Wednesday, 11 April 2018 17:00

Women's Conference Races - Bubble Watch

Written by
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Last week I took a look at the men's conference races so now it's time for the women. There will be 30 women's conference tournaments this year with each winner earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The only conference that does not have a tournament is the Ivy League which awards its automatic berth to the regular season champion. The only school that won't be able to defend its conference title will be Wichita State which moved from Missouri Valley to the American after winning nine straight MVC titles. There will be 33 at-large bids into the NCAA Tournament with the at-large ranking cutoff expected to be 41 or 42. 

Below is a look at the conference races with the contenders listed for all of my projected 1-bid leagues. For the Power 5, AAC, and CUSA I'll list who I think is probably in along with teams that will be on the bubble. Teams in the bigger conferences have enough matches left against ranked teams to make a move while teams in the one-bid leagues will not. 

My women's conference tournament central page will be located under the events tab plus and I'll add draws once they become available.  
Potential multiple-bid leagues (Tournament Location/Host) - (7)
American Athletic Conference (Dallas/SMU) - UCF and Tulsa are locks to get in with a top 30 ranking while Wichita State is sitting pretty good at No. 34. The Shockers have a chance to lock up a bid this weekend if they can defeat either Kansas State or UCF at home. South Florida is a good 15 spots below the cut line however they have a chance to move up some if they can win on the road this Friday at No. 40 Florida International. In addition to defeating FIU the Bulls would also need to make a serious run in the conference tournament with wins over at least two of the higher ranked teams. 
  • Locks - UCF, Tulsa
  • Bubble - Wichita State
  • Long Shot - South Florida

Projected bids - 3 (WSU)


Atlantic Coast Conference (Cary, NC) - The ACC put nine teams in last year and I think they'll match that this year with eight already locks.  NC State is currently just one game above .500 at 12-11 however the Pack finish the regular season with six matches at home with North Carolina Central, Winthrop, and Pitt among those six. If NCST can win those three plus win one of the other three against Wake Forest, Virginia, and Syracuse they should be good to go. 
Clemson is also just one game above .500 at 11-10 but the Tigers have a much tougher schedule down the stretch. This coming weekend Clemson welcomes in Louisville and North Carolina then they hit the road the following weekend to play Virginia and Georgia Tech. Anything worse than a 2-2 record will be match over. 
Virginia Tech (12-7) is about 10 spots below the anticipated cut line and with remaining matches against Florida State (road), Miami (road), Georgia Tech, and Duke (road) it's going to take a significant upset over one of those teams to make up any ground. 
Louisville (13-8) is closer to 20 spots below the anticipated cut line so the Cards would probably need to go 3-1 in the final four against Clemson (road), Wake Forest (road), Miami, and Florida State.
  • Locks: North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida State, Virginia, Wake Forest, Syracuse
  • Bubble: NC State, Clemson
  • Long Shot: Virginia Tech, Louisville

Projected bids - 9 (NCST)


Big Ten Conference (Minneapolis) - The Big Ten only had three teams in the tournament last year and it looks like they'll get four in this year with an outside shot at five. Northwestern and Illinois are both in the running to host a regional while Michigan moved off the bubble and locked up its bid last weekend after blanking Illinois. 
Ohio State (10-6) can lock up its bid this weekend if it can pick up road wins over No. 50 Purdue and No. 81 Indiana. If the Buckeyes stumble in one of those two they might need to pull off an upset over Illinois or Northwestern the following weekend to be able to breath easy going into the Big Ten Tournament. 
Nebraska (15-6) tumbled eight spots to No. 46, after losing on the road at Maryland last Sunday, and now the Huskers are looking at a three-match stretch that will bring No. 75 Iowa, No. 138 Wisconsin, and No. 71 Minnesota into Lincoln. I think Nebraska needs to win all three, plus avoid an early exit in the conference tournament, to have a chance at ending up on the right side of the bubble.   
Purdue (11-8) moved up to No. 50, after winning on the road at No. 81 Indiana, so they are currently sitting around eight spots below where they need to be. The Boilers host No. 119 Penn State and No. 35 Ohio State this weekend and then hit the road the following weekend to face No. 225 Rutgers and No. 62 Maryland. Purdue probably needs to win all four matches and avoid an early exit at the conference tournament to have a shot.   
Michigan State (13-7) had a chance to make a move over the last two weeks but they came up short against Ohio State, Northwestern, and Illinois. The Spartans close out the regular season with home matches against No. 225 Rutgers, No. 62 Maryland, and No. 24 Michigan but a sweep of those three would only get them up into the high 40s so they'd also have to pick up a significant win the conference tournament.  
  • Locks: Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan
  • Bubble: Ohio State, Nebraska 
  • Long Shot: Purdue, Michigan State

Projected bids - 4 (Ohio State)


Big 12 Conference (Austin) - The Big XII put six teams in last year and they've got five locks with a couple on the border. I have Baylor down as a lock, despite only being one game above .500, because the Bears still have remaining home matches against No. 128 UT Arlington, No. 150 West Virginia, No. 159 Louisiana Tech, and No. 199 Iowa State. 
Kansas State (14-5) is currently sitting at No. 36 but they have four big matches left starting with an in-state road trip on Friday to No. 34 Wichita State. The Wildcats three other matches against No. 17 Kansas, No. 11 Oklahoma State, and No. 51 Oklahoma are all at home. If K-State can go 2-2 in those matches they'll move off the bubble and into the field; they probably can get away with going 1-3 and still make it however that'd put a little more pressure on them in the conference tournament. 
Oklahoma (12-9) picked up a couple of stat-padding wins last week against No. 196 Oral Roberts but the Sooners dropped three spots in the rankings to No. 51. OU welcomes in No. 13 Texas Tech and No. 55 TCU this weekend and then the following week they make the Kansas trip to face the No. 17 Jayhawks and No. 36 Wildcats. The matches against TCU and K-State are must wins and if OU dropped the other two they'd need to pick up another top 20-25 win in the conference tournament to have a chance. 
TCU (9-11) needs to win three of its last four against Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, and West Virginia (all on road) to get to .500 and it also needs to pick up a significant ranked win to enhance it's ranking which sits in the mid-50s. The Horned Frogs will probably know their fate after this Friday's match against No. 11 Oklahoma State because that's the only higher ranked team they'll face until possibly the conference tournament. 
  • Locks: Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Baylor
  • Bubble: Kansas State, Oklahoma
  • Long Shot: TCU

Projected bids - 6 (K-State)


Conference USA (Norfolk/ODU) - CUSA put two in the field last year and it's going to be awfully close to having two again this year.  FIU, Rice, and Old Dominion are all hovering right at the cut line and based off each team's remaining matches it's possible that a team other than the conference champion could get in.
FIU hosts No. 56 South Florida and No. 72 Florida Atlantic this weekend, Rice hosts No. 159 Louisiana Tech , and ODU welcomes in No. 42 William & Mary on Friday. Rice isn't going to get much help from beating LA Tech so the Owls will probably need to win the conference tournament again to get in.
If FIU beats both USF and FAU, the Panthers would most likely make it as long as they at least made it to the conference final BUT it'd be really close.
ODU, which is hosting the conference tournament, needs to beat W&M to stay in contention but the Monarchs probably need to win the tournament to get in. ODU is 11-2 on the season at home with the two losses (both 4-3) coming against Tennessee and Virginia Tech. 
  • Locks: None
  • Bubble: Florida International, Rice, Old Dominion

Projected bids - 2 (ODU/FIU)


Pac-12 Conference (Ojai, Ca) - The Pac-12 sent seven schools to the NCAAs last year, two of which hosted regionals, but right now it looks like six might be the number with UCLA the only one in the running to host. Arizona State (13-5) is as close to being a lock without actually being a lock but any doubt can be removed this weekend with a road win over either UCLA or USC. Even if ASU lost both they should still get in as long as they beat Arizona in two weeks. 
Washington State (20-3) is currently sitting four spots above the cut line with three challenging matches remaining. The Cougars have both Stanford and Cal coming to Pullman this weekend and then they finish the regular season on the other side of the state at Washington. Wazzu has never beaten Stanford (0-23) and they've only knocked off Cal once (1-20) but both of those teams are down this year compared to year's past. If Washington State can win one of its final three, and avoid a loss to a team ranked below it in the conference tournament, the Cougars should make it for the first time since 2012. 
USC (11-7) would be the last team to make it if the field was selected today but the Trojans still have some work to do to get off the bubble. The Trojans welcome in both Arizona schools this weekend and a sweep would move them off the bubble and into the field. USC should beat Arizona, who is 0-7 in the Pac-12, while the match against ASU is a toss-up. If USC lost to Arizona State it'd need to either beat UCLA the following week or beat a top 30 team in the conference tournament. 
Cal (10-6) finishes the regular season by hitting the road with matches at No. 52 Washington, No. 37 Washington State, and No. 22 Stanford. If Cal can win two of three it's in; if it can't then it would take an upset in the conference tournament to have a chance. 

Washington (13-9) probably needs to win it's final three regular season matches against Stanford, Cal, and Washington State to have a chance at moving up the 10 or so spots. Fortuntately for UW all three matches are at home but a sweep of all three is going to be a tall order. 
  • Locks: UCLA, Stanford, Oregon
  • Bubble: Arizona State, Washington State, USC, Cal, Washington

Projected bids - 6 (Arizona State, Washington State, USC)


Southeastern Conference (Knoxville/Tennessee) - The SEC put 12 teams in last year but I think 11 is probably going to be the max this year and that's if LSU can get in. The Tigers (13-8) close out their regular season schedule this weekend with road matches at No. 64 Alabama and No. 20 Auburn. If they get a split, with the win coming over Alabama, they'll probably need another win in the conference tournament to breath easier. If they beat Auburn on Sunday they're in with ease but if they lose both they'll need to pick up a quality win in the conference tournament. 
Arkansas (6-14) would be on the bubble with a ranking of No. 49 however their record is so far below .500 that they'll need to win the conference tournament to get in. 
  • Locks: Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas A&M
  • Bubble: LSU

Projected bids - 10

Projected 1-bid leagues (Tournament Location/Host) - (24)
Atlantic Sun Conference (Jacksonville, FL)
  • Contenders - North Florida (host), Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast, Kennesaw State
Atlantic 10 Conference (Lake Nona, FL)
  • Contenders - VCU, Davidson, UMass
Big East Conference (Cayce, SC)
  • Contenders: St. John's, Xavier, Marquette, DePaul, Seton Hall, Creighton
Big Sky Conference (Phoenix)
  • Contenders: Northern Arizona, Idaho
Big South Conference (Rock Hill, SC)
  • Contenders: Winthrop (host), Liberty, Campbell,
Big West Conference (Indian Wells)
  • Contenders: UC Santa Barbara, Hawaii, UC Davis, Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton 
Colonial Athletic Association (Elon, NC)
  • Contenders: William & Mary, James Madison, Delaware, Drexel, Elon (host)
Horizon League (West Lafayette, IN)
  • Contenders: Wright State, Youngstown State, Illinois-Chicago, Cleveland State
Ivy League (No Tournament)
  • Contenders: Princeton, Columbia, Harvard, Brown, Dartmouth
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (West Windsor, NJ)
  • Contenders: Quinnipiac, Siena, Fairfield 
Mid-American Conference (Muncie, IN/Ball State)
  • Contenders: Buffalo, Miami, Bowling Green State, Toledo, Akron
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (Norfolk/Norfolk State)
  • Contenders: Bethune-Cookman, Morgan State, South Carolina State
Missouri Valley (Springfield, MO/Missouri State)
  • Contenders: Drake, Illinois State, Missouri State
Mountain West Conference (Boise, ID)
  • Contenders: UNLV, San Diego State, Fresno State, Boise State (host), New Mexico, Wyoming
Northeast Conference (West Windsor, NJ)
  • Contenders: LIU Brooklyn
Ohio Valley Conference (Nashville/Belmont/Tennessee State)
  • Contenders: Murray State, Eastern Kentucky, Austin Peay, Jacksonville State
Patriot League (West Point, NY/Army)
  • Contenders: Army (host), Navy, Bucknell, Lehigh
Southern Conference (Chattanooga, TN)
  • Contenders: Furman, East Tennessee State, Samford, Chattanooga (host)
Southland Conference (Beaumont, TX/Lamar)
  • Contenders: McNeese State, Northwestern State, Sam Houston State, Abilene Christian, Texas A&M Corpus, Central Arkansas
Southwestern Athletic Conference (New Orleans)
  • Contenders: Alabama State, Prairie View A&M, Southern
The Summit League (Denver)
  • Contenders: Denver (host)
Sun Belt Conference (Peachtree City, GA/Georgia State) 
  • Contenders: Georgia State (host), South Alabama, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Louisiana-Monroe
West Coast Conference (Claremont, CA)
  • Contenders: Pepperdine (IN off ranking), Loyola Marymount, Gonzaga
Western Athletic Conference (Phoenix/Grand Canyon)
  • Contenders: UTRGV, UMKC, Grand Canyon (host)


If viewing on mobile turn phone sideways to properly see the chart


W-Conference  Dates Location Host School 2017 Champion
SWAC 4/13 - 4/15 New Orleans   Alabama State
AAC 4/18 - 4/21 Dallas SMU South Florida
Big South 4/18 - 4/21 Rock Hill, SC Winthrop Winthrop
SEC 4/18 - 4/22 Knoxville Tennessee Vanderbilt
Colonial 4/19 - 4/22 Elon, NC Elon William & Mary
Conference USA 4/19 - 4/22 Norfolk Old Dominion Rice
Patriot  4/19 - 4/22 West Point, NY Army Boston U
Sun Belt  4/19 - 4/22 Peachtree City, GA Georgia State Louisiana Monroe
Atlantic Sun 4/20 - 4/22 Jacksonville North Florida North Florida
Northeast  4/20 - 4/22 West Windsor, NJ   LIU Brooklyn
Ohio Valley  4/20 - 4/22 Nashville, TN Belmont/Tenn State SIU Edwardsville
Southern  4/20 - 4/22 Chattanooga, TN Chattanooga Furman
ACC 4/25 - 4/29 Cary, NC   North Carolina
Pac-12  4/25 - 4/29 Ojai, CA   Stanford
Big Sky 4/26 - 4/28 Phoenix   Idaho
MEAC 4/26 - 4/28 Norfolk Norfolk State South Carolina State
WCC 4/26 - 4/28 Claremont, CA   Pepperdine 
Atlantic 10 4/26 - 4/29 Lake Nona, FL   UMass
Big 12 4/26 - 4/29 Norman Oklahoma Texas Tech
Big East 4/26 - 4/29 Cayce, SC   DePaul
Big Ten 4/26 - 4/29 Minneapolis Minnesota Ohio State
Big West 4/26 - 4/29 Indian Wells   UC Santa Barbara
Mountain West  4/26 - 4/29 Boise Boise State San Jose State
Summit  4/27 - 4/28 Denver Denver Denver
Horizon 4/27 - 4/29 West Lafayette, IN   Youngstown State
Mid-American  4/27 - 4/29 Muncie, IN Ball State Buffalo
Missouri Valley  4/27 - 4/29 Springfield, MO Missouri State Wichita State
Southland  4/27 - 4/29 Beaumont, TX Lamar Texas A&M Corpus
WAC 4/27 - 4/29 Phoenix Grand Canyon UMKC
MAAC 4/28 - 4/29 West Windsor, NJ   Quinnipiac
Read 739 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 April 2018 17:21

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.