March 18, 2024 

Selection committee chair discusses the 2024 NCAA Tournament

Final No. 1 seed, bubble teams were big debate topics, says committee chair

After the dust settled on Selection Sunday, the NCAA Division I women’s basketball selection committee accomplished what their mission was: create a 68-team field for the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

But getting that field chosen, seeded and set up? That was the hard part.

Get 24/7 soccer coverage with The Equalizer

The Next is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribe to The Next now and receive 50% off your subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

Committee chair Lisa Peterson met with media members on a Zoom call shortly after the conclusion of the Selection Sunday television show on ESPN. Before Peterson even fielded a question, she made note that she’s “never been in a room that was so highly debated” in her four years as committee chair.

“We went back and revisited all the teams that we put into the bracket,” Peterson explained. “It’s really what we’ve been saying all year is that in women’s college basketball, there’s so much parity happening and it makes it really exciting for the game.” 

What was not up for the debate was that the South Carolina Gamecocks, led by head coach Dawn Staley, were the top overall seed as the only undefeated team in the nation. The Gamecocks are hoping to win the national title for the second time in three years, while the defending national champions and fellow SEC school LSU were given a No.3 seed — the same seed the Tigers received last year before beating Iowa in the championship game.

The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff and dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

But beyond South Carolina, there were questions all throughout about seeding starting with the committee giving Texas the fourth No. 1 seed over Stanford. The Cardinal had been a No. 1 seed in three consecutive tournaments, but will now be the No. 2 seed in the Portland Regional 4 with Texas.

According to Peterson, recent performance for both teams was a deciding factor.

“What it came down to was Texas has to beat three tournament teams to win the Big 12 Championship and they also went 9-1 in their last 10 games,” Peterson said. She added that, while Stanford had a tougher non-conference schedule, the Cardinal went 8-2 in their last 10 games and, according to Peterson, had their worst loss of the season in that span. “When you’re trying to slip a piece of paper between teams, that’s what it came down to.”

That recent performance can also be what ended up determining the bubble teams as well. Peterson revealed the first four teams outside of the field of 68 were (in alphabetical order): Miami, Penn State, Villanova and Washington State. Miami was a team projected by several experts to make the field, leading Peterson to answer a question specifically about the Hurricanes.

“it really just came down to the losses that they had and how they looked in those losses,” Peterson said. “Miami was a very up-and-down team throughout the season — flashes of brilliance and then some when they struggled.”

While Miami was expected to be in and missed, the team who many expected to be left out but ended up as one of the last four teams in was Columbia from the Ivy League. The Lions will play in a First Four game later this week, and Peterson once again said that their recent form was a key factor. She specifically mentioned their 21 wins in their last 23 games.

“They played an incredibly good Princeton team [in the Ivy League Tournament title game] — we actually watched that game together as a committee and we thought it was more about what Princeton had done than what Columbia hadn’t done,” Peterson said of the Lions. “Great regular season. They tried to challenge themselves outside of the league, and just really felt like they deserved to be in the tournament.”

Order ‘Rare Gems’ and save 30%

Howard Megdal, founder and editor of The Next and The IX, released his next book on May 7, 2024. This deeply reported story follows four connected generations of women’s basketball pioneers, from Elvera “Peps” Neuman to Cheryl Reeve and from Lindsay Whalen to Sylvia Fowles and Paige Bueckers.

If you enjoy his coverage of women’s basketball every Wednesday at The IX, you will love “Rare Gems: How Four Generations of Women Paved the Way for the WNBA.” Click the link below to order and enter MEGDAL30 at checkout.

On the whole, Peterson believes there is more parity in the sport now than there ever has been. She cited both the transfer portal and the name, image and likeness (NIL) money as big changes helping that parity settle in, as well as a changing of attitudes at schools across the country.

“I think that you are seeing teams that haven’t traditionally been powerhouses in women’s basketball, they have institutions that are now putting a lot of funding into women’s basketball, and they’re making it where it is a possibility for you to get to the national championship at that institution,” Peterson said. “we have players that have been now coming into college basketball that have been playing since they were 3 years old. We have coaches who are really changing the game with how they coach.

“And there’s a lot more emphasis that’s happening. I think now it doesn’t matter if you don’t go to the four schools that you always heard of back in the ’80s and ’90s. You can you go to any school and you can win a national championship.”

Whether she proves to be right or not will be determined over the next three weeks. The NCAA Tournament will officially begin on Wednesday with the first two First Four games, with 16-seeds Sacred Heart and Presbyterian squaring off before 12-seeds Vanderbilt and Columbia battle. On Thursday, 16-seeds Holy Cross and UT Martin will played against each other, while Auburn will battle Arizona in a matchup of 11-seeds.

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

Written by Sydney Wingfield

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.