Welcome to Selection Monday, everyone.
Things are a little different for Marquette women’s basketball in 2018 than they were in 2017. Last year, Marquette was 1) already holding the Big East’s automatic bid to the tournament and 2) kind of maybe just happy to be in the field. After all, it was the first time that Marquette had made the NCAA tournament since 2011, and it was a pretty great accomplishment for a team largely driven by sophomores to accomplish as much as they had accomplished to that point of the season.
The changes in 2018 are subtle, but they are there. First, Marquette is waiting for an at-large berth after getting cracked by DePaul in the Big East tournament title game. They’ll get it (more on that in a moment), but there’s always a little bit of trepidation when you’re not locked into a berth already. Second, there’s that 98-63 loss to the Blue Demons lurking in the back of their minds. Third, there’s the 68-65 loss to #12 seeded Quinnipiac in last year’s NCAA tournament also lurking in the back of their minds. Every trip to the NCAA tournament is special in its own way, but the Golden Eagles are well aware of the sacrifices necessary to survive and advance this time around.
I don’t mean to make this all seem very dour. There are reasons to be excited about tonight’s selection show. ESPN’s Charlie Creme last updated his bracketology projections on Sunday night at 10pm Central, and he has the Golden Eagles easily in the field as a #8 seed, pairing off with #9 seed Dayton in the first round. The cutline for at-large bids is way down below the best #11 seed in the field, so there’s no reason to be concerned about MU’s entry to the bracket. Russ Steinberg of Summitt Hoops is more bullish on Marquette’s prospects, slotting them as a #7 seed and facing off against #10 Minnesota in the first round. He has the cutline in the middle of the #11 seeds, one spot lower than Creme, although Steinberg’s bracket was updated in the middle of the day before the final conference tournament games were played.
Either way, Marquette projects as safely in the field, and that’s good news by itself. Even better, it means that the Golden Eagles will make the tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time since a four year run from 1997 through 2000. If you ask me, I think I would actually prefer Creme’s #8 seed to Steinberg’s #7. Yes, I know, one step down, blah blah blah. However, the NCAA has the top 4 seeds in each region host for the first two rounds. In Steinberg’s bracket, that sends Marquette off to South Carolina for a possible second round meeting with the #2 seeded Gamecocks. That’s all well and good, but Creme’s bracket has MU shipping down I-90 to South Bend, where #1 seed Notre Dame looms in the second round. I don’t know about you, but after Marquette lost by six in overtime to the Irish in December, I’d like to see the squad get a second crack at Muffet McGraw and company, especially with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line.
2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Selection Show
Date: Monday, March 12, 2018
Time: 6pm Central