As the Big 12 enters year 1 AG (after Griner) it does so as a league that, for the first time in years, has no clear-cut favorite. The conference as a whole looks less powerful than it has in the past as it has no teams without major question marks. Oklahoma looks to be the front-runner, but the Sooners are a team with several significant limitations. The Cowgirls return a balanced squad. Baylor returns the league’s best player and some talented youngsters. If those players grow up quickly, the Bears could add another league championship to their resume.
The United States captured its third straight and ninth overall World University Games women’s basketball gold medal with a 90-71 victory over the previously undefeated Russian Federation Monday in Kazan, Russia. In the third place game, Australia cruised to the bronze with a 99-58 rout of Chinese Taipei.
So if Stanford beats Baylor on a neutral site, Stanford is better than Baylor, right? And so, it seems right, at least for now, that No. 1 Stanford (6-0) is ranked ahead of No. 3 Baylor (5-1) in both major women's basketball polls ....
So much for team’s reliance on home cooking to propel them to the Sweet 16. In the Fresno Region, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and Purdue all fell on their home court in the second round and Hampton, playing surrogate host a few miles from their campus, lost in the first round.
Instead confident teams like Stanford, Duke, St. John’s and South Carolina--just in town for business--took charge before retooling their itineraries for Fresno.
There are ten teams in the Big 12 conference, but you might not know it this season, as the Baylor Lady Bears are the subject of pretty close to one-hundred percent of the chatter.
And fair enough: in their win against Texas Tech on Saturday, the team clinched a share in the conference championship and moved to 27-0 (14-0 Big 12). Baylor isn’t just winning—the team, led by junior center Brittney Griner, is routing opponents, winning by an average of 29 points per contest.
This addition completes our article Bubble Wrap III 2011: Week of March 13, 2011 -- Final Wrap for those readers whose browsers do not support our article body extension. It includes locks and bubble teams for the PAC-10, Southeastern, Sun Belt, West Coast and Western Athletic Conferences.
It's that time of year again! With conference tournaments wrapped up, March Madness is right around the corner. Full Court analyst Jim Carson is back once more to help with his annual "Bubble Wrap," a perennial favorite of Full Court subscribers, to help sort out who's likely to join that envied field of 64 come Selection Monday.
Unlike the men's field, 30 of the 64 berths in the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament field are reserved for the conference champions (automatic bids). All but one of of those automatic bids was determined in the conference tournaments that transpired across the country over the past two weeks. The last was sewn up last week when Princeton nailed down the Ivy League regular-season championship, moving them off the bubble and into one of the automatic conference bids. (The Ivies do not hold a conference tournament, so their regular-season champ gets the automatic bid.)
That leaves 33 "at-large" berths for the NCAA's Selection Committee to allot to the worthiest teams in the nation. Over the past several weeks, Jim Carson brought you the first two installments in his series of "Bubble Wraps" -- analyses of which teams have likely already wrapped up at large bids through their bodies of work to date, and which teams remain "on the bubble" with a legitimate chance at an at-large bid.
Obviously, until the bracket is formally announced by the committee on March 14 before a national TV audience, anyone's predictions of the field will contain a fair dose of speculation. Still, some outcomes are (far) more probable than others.
Now that we know the conference tournament champions, we've also seen a number of the teams we previously regarded as "locks" -- or even as mere "bubbles" -- secure their invitations to the Big Dance. Of the 31 Division I NCAA Conferences, there are now seven -- the ACC (5), the A-10 (1), the Big East (6), the Big Ten (3), the Big XII (5), the Pac-10 (1) and the SEC (3) -- that we view as having one or more teams whose success at this point in this season has been such that they can safely be considered "locks" for the tournament. In all, Jim identifies 24 teams in those eight conferences who, he believes, have already locked up their tournament berths.
By simple subtraction, that leaves nine at-large berths still up for grabs. Last week, Jim identified 40 teams, in 16 conferences, with teams still considered on the "bubble," down from our first installment of Bubble Wrap, as some locked their places, others have dropped out of contention, and still others have played their way into consideration. This week, we see the number of teams remaining on the bubble is down to 28, spread across 13 conferences -- the ACC (1), A-10 (6), Big East (3), Big Ten (3), Big XII (1), Colonial (1), Conference USA (1), Missouri Valley (2), Mountain West (2), PAC-10 (3), SEC (3), Sun Belt (1) and the WAC (1) -- vying for those nine remaining berths.
Obviously, the outlook for some of those 28 teams appears much better than it does for others; as Jim explains, for some, the prospects are next to nil. But for now, we are still spreading our nets wide, including any team that can make its case for a bid with a straight face.
Last year, for those keeping track, Jim was spot on with his tournament predictions by the "Final Wrap." We'll soon know how he fared this year.
For now, let's take a look at women's college basketball's 31 automatics, the 24 locks, and the 28 remaining bubble teams.
This addition completes our article Bubble Wrap 2011: Week of February 22, 2011 for those readers whose browsers do not support our article body extension. It includes locks and bubble teams for the Southeastern, Sun Belt, West Coast and Western Athletic Conferences.