We are now officially 100 days away from selections being announced for the 2020 NCAA women’s basketball tournament. And with that, it’s time to look at some unranked teams who have the talent and potential to not only make it into the 64-team field — but even make a run in the tournament.
Here are 9 unranked teams basketball fans should keep on their radar for the rest of the season:
Out of the Summit League, South Dakota currently sits at 8-1 with the squad’s only loss to a ranked Missouri State team. The Coyotes have wins over Utah, Drake and Ohio State to add to their resume. Ciara Duffy leads South Dakota in scoring, averaging 17 points a game and shooting over 50 percent from the 3-point line. The Coyotes certainly have a chance to crack the top 25 this season and NCAA.com’s Michelle Smith has them projected as an 8-seed in her most recent bracket prediction.
The buzz in Iowa is real this season. In Drake’s last outing the Bulldogs played in front of a program-record and sellout crowd of 7,081 fans in their 103-18 win over Waldorf. Yes, that score is not a typo. The Bulldogs are 7-2 with losses against South Dakota and Purdue. They face Oklahoma and Iowa in December. Wins in these non-conference games could help add to Drake’s resume. The team will also have two chances to face a currently ranked Missouri State team in conference play.
Florida Gulf Coast
Florida Gulf Coast is another team that could sneak its way into the top 25 rankings this season. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, FGCU won the Cancun Challenge championship, defeating Notre Dame, USF and South Dakota State. The team’s overall records sits at 9-1, with its one blemish being a loss to Princeton on the road when the team recorded a season-high in turnovers with 19.
In the latest AP top 25, the Orange missed the cut for the first time in 31 weeks. Syracuse has faced some tough competition, falling to the previous No. 1 Oregon Ducks and the current No. 1 Stanford Cardinal. On Thursday, Syracuse fell to No. 24 Michigan and will face UMBC on Sunday. The Orange have a chance to pick up some big wins in conference play. They’ll face Louisville on Dec. 29 and will continue to have tough tests through January. Some big wins over conference foes could propel the Orange back into the rankings and prep them for March.
The Tigers are 6-1 and according to Smith, Princeton could receive the automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament out of the Ivy League. Princeton suffered an overtime loss to Iowa, which could have potentially propelled to the Tigers into the rankings. Up next for the Tigers is a slate of non-conference games. Princeton will face Marist, Penn State, Missouri and St. Louis in the month of December.
The Tar Heels are 7-0 under new head coach Courtney Banghart. Banghart, who came to Chapel Hill from Princeton, has the Tar Heels off to their best start since the 2014-15 season. The Tar Heels will have a tough conference schedule in the competitive ACC starting at the end of December. North Carolina could be a bubble team, but any big wins later in the season could easily bring the Tar Heels into the discussion on selection day.
NCAA.com's Smith has Marist winning the MAAC and making the tournament as a 14-seed. Senior Rebekah Hand is leading the team in points, 3-pointers made and steals. Hand is just one of a handful of seniors on the team who are looking to lead the Red Foxes to their first NCAA appearance since 2014.
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West Virginia is 5-1 overall and has been receiving votes in the latest top 25 poll. The Mountaineers will have a tough tests before Christmas at the Florida Sunshine Classic when they face the Michigan State and Syracuse.
Although this is a rebounding year for the Irish and it’s the first time the team is unranked in 12 years under head coach Muffet McGraw, you can’t count Notre Dame out this season just yet. The Irish have some challenging games on their schedule including a Dec. 8 meeting with UConn and a Dec. 11 game vs. DePaul before heading into conference play. Seeing a struggling Notre Dame team might be a new feeling for many fans, but it doesn’t mean they can’t make some magic happen in March.