Dawn Staley looks ahead after early exit from SEC tournament
It’s been a quiet week for South Carolina women’s basketball.
After the Gamecocks’ stunning upset loss to Arkansas in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament last Friday, fans have had a while to wait and wonder where Dawn Staley and USC might wind up when the NCAA tournament field is announced Monday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
As we head into the weekend before Selection Monday, the vast majority of the major conferences and all 16 teams from the NCAA committee’s last seed reveal have finished their conference tournaments. So now all that’s left to do is speculate as to how the committee will evaluate the field and where they may send South Carolina and other teams.
ESPN bracketology expert Charlie Creme said in the immediate aftermath of the Gamecocks’ loss to Arkansas that he was knocking USC from a No. 3 seed to a No. 4, while switching its regional from Portland, Oregon, to Greensboro, North Carolina.
Since then, nothing’s happened to change his projection.
“I don’t see any movement up. I think the (quarterfinal) loss in the SEC tournament ended the chance to be a 3, but a 5 is too low,” Creme said in an email to The State. “I am confident SC will host games in Charlotte. I also think Greensboro is a good bet. Just the way the top seeds are shaking out, Greensboro is available to the Gamecocks and for those purposes it’s actually better that they are a high 4, rather than a low 3.”
In Creme’s projections, none of the No. 5 seeds did enough to bump South Carolina — Marquette and Gonzaga advanced to their respective conference tournament finals, but both lost, likely ending any chance they had of claiming a top-four seed and the right to host the first two rounds that go with it.
For High Post Hoops, Russell Steinberg has South Carolina as a No. 4 seed as well, but in the Chicago regional. Such a placement would likely frustrate Staley and Gamecock fans, who have expressed displeasure in years past with the committee’s decisions to place South Carolina in regionals that require a significant amount of travel.
At College Sports Madness, however, USC is still a No. 3 seed despite its loss to Arkansas, with no regional specifically assigned.
However, in that regional, Notre Dame was placed as the No. 1 seed, and it is widely assumed that the committee will send the Irish to Chicago as it is the closest geographically.