The Weekly Roundup: March 8

Could Ole Miss’ impressive week shake up the field of 64?

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The greatest month in basketball is now in full swing, and the competition over the last week definitely shows it. There are only seven days until Selection Monday, and while a handful of teams can feel confident about their place in the NCAA tournament, only five teams have officially punched their ticket to the Big Dance: Belmont (Ohio Valley), NC State (ACC), Stanford (Pac-12), South Carolina (SEC), and Mercer (Southern).

Sixteen more conference tournaments begin this week, with 26 more automatic bids on the line and a final chance for some bubble teams to make a case for the field of 64. Check out last week’s Roundup for the schedule of all D-I conference tournaments

The Best Upset

Butler over No. 25 DePaul (86-81): Before Butler lost to Providence in the first round of the Big East tournament, they pulled one of the biggest upsets of the season. The Bulldogs, who are near the bottom of Her Hoop Stats’ ratings for all D-I women’s basketball teams — 323 out of 343 — beat ranked DePaul, despite two Blue Demons scoring 20 points.

As Calvin Wetzel explained with this remarkable stat — Butler was not supposed to win this game.

Before the Bulldogs pulled the big upset over the Blue Demons, Butler had only won against Georgetown and Xavier — the two other teams at the bottom of the Big East. The Bulldogs showed out against the Blue Demons with a season-high 17 assists and their most efficient shooting night of the season by a wide margin — the team shot 54% from the field, including 45.5% from deep and 90.9% from the free-throw line, compared to 36.1% overall, 31.7% from three, and 72.6% from the charity stripe.

Jacqueline’s Top 25

  1. UConn (23-1)

  2. Stanford (25-2)

  3. NC State (20-2)

  4. South Carolina (22-4)

  5. Texas A&M (23-2)

  6. Louisville (23-3)

  7. Baylor (21-2)

  8. Maryland (21-2)

  9. UCLA (16-5)

  10. Indiana (18-4)

  11. Arizona (15-4)

  12. Georgia (18-5)

  13. Michigan (14-4)

  14. Tennessee (16-7)

  15. South Florida (15-3)

  16. Rutgers (14-3)

  17. Arkansas (19-8)

  18. Kentucky (17-8)

  19. Gonzaga (21-3)

  20. Oregon (13-8)

  21. West Virginia (19-4)

  22. Missouri State (20-2)

  23. Ohio State (13-7)

  24. Florida Gulf Coast (23-2)

  25. Oregon State (10-7)

By The Numbers

Should Ole Miss be an NCAA tournament team? Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin obviously thinks so, and she made a persuasive case after her team lost 77-72 to Tennessee one night after beating heavily-favored Arkansas.

“If we're not an NCAA Tournament team, who is?" McPhee-McCuin said postgame, per the Clarion-Ledger. "With our COVID issues at the beginning of conference play, snowstorm issues and then continuously proving ourselves by beating Quadrant 1 teams? And then going on the road to Tennessee and losing by one and then tonight by five when our star player hurts her back at the beginning of the fourth quarter? Absolutely we're an NCAA Tournament team.”

Anyone who’s watched the Rebels play in the last week would probably agree, too. The Rebels finished the regular season by completing the sweep of their season series with Kentucky, upset an Arkansas team some expected to be serious SEC Tournament contenders in their first-round game, and had a chance to take down Tennessee in a quarterfinal matchup that came down to the final minute. 

According to ESPN’s Charlie Creme as of Monday morning, Ole Miss is on the bubble as a “first four out” team, and teams like DePaul and Mississippi State — who have been in tourney consideration all season, but have slid lately — are on the bubble as the “last four in.” 

Ole Miss actually has three more wins against teams in the top 50 of the Her Hoop Stats Ratings than their in-state rival Bulldogs, while Mississippi State has one more win against teams in the top 100 of our ratings. 

Ole Miss edges out Mississippi State with a NET rating of 42, compared to the Bulldogs’ 45, while the Bulldogs beat the Rebels 60-56 in their only game this season. 

The Rebels can also argue they deserve a bid more than the Blue Demons, who have been nationally ranked all season but have lost four of their last five games. And DePaul’s best win comes against Kentucky — a team Ole Miss has beaten twice. 

Ole Miss has quality wins against tough SEC opponents, but have also lost to teams in the bottom half of the standings, including LSU, Missouri, and Florida. But being in the bottom half of a very deep SEC doesn’t mean you’re not a quality team — something that has become especially clear in the conference tournament.

Regardless of what postseason tournament the Rebels receive an invite to this year, Coach Yo has transformed a team that went winless in SEC play last season to a team competing with the best teams in the conference and making a serious case for an NCAA tournament bid. 

What We’re Working On

Heaven Hill previewed all 11 teams ahead of the Big East tournament. Make sure to review his comprehensive guide before UConn takes on Marquette at 8 p.m. ET on FS1 tonight!

Extending on Calvin Wetzel’s piece about Wins Above Bubble from mid-February, Calvin and Aaron Barzilai debated the best method and factors to consider when building an NCAA tournament bracket. 

Calvin and Adam Vachon analyzed how the pandemic and limited, if any, attendance has affected home-court advantage in college basketball this season.  

Ahead of the Pac-12 tournament, Kim Doss reviewed the league contenders and the teams who had the potential to make a statement.

Calvin joined Megan Gauer on Unplugged early last week to preview the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, and Big East tournaments, chat updates on bracketology, and more. 

Christy Winters-Scott and Gabe Ibrahim returned on another episode of Courtside to talk all things March Madness. Christy reflects back on her Final Four run as a player for Maryland in 1989, they break down some players who could make a big name for themselves during the Big Dance, and have a special conversation with Georgetown recruit Bri Scott. 

Other Recommended Reading

For The New York Times, Howard Megdal wrote about the common legendary thread between rising WNBA stars like Betnijah Laney and Erica Wheeler — Naismith Hall of Famer and Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer. 

For The Washington Post, Candace Buckner wrote about the WNBA’s new cause — educating themselves and fans on vaccine safety. 

For The Athletic, Josh Kendall spoke with Dawn Staley about why she won’t stay silent about social justice issues online or in the media, despite some fans and donors disagreeing with her. 

For Yahoo Sports, Henry Bushnell profiled Lindsay Kagawa Colas, the activist-agent representing some of the biggest WNBA players, who was behind some of the most inspiring stories in the league. 

For The Next, Dorothy Gentry wrote about the Texas A&M Aggies rise in college basketball this year after clinching the program’s first-ever SEC regular-season title. 

For the Hartford Courant, Alexa Philippou put together a guide to Paige Bueckers’ standout freshman season for the No. 1 Huskies. 

For Courtside, Lyndsey D’Arcangelo went one-on-one with Rebecca Lobo about free agency, her broadcasting career, the most memorable WNBA games she’s played in, and more. 

For Yahoo Sports, Cassandra Negley wrote about Jocelyn Willougby’s motivation behind creating an anti-racism book club. 

Before You Go

Congratulations to the California Baptist Lancers, who finished their regular season with a 22-0 record. The Lancers are the first team to go undefeated in the regular season since Mississippi State and UConn during the 2017-2018 season, and their 25-game winning streak is the best in Division I. What’s even more impressive is that California Baptist is only in their third year competing in D-I. 

Part of the team’s success has come from their ability to share the ball: 74.3% of the Lancers field goals come from assists — the second-best mark in the country — and the team’s 20.7 assists per game is the fourth in the nation. Senior Ane Olaeta leads D-I with 7.9 assists per game. 

Unfortunately, the NCAA transition phase lasts four years, so the Lancers won’t be eligible for the NCAA tournament or count in official stats until the 2022-2023 season. California Baptist’s postseason will continue after the WAC tournament with a chance to win the WNIT as the tournament has announced that it will extend an invite to the Lancers. 

Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!

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