In her second season at the helm, Carolyn Kieger has guided Marquette to a 9-9 record in the Big East. That's a major improvement from 4-14 in her first season, and it earned Marquette the #6 seed in the Big East tournament. Officially, the Golden Eagles finished in a tie for fifth place with Georgetown, but MU lost a tiebreaker to the Hoyas to end up on the sixth line in the league standings.
This tiebreaker loss might end up biting Marquette in the butt.
You see, Marquette had a rough go of things in the non-conference section of the schedule, particularly when they started out the season with four straight losses. As a result, Marquette has an overall record of 14-15. Again, after finishing 9-22 a year ago, you can't really say anything bad about that record.
However, it might end up keeping Marquette out of the postseason.
It's not going to be a surprise to you to find out that MU doesn't have any chance of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Like I said, they're 14-15. That's not an at-large type of record. That's fine. There's a women's iteration of the NIT, though, and that's where this sixth place finish starts to be a problem.
There's two ways into the 64 team WNIT: automatic bids and at-large bids. Let's deal with the second one first. According to the WNIT's official website:
Any team considered for an at-large berth must have an overall record of .500 or better. Overall record includes conference tournament games.
Well, that's a problem. The only way Marquette is finishing with a record of .500 or better is by making it to the Big East championship game. They'll need to beat Seton Hall on Sunday to get to .500 and win in the semifinals to move above .500, thus guaranteeing MU at least a .500 record. Even once Marquette gets to a .500 record, there's still the matter of actually having a good enough profile to actually get one of those 32 at large bids. Since there's still work to do to get to .500 on the season, let's look at the automatic bids, shall we?
A team that is offered an automatic berth by the WNIT shall be the team that is a.) the highest-finishing team in its conference's regular-season standings, and b.) is then not selected for the NCAA Tournament. It does not matter what the team's overall record is.
Hey, that's good! Marquette could finish at or under .500 and get into the WNIT on the automatic bid, as long as they're the best Big East team that's not in the NCAA tournament! Hey, ESPN's Charlie Creme, how's the Big East doing in your projections as far as total teams in the field?
Four, as of Tuesday morning. Well, okay, Marquette tied for fifth in the standings, so maybe there's some sort of....
In the event of a tie among teams under consideration for the WNIT automatic berth, the WNIT will abide by conference bylaws that have been set up specifically to address a tie-breaking situation in that specific conference.
So, if DePaul, Seton Hall, St. John's, and Villanova are the Big East's four representatives in the NCAA tournament, then Georgetown gets issued the Big East's automatic bid to the WNIT. That means Marquette would need to get to .500 by getting to the Big East championship game to have a shot at getting picked as an at-large team for the WNIT.
If my calculations are correct, these are Marquette's hopes for continuing to play beyond the Big East tournament:
- Win the Big East tournament; get automatic bid to NCAA tournament
- Hope Georgetown wins the Big East tournament while not damaging the at large prospects of any of the the top four teams in the league; get automatic bid to WNIT
- Lose in the Big East tournament finals and hope & pray; hopefully get WNIT at-large bid