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NCAA Women's Selection: Much Less Dramatic

The Men's Selection Show was a bit of a bummer for Vols fans. Today will be less of a nailbiter, with only two points of drama to unfold for the Lady Vols: number and location.

Because the picture is awesome.  That's why.
Because the picture is awesome. That's why.

For He-Vols fans, Sunday was less than fun.

With that out of the way, let's look at the Women's selection show. There are fewer surprises to unfold, both for Tennessee and for the bracket at large. This is for a couple of reasons: first, the actual status of the teams leaves less room for question, as you don't have a bunch of teams on seemingly equal-ish footing for those last few spots. Second, and this really isn't up for debate after yesterday: the women's committee is far less capricious and arbitrary, and much more constrained to well-defined selection criteria. (Those criteria will drive some people crazy, but they're still well understood prior to the start of the season.)

First, the Bracket at large:

Before we talk about the Ladies, let's remember a few basic things overall. The #1 seeds are a given: Baylor, Notre Dame, Stanford, and UConn in that order. Duke has some argument, but will still be a #2 thanks to getting demolished by UConn earlier in the year. The #2 seeds are Duke, Cal, Kentucky, and ...? Most likely that answer will be Penn State, but Tennessee has an argument here. We'll assume Tennessee is a 3.

Outside the top few, the SEC should sport 7 teams total: Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and LSU (and not necessarily in any order there). Florida and Arkansas had opportunities, but both trailed off at the end of the regular season and are not going to make it. Still, that's 50% of the league in the bracket, which is as many as you'd ever expect, outside an unusually strong year.

If you want a quick peek at a very reasonable bracket, Charlie Creme of ESPN does a fantastic job every year. When he assembles the lineup, he obeys the rules that the selection committee must obey, and will shift teams along the S-curve as needed. (Kentucky will be a hardest SEC team to place, thanks to being a high seed and also not hosting a regional. Expect some complaint from our sistren in blue, but them's the rules in the women's field.)

Now the Lady Vols

Ok, the likehood is a 3 seed, but what's really important is to avoid being in the same region as Duke. The Lady Blue Devils are closer to being a #1 seed than they are to being any of the other #2 seeds, and facing them is practically like facing two #1 seeds within a region. If Tennessee wants the best shot at the Final Four, then having a strong run to the Elite Eight is in order, and the other 2 seeds (Cal or PSU but not Kentucky due to selection rules) would be much more preferable. (The odds of getting Duke are about 50/50 if Tennessee is a 3 seed, thanks again to the selection constraints.)

If Tennessee gets a 2 seed, then their odds of getting a favorable Sweet 16 match increase dramatically. They would be looking at either Nebraska or PSU as their 3 seed, and that's not bad at all.

So if you're so inclined to watch the women's selection show, relax and enjoy. It won't be anything so dramatic as the men's show. And the Lady Vols, no matter what, are in the tournament.


Also on the '3, though the blackout map says only the west coast will get it. It's been wrong before though, so try your luck if you feel like it.