The question GW women’s basketball fans should be asking should not be if, but rather who and when. The Colonials compiled a 22-8 record and after reaching the Atlantic 10 Tournament final, they look like a lock for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.
However, they must wait until Sunday to find out their seeding, opponent and location. The NCAA decided to switch to the pod system this year, which is already in place on the men’s side. The old system placed four teams at one of 16 locations. Now eight teams will play at eight locations with two different bracket sides playing in one arena.
In the women’s tournament, schools are still allowed to play on their home floor, whereas in the men’s tournament they cannot.
“It’s not perfect but the pod system is a step in the right direction,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said.
The Colonials are currently ranked No. 39 in the RPI ratings (Collegerpi.com) and won have nine of their last 10 games. GW has won four games over teams in the Top 50 of RPI rankings, including three victories over Richmond. The Colonials also defeated Atlantic Coast Conference powerhouse North Carolina State, which is now ranked No. 24 (ESPN/USA Today). GW received votes in the Associated Press (12 votes) and ESPN/USA Today (11 votes) polls.
The latest projections in various publications have the Colonials as an eight or nine seed. Last year, the No. 8 Colonials faced No. 9 DePaul in their first round game in Tallahassee and lost in a blowout.
“Everything is speculation right now,” McKeown said. “We are at best right now an eight or nine seed. We could also be a 10 or 11 seed, somewhere in that range. The new pod system has changed everything.”
“I’d rather be in the 7-10 game, the 8-9 game is not a fun game to be in,” McKeown added.
This year, first round games will take place on Mar. 19 and 20 with second round games on Mar. 21 and 22.
The Mar. 19 sites are Dallas, Minneapolis, Fresno, Calif., and Seattle, all a plane ride away from Washington. The Mar. 20 sites are closer to the District: Storrs, Conn., Knoxville, Tenn., Chapel Hill, N.C., and College Park, Md.
Landing in Maryland at the Comcast Center could give GW a home court advantage.
“It would be great for the fans and we would not have to travel that far,” McKeown said.
The road has not been easy for the young squad. They are just 7-6 on the road, including 2-3 during the non-conference season.
“It’s March now – we are a much different team, we are battle tested,” McKeown said.
The Atlantic 10, which usually gets two or three teams into the tournament, may get four bids for the first time in conference history. Richmond went 23-7 and has an RPI of 34. Xavier, which went 20-9, has an outside shot of making the tournament. Temple sealed their bid by defeating GW 70-62 in the A-10 championship game last Monday.