Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Guru Outlook: The Conference Postseason Wars Are Under Way

(Guru's note: This completes the package for Thursday and because of its national interest, becomes the front page post in melgreenberg.com. Therefore, click Mel's blog to view directly under in blogspot The Atlantic 10 postseason awards with Temple's Tonya Cardoza named coach of the year, The Drexel-Old Dominion game and regular season CAA wrapup, and as companions to this post -- A daily conference schedule and the complete conference tracker refined and more focused by the Guru with seed nos, AP nos. and records and results. -- Mel.)

By Mel Greenberg

OK, since many of you have been waiting, the Guru might as well get this done before the curtain goes up in a few hours with a slew of power conferences determining NCAA qualifiers over the next several days through and beyond the weekend.

Then the next group will take over and, finally, the NCAA committee sitting at organization headquarters in Indianapolis will crunch the numbers, watch some games on TV, and somehow figure out how to produce a 64-team bracket skewered by home-court situations in the opening rounds and the overflow of representatives from spots as the Big East to create the road back to Indy and the Women’s Final Four.

So, looking at conference pairings, standings, and other data gleaned off of Jerry Palm’s CollegeRPI.com site, here’s the first in a series of commentaries.

The Guru is planning to get to the A-10 tourney but may have to delay the trip to handle some local matters in which case he can work by remote.

Based on what has been set up, here’s a conference-by-conference look, but not yet all of them, at the moment.

America East: Boston U. was the preseason favorite and then UMBC raced through to gain a first-ever No. 1 seed for the early rounds, which will be played at the University of Hartford. If the host Hawks win, it will be as an underdog. The championship game next week moves to the site of the highest surviving seed.
But in any event, this is a one-bid league no matter what happens.

Atlantic Coast: Well, everyone is saying the same thing determined by a clear break in the standings. Barring a darkhorse run, six will go to the NCAA, of which one will be the champion of the ACC.

Off the preseason North Carolina playing Thursday as a sixth-seed is a surprise but not in terms of anyone following the fade in the last two weeks. The Tar Heels need to advance deep in this one in the usual Greensboro locale in North Carolina to improve their potential NCAA placement.

The upset of Texas A&M by Kansas State could offer an opportunity for someone to dislodge the Aggies from row two on the bracket. Duke, the preseason favorite, has the best shot for a No. 1 depending what happens elsewhere, but more likely winning the ACC could mean a No. 2 slot.

Miami could make it to row two depending what happens elsewhere. Georgia Tech, which plays Virginia Tech Thursday, is
looking to improve its NCAA placement with a deep run.

Boston College has gone from potentially a lock, to straddling the bubble line to deeper on the bubble to, well, the Eagles need a run or it will be a dash to the WNIT. Maryland and Florida State are also looking to improve themselves.
Can it happen successfully for BC? It did to North Carolina State last year.

Atlantic Sun: Action has already begun in Macon, Ga.,but it’s a one-bid league. ETSU is the No. 1 seed.

Atlantic Ten: Favored Xavier and Temple are locks. At one time it looked like two others could go but a deduction may occur here to benefit someone else. So, as Xavier coach Kevin McGuff said after the win over Temple – a lot of hungry teams such as Duquesne, Charlotte, Dayton, and Richmond could make this event worth watching. St. Joseph’s has been a Cinderella before up to a point. And the Hawks aren’t hungry – they’re starving with no bid since 2000.

Big 12: The conference is still in flux through next week’s tourney. Baylor is heading to a No. 1 seed, but that’s not news. What is worthy of attention is the change from probably four NCAAs to openings for more. Baylor and Texas A&M are playing for high seeds. Oklahoma and Iowa State seem like locks but Texas Tech, Texas, and after the Wednesday upset, Kansas State are all in play so they need to work on their resumes.

Big East: This is where UConn hides the fact that it is the conference landlord as it goes for another title as well as defense of its two-time national title.

The big story is can this conference really get 10 teams in the field. Nine? Eight seems likely. Syracuse needs to make a run, St. John’s needs to go a round or two as West Virginia might also. Notre Dame and DePaul are playing for either row one or row two positions. Rutgers could be a darkhorse in the conference action depending on how things look for the quarterfinals but the Scarlet Knights are NCAA bound.

Big Ten: Yes, the Guru skipped two one-bid leagues – Big Sky and Big South – because they don’t play till next week. Meanwhile, a month before the Final Four, Conseco Fieldhouse will see interesting action out of the Big Ten. Ohio State has transformed to an underdog, Penn State to an opportunist. Michigan State is safe, Wisconsin has some proving to do. Michigan and Iowa look ok. Purdue needs a run.

CAA: We’ll revisit next week but the middle teams, as the Guru has stated, could become title busters.

C-USA: Houston has made a great run but the problem is anything but an automatic bid might mean a loss to low RPI team.

Ivy: No tournament but tournament mode is what Princeton will be about.

Metro Atlantic:
A one-bid league in the action in Bridgeport, Conn., but Marist needs to win this – ranking or no ranking.

Mountain West – Cone back next week.

Ohio Valley: No reprieve for Tennessee Tech with a loss so win baby.

PAC-10: That was a bad loss Sothern Cal took last week so a run is needed in the tourney to ensure avoiding a second straight omission. Stanford trying to play for the best possible NCAA seed.

Patriot League: Wide open for one and only one.

Southeastern: Not your grandmother’s SEC – not even LSU coach Van Chancellor’s SEC in his pre-WNBA life at Mississippi. Ranked teams used to play in round one because there were so many of them. Someone could become Cinderella – South Carolina? Tennessee is looking to streak all the way to the Final Four. Kentucky is a lock and after that Georgia and Vandy looking to avoid looking from the outside.

Southern: Appalachian State is the top seed in a one-bid league.

Summitt: Oral Roberts top seed in a one-bid league but that may not be the name listed as the rep when the final buzzer goes off. Just saying.

Sun Belt: A tragedy has befallen top-seed Middle Tennessee in the past 24 hours and the Guru’s condolences on the tragic loss of a player (Tina Stewart) who was stabbed to death by a roommate during an argument. Life supersedes the games but if there is an impact the answer will be known soon since the tourney is this weekend.

West Coast: Well, what happens if Gonzaga, which is ranked, doesn’t win. The Zags are a first-round host as well as a regional host but as in the case of Temple, that means being shipped to make a deep run elsewhere.

-- Mel

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