Filling out the dance card
Notebook: Conference tourneys
As the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee prepares to assemble in Indianapolis this weekend to begin the selection, seeding and bracketing process for the 2013 championship, many questions remain to be answered over the next several days regarding automatic bids. While Baylor, Chattanooga, Duke, Gonzaga, Liberty, Marist, Middle Tennessee, Notre Dame, Princeton, Purdue, South Dakota State, Stanford, Stetson, Tennessee-Martin and Texas A&M have punched their ticket to the dance, 16 more conference tournaments and subsequent bids remain in the balance this week.
For those teams on the outside looking in, they won’t know if they have received an at-large bid until Selection Monday, March 18 when the 64 team bracket is announced at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Here’s a look at the conference tournaments taking place this week:
America East Conference
SEFCU Arena, Albany, N.Y., March 16
For the 12th time in 28 America East Conference Championships, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will square off in the title game as No. 1 seed Albany and No. 2 Hartford face each other on Saturday at SEFCU Arena in Albany. Albany, the defending conference tournament champion, will be looking for its third win against Hartford this season, winning 55-48 in overtime at home in January and 69-55 at Hartford in February.
Atlantic 10 Conference
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., March 16
Fordham’s Cinderella season continues as the Rams will face off against Saint Joseph’s in the championship game of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament on Saturday. Fordham comes into the game with a record of 24-7 and will be playing in its first Atlantic 10 championship game. Fordham advanced to the title game with a semifinals win against Temple, giving head coach Stephanie Gaitley her 500th career victory. Saint Joseph's, 22-8 and the No. 4 seed, knocked off regular-season champion Dayton to advance. Fordham won the only meeting between the two schools this year, 70-63 in overtime on Feb. 24 at home.
Big Sky Conference
Dahlberg Arena, Missoula, Mont., March 14-16
Montana, the Big Sky Conference regular-season champion will have the advantage of playing at home throughout its conference tournament. The Lady Griz, 22-7 overall, went 13-2 at Dahlberg Arena this season. Montana head coach Robin Selvig is looking to lead the Lady Griz to the NCAA tournament for the 20th time. The No. 2 seed is Northern Colorado, 18-11, which split the season series with Montana this season.
Big West Conference
Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif., March 15-16
Pacific, 24-6, didn’t clinch the Big West Conference regular-season championship until the final day of the regular season and will be looking to carry that momentum into seeking its first possible NCAA tournament appearance. The Tigers closed the season on a five-game winning streak. Cal Poly, 19-10 and Hawaii, 17-12, are the next two seeds. Pacific lost both regular season meetings to Cal Poly, while defeating Hawaii in its only meeting.
Colonial Athletic Association
Show Place Arena, Upper Marlboro, Md., March 14-17
Delaware’s last loss came on Dec. 20 against Maryland. Winners of 22 in a row, the 27-3 Fighting Blue Hens feature a potent offense led by senior All-American Elena Delle Donne, the No. 2 scorer in the nation at 25.5 points per game. Looking for a fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, Delaware’s top competition will come from No. 2 seed, James Madison (21-9) and No. 3 Drexel (20-9).
Tulsa Convention Center, Tulsa, Okla., March 13-16
Junior guard Keena Mays, a transfer from Kansas, guided SMU, 21-8, to its second Conference USA regular season title (2008) and its fourth 20th win season in the league. Conference Player of the Year, Mays averaged 18.6 points per game and netted 20 or more points in nine games. Tulane, 22-7 and East Carolina, 21-7, will challenge SMU. The Mustangs split the season series with Tulane and lost in the only meeting against East Carolina.
Highest Remaining Seed Hosts., March 11-17
With an unbeaten streak now extending more than three months, Green Bay, 26-2, will be seeking its fifth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance in 2013. The Phoenix’ last loss came on Dec. 5 to Central Michigan. Youngstown State, 21-8, is the No. 2 seed, but will have to play its best to win on Green Bay’s home court where they have lost only once this season as long as the Phoenix advance in the tournament.
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, March 13-16
Toledo, 27-2, is the No. 1 seed entering the Mid-American Conference Tournament and is seeking an NCAA tournament appearance for the first time since 2001. No. 2 seed Ball State, 15-14 and No. 3 seed Akron, 21-8 will be looking for the upset against a Toledo team that has won 15 consecutive games to end the regular season.
Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, Va., March 11-16
Looking for its fourth consecutive automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, Hampton, 25-6, is the prohibitive favorite going into the Mid-Eastern Conference Tournament. Undefeated at 16-0 in conference play, Hampton has yet to lose in 2013, reeling off 16 consecutive wins since losing on Dec. 30 to Virginia Tech. North Carolina A&T, 21-8 is the No. 2 seed.
Missouri Valley Conference
Family Arena, St. Charles, Mo., March 14-17
Since the 2000-01 season, the No. 1 seed has won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament just four times (2002, '04, '08 and '11). Eleven winners of the tournament came from a seed other than the No. 1 seed. This doesn’t bode well for conference regular season co-champions Creighton (23-6) and Wichita State (21-9). Both teams went 15-3 in conference play, with Creighton the No. 1 seed. Watch Illinois State, 21-9, as a possible sleeper.
|WOMEN'S FINAL FOUR TICKETS|
A select number of individual all-session tickets to the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four in New Orleans are currently available for purchase by logging on to www.ncaa.com/tickets.
All-session tickets will enable the ticket holder to watch the two national semifinal games on April 7, beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT, and the national championship game on April 9 that tips off at 7:30 p.m. CT. All games will be played at New Orleans Arena.
Mountain West Conference
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev., March 12-16
Winners of 15 consecutive games, San Diego State, 24-5 is the regular-season champion and No. 1 seed entering the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas. Looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in the past five years, San Diego State will be challenged by Fresno State (21-8) and Wyoming (23-6).
Highest Remaining Seed Hosts, March 13-17
Quinnipiac, 28-2, will be looking for its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013. The Bobcats went 18-0 in conference play this season with an average margin of victory in conference play of over 17 points per game. Biggest threat to Quinnipiac appears to be No. 2 seed Sacred Heart, even though the Bobcats prevailed by a cumulative 34 points in two games against Sacred Heart during the regular season.
Alumni Hall, Annapolis, Md., March 16
Navy, the No. 2 seed and No. 4 Holy Cross will play for a second consecutive season in the championship game of the Patriot League Tournament. Navy won last year by a 57-48 to earn a second trip to the NCAA tournament. The game between Navy and Holy Cross will mark the third time in league history in which the same teams have matched up in the Patriot League title game. Holy Cross and Navy met for the trophy in 1998 and '99, while the Crusaders met Fordham three consecutive years from 1993-95. Navy won both games against Holy Cross this season.
Leonard E. Merrell Center, Katy, Texas, March 13-16
No. 1 seed Oral Roberts (16-12) will be looking for its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2008 when it plays in its first Southland Conference Tournament. The Eagles shared the conference regular-season championship with Sam Houston State (17-13) with identical 13-5 conference records. The two teams split two games during the regular season, with Oral Roberts dominating by a 90-40 on Feb. 14 at home.
Southwestern Athletic Conference
Curtis Culwell Center, Garland, Texas, March 12-16
Texas Southern, 19-10, is the No. 1 seed and will be seeking its first NCAA tournament appearance. The Tigers closed the regular season with 15 wins in the past 16 games, with only a defeat to Southern, which enters tournament play as the No. 3 seed. Mississippi Valley State, 15-14, is the No. 2 seed.
Western Athletic Conference
Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, Nev., March 12-16
Seattle, the No. 1 seed and regular-season champion will be looking to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in its first season as a Western Athletic Conference member. The Redhawks, 18-9 overall and 15-3 in conference play, didn’t clinch the regular season until its final day. Utah State, 17-12, appears ready to challenge Seattle for the automatic bid. The teams split a pair of games during the regular season.