February 22, 2021 

NCAA bracketology: Feb. 22

Texas A&M replaces Louisville on the 1 line

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It’s been one week since the NCAA women’s basketball committee’s first seed reveal, and my latest bracket projection has been turned on its head. First, there were significant changes up top because I had to re-organize my top 16 to match the committee’s. Then, more upheaval below because I had to somehow apply their logic to the rest of the field (as best as I could gather).

As highlighted last week, it was clear that the committee will lean on the NET, despite the metric’s inherent flaws in a season with a limited non-conference schedule. That was demonstrated in Indiana’s inclusion in the top 16 and Oregon’s spot as a 3 seed. Down the bracket, that means Rutgers got the benefit of quite a few doubts, jumping from one of the first teams out to safely in the field as a 10 seed. BYU, which knocked off Gonzaga, is also in the field despite not much of a resume otherwise — that’s because the Cougars have a top-50 NET and only three losses, which also seems to matter a lot to the committee, regardless of schedule strength.

On the other hand, DePaul suffered. The Blue Demons also lost to Creighton this week and were victims of a procedural bump (see below), but their NET has hovered in the 50s most of the year and is now 64. Their wins over Kentucky and at Marquette keep them comfortably in the field, but not in the 6/7 seed range that maybe they should be.

Changes from the reveal

With most teams in the field having played another game or two (or three) since the committee revealed its top 16 seeds, the order has changed a bit. UConn is still the No. 1 overall seed, but South Carolina’s loss to Tennessee, paired with Stanford’s win over Oregon, has moved the Cardinal to the No. 2 spot. The Gamecocks are No. 3 overall, and Texas A&M stole the last 1 seed by winning its games and watching Louisville lose at Florida State. Louisville might need a win over NC State in the ACC tournament to get back to the 1 line.

Last week, I wondered where Michigan was in the reveal, given that it seemed to meet the committee’s preferred criteria. Since then, the Wolverines beat Michigan State and Ohio State, sandwiching a close loss at Indiana. I felt that was enough to justify putting them back on the 4 line where I think they belonged to begin with. They replaced Oregon, whose inclusion I did not agree with, after the Ducks lost their third straight game on Friday.

Watch the records

If you’re a fan of a team in the First Four Out or Next Four Out, be aware that you might have a couple of free chances to move up on the seed list. A trio of Pac-12 schools make up my last team in and first two out (Washington State, Oregon State, and Colorado) and all three are either right at .500 or a game over. If any dips under, it will be temporarily removed from consideration, freeing up a spot. The committee will not take a sub-.500 team overall, but those three schools have strong enough resumes to warrant possible inclusion for now.

Nitty Gritty:

Bids by Conference:

ACC: 8
Big Ten: 8
SEC: 8
Big 12: 5
Pac-12: 5
Big East: 3
American: 2
WCC: 2

Procedural bumps:

DePaul from a 9 to a 10
Rutgers from a 10 to a 9

North Carolina from an 11 to a 12
Stephen F. Austin from a 12 to an 11

Last Four In:

North Carolina
Washington State

First Four Out:

Oregon State
Notre Dame

Next Four Out:

South Dakota

Next Update: 3/1

Written by Russell Steinberg

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