Utah would join South Carolina, Indiana and Stanford as No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament if it began now.
The NCAA women’s basketball selection committee did its second and final reveal Thursday of the teams in line for the top 16 seeds before selection Sunday. South Carolina, Indiana and Stanford were also listed as top seeds in the earlier reveal.
”That was the easiest part of the day. I am really looking forward to seeing those teams play towards the end of the season,” selection committee chair Lisa Peterson said in a phone interview. ”Indiana and Iowa, Stanford and Utah play this weekend.”
None of Thursday night’s games were factored in, including No. 3 Stanford’s double-overtime win over No. 21 Colorado. This is the final weekend of the regular season for most major conferences.
The Utes – ranked eighth in the AP Top 25 – moved up to the one-line, replacing UConn, which was beaten by St. John’s on Tuesday night. Utah faces Stanford on Saturday to close out its regular season. The Huskies fell to a No. 2 seed, seventh overall.
Peterson said the biggest debate was about who the fourth No. 1 should be – Utah or LSU.
”That was probably the biggest topic of conversation,” she said. ”You have more information when you’re looking at these teams. One thing that stuck out was the number of top 25 and 50 wins when you compare LSU to Utah. It was a difficult choice for sure. One thing we couldn’t get past was (LSU’s) strength of the schedule.”
The top 16 seeds will host first- and second-round games with the regional rounds being played at two neutral sites for the first time instead of the traditional four. Seattle will host half of the Sweet 16 and Greenville, South Carolina, will host the other eight teams.
South Carolina and Indiana were projected as the top seeds in the Greenville Regional with Stanford and Utah in Seattle. The unbeaten Gamecocks were the overall No. 1 seed.
Joining the Gamecocks in their projected bracket were No. 2 Virginia Tech, No. 3 Iowa and No. 4 Michigan. The Hoosiers would have No. 2 UConn, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Arizona.
The other top teams in Stanford’s region were No. 2 Maryland, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Villanova. Utah would be joined by LSU, Ohio State and Texas.
Arizona was the only team not included in the original reveal that entered the second one. The Wildcats replaced North Carolina.
Teams just outside the top 16 included the Tar Heels, Tennessee, Colorado, Oklahoma and UCLA.
The Big Ten had five teams in the top 16 while the Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-12 each had three. The Southeastern Conference and Big East had two and the Big 12 had one.
The Final Four will be played in Dallas on March 31 and the NCAA championship game is two days later. Dallas is also hosting the Division II and III championship games on April 1.
Selection Sunday is March 12.
The NCAA has been doing in-season reveals for women’s basketball since 2015 to give teams an early idea of where they could end up in the bracket.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25