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Lack of marquee video games to make NCAA tourney choice tougher

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Geno Auriemma is used to having marquee non-conference matchups to check his UConn Huskies in the course of the common season.

That hasn’t occurred this yr because the Huskies have not performed a crew exterior the Large East who’s ranked due to the coronavirus pandemic. UConn had video games scheduled early on in opposition to No. 2 Louisville and then-No. 6 Mississippi State, however these have been worn out when the Huskies have been on pause due to the virus. 

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A recreation in opposition to Baylor was canned earlier this month when Girl Bears coach Kim Mulkey examined constructive for the coronavirus. UConn has two extra possibilities to play non-conference ranked groups with Tennessee and South Carolina on the schedule.

The Huskies aren’t alone with video games getting worn out as 10 of the present members of the AP ladies’s basketball ballot have not performed a non-conference ranked opponent but this season, together with the 5 Pac-12 groups who’re within the Prime 25.

5 extra have solely performed one ranked opponent who is not of their convention. The one non-conference matchup between high 10 groups this season was an early-season contest between then-No. 1 South Carolina and eight-ranked N.C. State. The Wolfpack pulled off the upset. Conversely on the boys’s aspect a majority of the present Prime 25 have performed at the very least one ranked non-conference opponent.

The shortage of marquee non-conference matchups may trigger the NCAA ladies’s basketball choice committee some agita when attempting to determine who deserves to be within the NCAA Match and the place groups needs to be seeded.

“It’s not going to be apples to apples this yr,” choice committee chairwoman Nina King mentioned in a telephone interview with the AP. “It’s definitely a problem. … The factor about choosing groups is it isn’t one piece of standards we take a look at. It’s quite a lot of various things. One isn’t extra weighed than one other. We’ll have energetic discussions.”

Longtime ESPN and CBS analyst Deb Antonelli was unhappy for the game that so many nice video games have been canceled or postponed.

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“It is disappointing we will not showcase the sport on the highest stage as a result of our recreation has prospered and grown in so some ways,” she mentioned. “The so-called eye take a look at is admittedly going to place further strain on the committee as a result of whether or not you just like the numbers or metrics, having the entire match in San Antonio removes geography, now they cannot conceal behind the geography.”

King admitted it could be tougher to pick 64 groups this yr with much less knowledge from non-conference matchups, however she has religion the committee will get it accomplished. 

“We could have a real S-curve this yr, however I actually have not thought that far forward but” she mentioned. “I am targeted as my committee colleagues are on watching groups and seeing how we are going to do alternatives this yr.

Auriemma joked that with the cancellations of a number of marquee non-conference matchups nationwide the committee might need to have to contemplate groups’ reputations much more than traditional when making a bracket.

“You realize the film ‘Casablanca’ … the place they go, ‘Spherical up the standard suspects?’” Auriemma mentioned. “I believe that’s what’s gonna occur. When all of it breaks down, simply spherical up the standard suspects.”

With all of the video games which have been postponed or cancelled up to now there may be some concern that groups could not even attain the 13-game minimal. UConn has performed solely seven video games and its subsequent two have been postponed.

Groups cannot begin submitting waivers till Feb. 26 to the NCAA petitioning to be allowed to play within the match if they do not meet the minimal customary. After the deadline, waivers would solely be thought-about if a convention match was canceled and that will have been a crew’s 13th recreation. Groups can also solely rely certainly one of their match video games in the direction of the 13.

“It is unprecedented and there isn’t any handbook for this one both. We’ll work via,” King mentioned. “COVID is COVID and we don’t need to penalize a crew for the uncontrollable.”

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