For the first time, the NCAA Women’s Soccer Committee released a midseason top-10 ranking on Oct. 16, indicating which teams the committee sees as the best in DI women’s soccer. This comes with just three weeks until selections — which are Monday, Nov. 7 — when the full 64-team bracket will be revealed at 3:30 p.m. ET on NCAA.com.
So I’m taking a crack at predicting the full bracket, a task that has made me even less envious of the people who actually have to make the final decision next month. These picks are based on a few principles: how I think the remainder of the regular season and conference tournaments will go, the committee’s selection criteria and its bracketing strategy, which has been revised this season.
This NCAA’s Competition Oversight Committee’s new strategy increases the number of seeded teams from 16 to 32. Here’s the statement from the NCAA:
“Fifty percent of the bracket will be seeded in four groupings of 1-8. Published seeding will be in four sets of 1-8 and the pairings will honor a 1-8 seed assignment. The committee will identify the top 32 teams. The top 16 teams will be identified in rank order and assigned a seed grouping from 1 to 4. The balance of the ranked teams, in turn, are assigned to one of the remaining seed groupings (i.e., 5 to 8). Once the seed assignment is finalized, it remains unchanged while placing the teams into the championship bracket. First and second-round conference matchups will be avoided.”
What this means for the purposes of this prediction is that I will project the top 16 seeds and seeds 17-32. This includes the 31 automatic qualifiers from each conference and the remainder of the field selected by a combination of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), results versus common opponents and head-to-head competition.
Note: all projections were made based on results through Oct. 20.
2022 DI women's soccer bracket predictions, two weeks from selections
Star denotes automatic qualifier*
|(1) North Carolina* vs. Campbell*||(1) Alabama* vs. Grambling State*|
|Georgia vs. (8) UCF*||Oklahoma State vs. (8) NC State|
|(5) South Carolina vs. Lamar*||(5) Pittsburgh vs. Cal State Fullerton*|
|Texas State* vs. (4) Texas*||San Diego State* vs. (4) BYU*|
|(3) Virginia vs. Fairfield*||(3) Northwestern vs. South Dakota State*|
|California vs. (6) Xavier*||Wake Forest vs. (6) Arizona State|
|(7) Clemson vs. Buffalo*||(7) Southern Cal vs. LSU|
|Milwaukee* vs. (2) Michigan State||Chattanooga* vs. (2) Florida State|
|(2) Stanford vs. Utah Tech*||(2) Duke vs. Liberty*|
|Pepperdine* vs. (7) Portland||Mississippi State vs. (7) Georgetown|
|(6) Ohio State vs. Washington State||(6) Harvard vs. Maine*|
|Missouri State* vs. (3) Arkansas||Army* vs. (3) Penn State*|
|(4) Rutgers vs. Central Connecticut State*||(4) Saint Louis* vs. Vanderbilt|
|Monmouth* vs. (5) Brown*||UAB* vs. (5) TCU|
|(8) Tennessee vs. Wisconsin||(8) Texas A&M vs. Santa Clara|
|Tennessee Tech* vs. (1) Notre Dame||Idaho* vs. (1) UCLA*|
Here's my bracket (click or tap to open in new tab or window).
Top 16 teams predicted (overall seed in parentheses)
(1) North Carolina
(4) Notre Dame
(6) Florida State
(8) Penn State
(9) Michigan State
(15) Saint Louis
These seedings are a projection of the committee's seeding at the end of the season, based on results through Oct. 20. Which means it also includes a little projection of how I think the final weeks of the regular season and conference tournaments will go. You'll notice I have Penn State one spot higher than Michigan State (which results in a two seed versus a three seed), and that's because even though the Spartans won their first Big Ten regular-season title in program history, I think the Nittany Lions have a better chance of winning in knockout soccer.
As for the Pac-12 (one of three conferences that do not hold a postseason tournament, along with the Ivy League and WCC), yes UCLA lost to Stanford, but the Bruins still hold first place. They do not meet again, and I anticipate that the Bruins will win out.
31 Automatic Qualifiers
Projecting the winners of every conference, here are 31 AQs in the DI women's soccer tournament field. The remaining spots are given at-large bids.
|CONFERENCE||AQ||RPI (as of 10/20)|
|Atlantic 10||Saint Louis||12|
|Big Ten||Penn State||8|
|Big West||Cal State Fullerton||71|
|Missouri Valley||Missouri State||127|
|Mountain West||San Diego State||124|
|NEC||Central Connecticut State||191|
|Ohio Valley||Tennessee Tech||143|
|Summit League||South Dakota State||57|
|Sun Belt||Texas State||55|