Florida State (23-7, 13-3 ACC) is ranked #17 by the AP, #10 by the coaches, #15 in the RPI and #10 by Jeff Sagarin. However, the most important ranking of all has not yet been announced. That ranking will be awarded by the NCAA Women's Basketball Selection Committee. The Noles are on the bubble. We all know that they will be in the tournament but FSU is on the bubble for a top four seed and the important home games in the first and second rounds that come with the seeding.
FSU will be watching for a few things. First, FSU wants to get that precious top four seed to play at home. Secondly, the Noles would like the seed to be as high as possible to avoid playing a #1 seed for as long as possible. Finally, FSU would like to avoid being placed in the same region as Connecticut.
Notre Dame is the favorite to be the overall #2 seed (UConn will certainly be #1) and FSU beat them by eight points in the second half when they played on February 22. This is evidence that the Noles can play with anyone. However, UConn is a different beast. They beat FSU by 24 points in December and their closest game all year was a 10 point win over the Irish. FSU wants to get to the Final Four and the best way to do that is to avoid the Huskies.
After DePaul lost at home in the Big East Tournament semifinals ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme moved the Seminoles back into a top four seed. That's the good news. The bad news is that he has FSU in Connecticut's region. We will see on Monday if the committee agrees with Creme.
In the NCAA Women's Basketball Selection Committee meeting room the following banner is affixed to the wall.
While much of the criteria shown above obviously should be considered when ranking teams (bad losses, overall record, etc) there are a few priorities shown above that are troublesome or puzzling. RPI is explicitly listed above as a criteria used in team selection; presumably they would use it for seeding as well. This is troubling because RPI is a crude and flawed measure. RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) is calculated as follows: RPI = (WP * 0.25) + (OWP * 0.50) + (OOWP * 0.25) where WP is Winning Percentage, OWP is Opponents' Winning Percentage and OOWP is Opponents' Opponents' Winning Percentage. There are several advanced (and superior) metrics that the committee should be using in lieu of the RPI. It was first introduced way back in 1981 (the women first used it in 1984). It is beyond me why the committee still uses such an outdated measure.
Strength of conference is another criteria mentioned that is troubling - even though it probably favors FSU. Teams should be evaluated individually. Of course it matters what conference teams play in but that should show up in other places like strength of schedule. Since the committee already explicitly considers relative strength of schedule it's puzzling that they also use this strength of conference criteria.
Some of the criteria are just baffling. I have no idea what "winnability" or "ability to elevate" means. If you have ideas let me know in the comments.
We also don't know how the various criteria will be weighted by the committee. In other words we don't know which criteria if any are most important. I certainly hope that some of the criteria is more heavily weighted than others because I would hate for an ambiguous measure like "winnability" to be as important as a team's overall record.
According to Chris Dawson who is the Chair of the NCAA D-1 Women's Basketball Committee, there are three main steps that the committee will follow when constructing the bracket. The first step is to put the teams in the 64 team field. This basically means selecting who the 32 at-large teams will be because 32 teams are automatic qualifiers. The second step is seeding. The committee seeds the teams by ranking them 1-64 and then assigning them a place on the "S-curve". The third step is where the committee actually constructs the bracket and assigns teams to regions and determines matchups.
The Women's Selection Show is on Monday, March 14 at 7pm on ESPN. FSU will be hosting a watch party. Hopefully the Noles will have plenty to celebrate.