South Carolina, Indiana, Stanford and UConn would be the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament if it began now.
The NCAA women’s basketball selection committee did its first reveal of the teams in line for the top 16 seeds, although none of Thursday night’s games were factored in, including No. 2 Indiana’s win over No. 5 Iowa and Syracuse’s victory over No. 14 North Carolina.
“It was incredibly hard,” NCAA selection committee chair Lisa Peterson said in a phone interview. “We joked that the only thing that was easy was putting South Carolina at No. 1. It’s a true testament to the competitive parity of women’s basketball right now.”
Peterson has been on the committee for three years and said this season so far has been the most difficult in placing teams.
“This was really challenging,” she said. “The committee talked longer than other top 16s I’ve been a part of.”
The top 16 seeds will host first- and second-round games with the regional rounds being played at two neutral sites for the first time instead of the traditional four. Seattle will host half of the Sweet 16 and Greenville, South Carolina, will host the other eight teams.
South Carolina and Indiana were projected as the top seeds in the Greenville Regional with Stanford and UConn in Seattle. The unbeaten Gamecocks were the overall No. 1 seed.
Joining the Gamecocks in their bracket were No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Maryland and No. 4 Ohio State. The Hoosiers would have No. 2 Utah, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Villanova.
The other top teams in Stanford’s region were No. 2 Iowa, No. 3 Texas and No. 4 North Carolina. UConn would be joined by LSU, Michigan and Virginia Tech.
LSU was fifth in the overall rankings despite being the only other undefeated team alongside South Carolina. Peterson said the Tigers’ nonconference strength of schedule was ranked 321st in the nation, which is what held them from being higher. LSU faces South Carolina on Sunday.
Teams just outside the top 16 included Florida State, Iowa State, Colorado, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
The Final Four will be played in Dallas on March 31 and the NCAA championship game is two days later. Dallas is also hosting the Division II and III championship games on April 1.
The NCAA has been doing in-season reveals since 2015 to give teams an early idea of where they could be come selection night. The NCAA will have one more reveal on Feb. 23 before the real seedings are announced on March 12.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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