Teams around the country are gaining confidence as they win and advance through their women’s basketball conference tournaments, some even clinching automatic bids to the 2019 NCAA tournament.
But the question fans around the country will ask is, will that momentum carry them far in the NCAA tournament? Will it sustain success and push a team past the opening weekend and toward a regional final?
Let’s take a look at last year’s class of conference tournament champions and see how they performed …
Sixteen of the past 25 national champions also won their conference tournaments, but that 16th champ didn’t cut down the nets last year.
In fact, 22 of the 32 teams that earned automatic bids last season failed to even win a single game in the NCAA tournament. Another four only made it one round further. That’s 81.25 percent of the teams that won their conference tournament gone in the first weekend.
Two teams, Central Michigan (11-seed) and Baylor (2-seed), did reach their region’s semifinals. Another two, Oregon (2-seed) and South Carolina (2-seed), made it to the regional finals. And two more, UConn (1-seed) and Louisville (1-seed), reached the Final Four. But that’s as far as any conference champion went. And the only conference champions who made it out of the first weekend, outside of CMU, were Top-2 seeds.
Notre Dame, last year’s national champ, was ACC tournament runner-up after losing to Louisville in the conference title game.
Twenty-two of 32 conference tournament champions from 2018 were handed double-digit seeds. It’s a tall order to pull off that kind of upset. So when you’re filling out your bracket after the next field of 64 is announced on Monday, pay more attention to a team’s body of work than how it performed in its conference tournament. Pay more attention to a team’s seed and the road forward it has to navigate.
No team seeded fourth or lower has ever won an NCAA tournament in women’s basketball.