24 February 2011

Bricketology™ 2011: Abu Scooter's first women's cut

Yesterday was the guys' turn; today, I'm predicting the NCAA women's basketball bracket.  The process for the women is completely different from what's used to set up the men's bracket.   Here are the differences:
  1. The women's bracket has only 64 teams.  No one gets a bye, and there are no play-in games.
  2. Regions are named after their locations instead of compass directions: this year, Dallas, Dayton, Spokane and Philadelphia.
  3. The women's selection committee tends to just pick the best 64 teams, then assign their places in order of rank.  This year, for example, the top five teams are (and will probably remain) UConn, Stanford, Duke, Baylor and Tennessee.  Four of those teams will get the #1 seeds and be placed in the bracket; the one that's left will be placed next, as a #2 seed.  Texas A&M and Xavier, the probable sixth and seventh selections, will be placed after that.  And so it goes, down the the 64th best team.  On the men's side, it's chaos, once the first 16 or so teams are picked.
  4. Maximizing attendance remains a priority on the women's side, so if a qualifier can open at home, it does, regardless of seed.  For the same reason, no team will travel across the continent for the regional-level playoffs, if it can be avoided.  Contrast that with the process for the men's bracket, where home-court advantages are expressly prohibited.
 Some constraints apply on both sides of the gender line.
  1. There are 31 automatic bids, one for each conference. The Ivy League picks its representative based on regular-season play; everyone else uses a post-season tournament.
  2. When four or fewer teams are selected from any league, they are placed in different regions.  For 5-8 teams, it's one or two to a region.
  3. Conference rivals can meet before the regional final only if more than eight teams advance.  Non-conference matchups that have occurred during the regular season are also to be avoided.
 The only other thing to add is that, as with the men's bracket, I rely more heavily on RPI rankings than the selection committees will. I'm also pretty hostile to teams with losing conference records (buh-bye, Texas).  Here are the highlights of my women's bracket. If you're wondering about your favorite team, and I haven't mentioned it, just ask about it in the comments.
  • Top seeds: UConn (Philadelphia), Stanford (Spokane), Tennessee (Dayton), Baylor (Dallas).
  • Last four in: LSU, Purdue, Creighton, Arkansas-Little Rock.
  • First four out: Texas, South Carolina, Missouri State, Wisconsin.
  • Opening on their home floors: all the top seeds, plus (2) Duke, (3) Xavier, (3) Maryland, (7) Ohio State, (7) Penn State and (13) Gonzaga.
  • Opening close enough to home: (11) Louisiana Tech in Shreveport, (13) BYU in Salt Lake City.
  • First-round sites not getting local teams: Albuquerque, Auburn, Charlottesville and Wichita. New Mexicans love their hoops, especially in Albuquerque; and they'll probably have plenty of (2) Texas A&M Aggie fans helping fill The Pit. But I'm worried about the other three sites.
  • High seeds potentially facing outright road games: (2) UCLA at Ohio State; (2) Notre Dame at Penn State; (4) Oklahoma at Gonzaga. 

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