With Selection Monday behind us, the field of 64 for the women's NCAA basketball tournament is complete and you can download a printable bracket from SB Nation to view the full field and pencil in your picks.
But around SB Nation, a number of team sites are weighing in on their team's draw and while people immediately pounced on the Baylor/Texas A&M 1-2 seeding in the Dallas region, a few west coast fans are finding the Stanford/UCLA 1/3 pairing equally bothersome.
Although Stanford did probably get the objectively "toughest" bracket, as Scott Allen of SBN's Rule of Tree notes, there's so much familiarity for them in that bracket that they have every reason to enter the tournament as UConn in the Philadelphia region.
2011 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament: Stanford Earns No. 1 Seed - Rule Of Tree
A fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four will likely require the Cardinal to knock off one of two familiar foes in Xavier and UCLA, the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, in the bottom half of the Spokane bracket. Stanford beat Xavier on Jeanette Pohlen's buzzer-beating layup to advance to the Final Four last season and dominated the Musketeers, 89-52, in December. They say it's hard to beat a team three teams in one year, but if Nikki Caldwell's Bruins advance to the Elite Eight, the Cardinal will have to beat the Pac-10 runner-up a fourth time.
Given that Stanford has already established their dominance over the top teams in their bracket in a tournament that might be best served by building anticipation for new matchups, those next two seeds have every reason to be upset. Or maybe Xavier is excited about their opportunity for redemption after getting embarrassed at Maples this December. But UCLA fans have reason to be upset as described by a commenter at SBN's Bruins Nation.
UCLA Women Gain 3 seed in the West - Bruins Nation
The committee was unkind to UCLA again. Gotta think they deserved a 2, and sending the Bruins across the same region of Stanford is just baffling to me. And giving them a lower seed than a Notre Dame team that they beat on the road and with a lower RPI? I say it every year, but I’m tired of the selection committee’s bias against every west coast team other than Stanford.
Since Swish Appeal is making a concerted effort to temper East-West tensions as of late - in fact, a conciliatory rap video might be in order, with cameos from Babi Mac and Melly Mel - I won't make this entirely about coastal bias, but indeed Xavier could have been a #2 seed in Dallas to avoid a fourth meeting between Baylor and TAMU while UCLA could have legitimately been flipped to the Dayton region with Notre Dame setting up the intrigue of a potential meeting between former Lady Vol and UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell vs. Tennessee that would have been fascinating.
But all that said, SBN's Carolina March (North Carolina) is actually quite heartened by their chances in the Spokane region even if they're forced to play Stanford along the way.
UNC Women a Fifth Seed in the NCAA Tournament - Carolina March
The rest of the region is filled with the powerhouses from the West; Stanford is the number one seed and the team most likely to end the Tar Heels' season, while Xavier is the two and UCLA the three. UNC avoids a lot of the big names, and get a much better draw than say Duke, the two seed in the East with Connecticut in their bracket. The cross-country travel could be hard on Carolina, but this team was playing its best basketball two weeks ago in the ACC tournament and if they continue that type of play they could go surprisingly far in March.
Moving along to the Dayton region, some fans are no happier with their seeding there. SBN's Anonymous Eagle (Marquette) is having a hard time understanding how their team was so closely paired with Texas.
In Related News: NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Edition - Anonymous Eagle
I'm going to need someone to explain to me how the 5th place team in the Big East is an 8 seed when the sub-.500 in conference play 7th place team in the Big 12 is a 9 seed.
Unfortunately, I have no explanation for that - aside from Kat Nash, I'm not sure how Texas is better than multiple lower-seeded teams. But neither Sherri Coale nor SBN's Crimson & Cream machine probably won't entertain the notion of any Big 12 bias either after drawing a 6-seed in the Dayton region.
OU women's basketball draws a #6 seed, will face #11 James Madison - Crimson And Cream Machine
Coale has a legitimate point considering they were the #3 team in easily the best overall conference in America, so to see that number six next to their name is more than a little disappointing. Obviously the work will start, or likely did so last night, on preparing for an unfamiliar foe in James Madison
Other links from SBN blogs:
- The UConn Blog has no complaints about the Philadelphia bracket: "Feel free to pencil UConn in to the Final Four right now." Done.
- And Hammer and Rails (Purdue) has acknowledged their role as a speed bump for UConn's Final Four run and adopted the old school Jay-Z mindset: "Even if it ain't sunny, hey I ain't complainin'..."
- Hustle Belt (MAC conference) notes that #12 Bowling Green should have a fantastic atmosphere against #5 Georgia Tech and essentially co-sign James' opinion that they might be primed for an upset. Bowling Green visited Seattle earlier this year and it's hard not to be impressed with star Lauren Prochaska, who will get a chance to improve her WNBA draft stock in the tournament.
- Moving to the WNIT (brackets and info can be found here), Cal finds themselves in familiar territory without much reason for complaint by California Golden Blogs.
- Sippin On Purple (Northwestern, which - I'm sorry - reminds me of Three 6 Mafia every time I say it), is similarly understanding but is still trying to make sense of the WNIT format.