DULUTH, Ga. — Dawn Staley didnt want to talk much about it.
One reason was because she doesnt know what will go on in that room when the NCAA tournament selection committee meets. Another reason was because she has more pressing things on her mind like getting fifth-ranked South Carolina to play like the team that won the SEC regular-season championship, not stumbled to two losses in its past three games, including on Saturday to a Kentucky team it had beaten twice this year.
The waiting is beginning for everybody, since the selection committee wont announce the NCAA womens bracket for another week. But some teams such as Tennessee were playing on Sunday while the Gamecocks werent.
USC had been projected to be a top seed in the NCAA tournament for the past few weeks. But, on Sunday, bracketologist Charlie Cremes latest edition had the Gamecocks slipping to a No. 2 seed. Tennessee, which won the SEC tournament later on Sunday, had taken over as the fourth No. 1.
We had control of it if we were to keep winning. But, at this point, I cant even elaborate on it, Staley said after the Kentucky loss.
The Gamecocks had edged into the discussion with their regular-season championship run. UConn and Notre Dame, each undefeated, will receive top seeds, and the other two were up for debate. Stanford has been a constant as well, with three losses this season to Washington, UConn and Southern Cal.
That left two others fighting for the final No. 1 spot. Louisville has lost three games, but two have been to UConn. The Cardinals RPI is one spot below USCs, and their strength of schedule is a less-than-impressive 53, by far the lowest in the RPI top 10.
Creme placed Louisville as a No. 2 seed in Sundays update.
Tennessee has lost five games to Stanford, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Kentucky and LSU but ranks one spot above USC in RPI, and 22 spots above in strength of schedule. The Lady Vols also beat the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks seem to be out of luck.
Louisville is also still playing, preparing for the American Athletic Conference tournament final against UConn on Monday night. Even if the Cardinals knock off the Huskies, that doesnt do USC any favors, since it would boost Louisville and UConn wouldnt fall far with one loss.
While Stanford was beaten by Southern Cal in the Pac-12 tournament, the Gamecocks were beaten in their conference tournament while Tennessee won it. The Cardinal rank higher than USC in RPI and SOS.
SEC Player of the Year Tiffany Mitchell, downcast in the locker room, was as non-committal as her coach.
Thats up to the board, she said. We controlled our own destiny, and we fell short today.
RPI and SOS numbers via realtimerpi.com. Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState