MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The NCAA women’s basketball tournament selection committee has all but shut the door on West Virginia.
The committee released a list of eight teams that are being considered for the final four at-large spots in the tournament field Sunday. The Mountaineers were not on the list.
The schools on the list being marketed as “the debatable eight” are: Arkansas, Auburn, Indiana, Ohio, Princeton, Tennessee, TCU and UCF. Princeton clinched the Ivy League title and an automatic berth after the list was first revealed by ESPN.
Unless West Virginia is considered safely in the tournament rather than on the bubble, it will miss out on the NCAA field for the second straight year. WVU made the tourney every season from 2010-17.
The Mountaineers (20-10) went 11-7 in the Big 12, which was the third-best conference in the nation this year according to the Ratings Percentage Index. However, WVU is saddled with an individual RPI of 80 due to a weak non-conference schedule.
Of the teams officially listed in consideration for the final at-large spots, Arkansas has the lowest RPI at 67 despite only going 6-10 in the SEC and 2-10 against teams in Quadrant 1.
West Virginia finished ahead of TCU in the conference standings. The Horned Frogs went 10-8 in league play, but have a superior RPI of 58. The Mountaineers and Frogs split their regular-season games. WVU has a slightly better record against teams in Quadrant 1, going 3-8 compared to TCU’s 2-8 mark.
Mountaineers coach Mike Carey repeatedly argued his team’s case as the season winded down, particularly following their 72-59 loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals.
“We won 11 games in the Big 12. We should be in the NCAA,” Carey said at the time. “Watch, on the men’s side there will be teams with losing records in the Big 12 that get into the NCAA. How they do it and we don’t get it done, I have no idea.”
True to Carey’s prophecy, Oklahoma made the men’s tournament as a No. 9 seed despite going 7-11 in the Big 12. A key difference? The Sooners had the No. 16 strength of schedule in the country compared to No. 88 for the West Virginia women.
The women’s selection show airs Monday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN. If West Virginia is left out, the Mountaineers are expected to accept an invitation to the WNIT.