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.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Guru Notes: Marquette Big East Upset May Help Villanova WNIT Bid

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

While Temple is likely to be picked as an at-large team to the NCAA tournament, ending a drought since 2011, and Penn is favored to take the Ivy title this weekend, not so much going on for the other teams in the area.

However, there is a motherlode of folks under examination for the WNIT and while Marquette swept Villanova during the season, the Golden Eagles may have done the Wildcats a favor by upsetting top-seeded DePaul Tuesday night to win the Big East.

If the committee was projecting DePaul to win and second-seeded Creighton to get to the title game and didn’t have a ton of interest in Marquette as a third team, then Villanova, which was viewed as a bubble compared to stronger years, was cooked in terms of making the WNIT’s 64-team field.

But with the Golden Eagles crashing that projection, forcing what is known as the wrong winner, an extra team comes out of the Big East.

To point the difference, West Virginia is not viewed as a wrong winner beating Baylor in the Big-12 for the title because the Mountaineers were likely to go anyway.

If anything, maybe in NCAA discussions, George Washington might be a wrong-winner victim because when wrong winners make the field, the bubble people, inside the line or out, get in trouble because one gets replaced.

But, helpful to Villanova is that the Wildcats were the fourth seed. If the three above them – DePaul, that now goes as an at-large, Creighton and, Marquette, which now has the automatic, then Villanova is the highest non-NCAA left standing in the Big East and thus becomes the automatic qualifier to the WNIT.

The AQs are based on regular season standings so even if 5 seed Saint John’s was in a standings tie with Nova and won the quarterfinal game, Nova 2-0 in the season gives the Wildcats the edge, though the Red Storm are probably strongly in the mix anyway.

Rider, a national Cinderella story, has locked up a WNIT berth as the No. 2 team in the MAAC, which would be the Broncs’ first postseason ever.

Saint Joseph’s fantastic surge through January and February to land the No.; 3 seed in the Atlantic 10 could make them the AQ for the WNIT if George Washington hangs in for the NCAA as an at-large.

But the Hawks, with three wins over La Salle, is enough, along with past performance, to land a WNIT anyway while La Salle’s turnaround will keep the Explorers on the bubble.

If Penn doesn’t win the Ivies, the Quakers will be taken to the WNIT, though now, assuming they will, Princeton holds the automatic bid.

In the CAA, Drexel at three isn’t an AQ spot, since James Madison not expected to be taken as an at-large, or is, Elon, which drops from top-seed if not winning the CAA tourney, but the Dragons have a strong case for at-large status.

Delaware, in the fourth slot, is on the bubble and will need to make some kind of run this weekend for the WNIT.

Penn State out of the Big Ten is likely to go WNIT as an at-large team, and, of course, Rutgers is nowhere until the Scarlet Knights take the floor next year.

CAA Awards Glory for Drexel and Delaware

Drexel set a program record placing three players on the all-conference squads in the Colonial Athletic Association prior to the start of the conference tournament Wednesday at preseason favorite and defending champion James Madison.

Delaware also did nicely while the freshman of the year from James Madison Kamiah Smalls is a Neumann-Gorretti graduate from Philadelphia.

Drexel’s Sarah Curran made the first team for a third straight season, while Meghan Creighton and Jessica Pellechio made the third team. Freshman Bailey Greenberg was named to the all-freshmen squad.

Delaware’s Nicole Enabasi made the first team, and the Blue Hens’ Erika Brown made the third team. Enabasi also made the all-defensive team.

Player of the year, no surprise, is James Madison’s Precious Hall, while coach of the year, no surprise, either, is Elon’s Charlotte Smith, Charleston’s Breanna Bolden is defensive player of the year, and Elon’s Lauren Brown is the Dean Ehlers recipient.

Next year the CAA is at Drexel, followed by Delaware in 2019.

The NCAA Winner/Loser Rundown

Here’s what it looks like with completed conferences to date:

America East – Maine/Albany playing for title, either a wrong winner, tough luck for New Hampshire.

American – UConn favored and add Temple and St. John’s.

Atlantic Coast – Notre Dame wins, six other locks, Virginia on the bubble

Atlantic 10 – Dayton predicted; George Washington, bubble, same for Saint Louis.

Big East – Marquette wrong winner maybe. Creighton fate in limbo; DePaul now an at-large lock.

Big Ten – Maryland, by seed, upset winner, but going anyway with Ohio State. Add Michigan, possibly Indiana and/or Purdue. Michigan State a bubble.

Big 12 – West Virginia upset winner, looks like would have gone anyway; Five more out of here.

MAAC – Quinnipiac was favored and won title.

PAC-12 Stanford upset winner but not wrong winner. Six coming out of here with Oregon added.

SEC – South Carolina was favored. Five more coming out of here.

West Coast – Gonzaga, favored.

Horizon – Green Bay, favored.

Southern – Chattanooga

That’s it for the moment. We’ll have better focus in the next 24 hours with more precision.



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