Kentucky’s coach didn’t even want to get into the whens and wheres and whys.
When the women’s basketball selection committee announces its field for the 2016 NCAA Tournament on Monday night, Kentucky will be in it.
A couple of other things seem set: UK most likely has played itself into one of the top four seeds and into hosting the first and second rounds at Memorial Coliseum this week.
“I don’t know how we wouldn’t be with the résumé that we have,” UK’s Matthew Mitchell said after Kentucky’s eight-game win streak was snapped by South Carolina after the Southeastern Conference Tournament. “But I don’t really focus on those things. I have zero control.”
It does not appear that UK has a viable route that will get it into the region semifinals being played at Rupp Arena, but stranger things have happened within the bracketing process.
Based on the committee’s own policies and procedures, it is obligated to take the first four teams selected from a conference and place them in different regions first.
For ticket sales purposes, the Cats would be a natural fit for Rupp Arena, but for policies and procedures purposes, South Carolina as the overall No. 2 seed probably would be sent to Rupp Arena because it’s the closest to them of the four region sites (Dallas, Bridgeport, Conn., Sioux Falls, S.D.).
Several times this season, the selection committee has released the top teams in the bracket as they would appear at that moment in time. In each of them, the Gamecocks are the No. 2 overall seed behind Connecticut and in front of Notre Dame.
It’s unlikely that conference tournaments changed that order.
The Irish and South Carolina have similar résumés at 31-1 with each of their lone losses coming to UConn. The Gamecocks are fourth in the Ratings Percentage Index and ninth overall in strength of schedule.
Notre Dame is first in the RPI and second overall in strength of schedule. But South Carolina has the most top 50 wins between the two with 12 to Notre Dame’s 10.
The subject of which of the two teams should be the No. 2 overall seed behind UConn was “discussed at length again,” after the conference tournaments, NCAA selection committee chairwoman Chris Dawson told ESPN.
If somehow the committee were to decide that Notre Dame has done enough to overtake South Carolina for the No. 2 overall seed, it would put the Irish in Lexington and clear the path for UK to be there, too.
Whether or not they do that will be determined on Monday, with Mitchell again not wanting to speculate on what or when or, most importantly, where for Kentucky.
“There are smart people that will get in a room and we’ll see what happens,” he said.
According to ESPN’s latest Bracketology, Kentucky will be shipped to the Dallas Region and placed in a bracket with Baylor as the No. 1 seed and Oregon State as the No. 2 seed.
In the Lexington Region at Rupp Arena, ESPN’s Charlie Creme has South Carolina, followed by No. 2 seed Maryland and No. 3 seed Louisville.
There are always caveats in the language put out in the policies and procedures put out by the NCAA, including making “every effort to apply ‘additional considerations’ provided they do not cause a violation in the principles.”
Maybe UK could sneak into Rupp under that clause.
Or perhaps the committee’s ability to move a team one line up or down would enable it to move Notre Dame ahead of South Carolina in the No. 1 seed rankings.
All of that will be answered on Monday at 7 p.m. on ESPN when the committee makes its decisions known.
NCAA Tournament Selection Show
When: 7 p.m. (ESPN)