in their control. With no more quality teams left on the regular season slate, it’s time to hope that their wins over Alabama, Stanford, and Cal continue to age well.

In Good Shape

UNLV Lady Rebels

Record: 17-2 | NET: 28 | SOS: 158

Charlie Creme Projection: 8 seed

Last Week: W at Boise State 84-63, W vs. Nevada 92-47 | This Week: Jan. 31 vs. Wyoming, Feb. 3 at New Mexico

Good Wins: vs. Arizona (NET 44), at Oklahoma (NET 53), at Colorado State (NET 82) | Bad Loss: vs. New Mexico (NET 189)

There aren’t many teams dancing around the tournament bubble who could say they’re 9-1 on the road. That’s what the Rebels are, and that includes a victory at Oklahoma. If UNLV keeps winning, there’s no reason to think it will have to sweat on Selection Sunday.

Princeton Tigers

Record: 15-3 | NET: 30 | SOS: 48

Charlie Creme Projection: 10 seed (AQ)

Last Week: W vs. Cornell 85-47 | This Week: Feb. 2 vs. Yale, Feb. 3 vs. Brown

Best Wins: at Middle Tennessee (NET 52), vs. Oklahoma (NET 53), at Villanova (NET 49) | Bad Losses: NONE

Princeton is 3-2 in Quad 1, 3-1 in Quad 2, and has no losses outside of the first two quadrants. Throw in eight road wins and utter dominance against its overmatched Ivy competition and the Tigers are in good shape. If they can win out in the regular season and do us all a favor and lose in the Ivy League finals, we could be looking at a #2bidIvy.

Work Left To Do

Green Bay Phoenix

Record: 16-4 | NET: 34 | SOS: 145

Charlie Creme Projection: 10 seed (AQ)

Last Week: W at IUPUI 87-59, W vs. Wright State 77-59 | This Week: Feb. 3 at Cleveland State

Best Wins: at Creighton (NET 25), vs. Washington State (NET 21) | Bad Loss: at Oakland (NET 240)

The Phoenix have lost just once in the last six weeks, but that L is a doozy (see Oakland, above). Unfortunately for them, the Horizon isn’t quite as good as it’s been in the past, so another Q3 or Q4 loss could mean big trouble for Green Bay.

Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders

Record: 16-4 | NET: 48 | SOS: 187

Charlie Creme Projection: 11 seed (AQ)

Last Week: W at Jacksonville State 67-45, W at FIU 92-62 | This Week: Feb. 3 vs. Western Kentucky

Best Win: vs. Tennessee (NET 57) | Bad Losses: NONE

Middle Tennessee did its best to schedule aggressively, and to an extent, was rewarded. But not as much as Rick Insell might have hoped. Memphis, Houston, DePaul and Tennessee are all brand names, but the Lady Vols are the only team out of the four in the top 60 of the NET and even that is misleading – Tennessee has plenty of work to do before making its way comfortably into the field.

Saint Joseph’s Hawks

Record: 19-2 | NET: 53| SOS: 162

Charlie Creme Projection: First Four Out

Last Week: W at St. Bonaventure 65-40, W vs. Davidson 68-42 | This Week: Jan. 31 at Loyola University Chicago, Feb. 3 vs. UMass

Good Wins: vs. Villanova (NET 49), at Rhode Island (NET 80), vs. Davidson (NET 74) | Bad Losses: NONE

Hey, someone’s gotta win the autobid out of the A-10. But if it’s not the Hawks, they’re still set up nicely. With three regular season games left against top 100 NET teams, they can play their way into the bracket projections rather easily…they just can’t slip up against the bottom of the league.

George Mason Patriots

Record: 15-3 | NET: 49 | SOS: 157

Charlie Creme Projection: Next Four Out

Last Week: W at George Washington 57-41, W vs. VCU 60-47 | This Week: Jan. 31 vs. Fordham, Feb. 3 at Loyola University Chicago

Good Wins: vs. Davidson (NET 73), vs. VCU (NET 76) | Worst Loss: at East Carolina (NET 103)

Circle Feb. 8 on your calendar. That’s when the Patriots host Saint Joe’s in a game that can move the Patriots into the projected field. It’s also important because three of their next four games after that are on the road, including one at Davidson.

Richmond Spiders

Record: 18-4 | NET: 58 | SOS: 78

Charlie Creme Projection: 12 seed (AQ)

Last Week: L at Duquesne 72-59, W at Saint Louis 72-61 | This Week: Feb. 3 vs. Fordham

Best Wins: at Drake (NET 64), at Saint Joseph’s (NET 60), at Davidson (NET 73) | Bad Losses: NONE

If you’re on the bubble, it’s good to have three Quad 1 wins on your resume before Feb. 1. Their roadie at Rhody next week is a chance to add another one to the pile with a Valentine’s Day tilt at VCU looming. Isn’t the A-10 fun?

Win Your Auto-bid

Drake Bulldogs

The Bulldogs are one of those teams that would be fun as hell to watch in the NCAA Tournament; they’re capable of scoring in bunches, even against elite competition. Their three Quad 2 wins show they’re no joke either – plus they pushed Minnesota to double OT on the road and gave Creighton a push in Omaha.

South Dakota State Jackrabbits

The Jackrabbits haven’t lost since Dec. 21…but they haven’t played anyone in that time either. Nor will they the rest of the regular season. SDSU would be in a much better position if it has beaten one of the four power conference teams it played in the non-con or Gonzaga.

Columbia Lions

Pretty much the only way we’re going to get the coveted #2BidIvy, but also far from out of the question. It probably would have taken two Lions wins over Princeton to get them into the at-large conversation and with their loss to the Tigers last week, the only way that happens is if Columbia wins the Ivy title anyway.

Belmont Bruins

A home win over Middle Tennessee is a nice line on the resume, but it can’t be your only one. The Bruins desperately need to beat Drake on Feb. 17 before they could even begin to think of an at-large case.