Women’s basketball: Pac-12 semifinal loss could impact NCAA seeding for CU Buffs – The Denver Post

LAS VEGAS – The Colorado women’s basketball team missed an opportunity to play for a Pac-12 title.

A 61-49 loss to Washington State here late Friday may have also cost the third-seeded Buffaloes a chance to play another game or two in Boulder. Despite the loss in the Pac-12 semifinals at Michelob Ultra Arena, the 20th-ranked Buffs (23-8) are a lock to make the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season. Who and where they will play won’t be determined until Selection Sunday, March 12.

The top 16 seeds for the NCAA Tournament will host games in the first two rounds. Prior to Friday, ESPN’s bracket guru, Charlie Creme, had the Buffs as a No. 4 seed and playing the opening weekend at the CU Events Center.

In the latest projected bracket published by Creme on Saturday, the Buffs had slipped to a No. 5 and traveling to Austin, Texas. Moving up from a No. 5 to a No. 4 was UCLA, which upset top-seeded Stanford in the other semifinal on Friday.

Washington State and UCLA will play for the Pac-12 title on Sunday at 3 p.m. MT (ESPN2).

Of course, nothing is official until Selection Sunday and CU is certainly in the conversation for a hosting spot, but a loss to the seventh-seeded Cougars hurt its chances.

CU head coach JR Payne has never given much attention to projections, however, and said that wasn’t on her mind following Friday’s loss.

“We’ll worry about that later,” she said. “We always focus on the moment. Like, every single day we want to be great and there were times today that we were great. Really proud of our fight; the third quarter was incredible toughness to come back from down 16.

“But, mostly we just want to be great when we practice, when we play, when we compete, and so that will be the goal. Rest, recover, and then get back to playing really great basketball each and every day.”

The NCAA selection committee uses NET rankings as a tool for seeding the tournament. CU dropped two spots to No. 22 on Saturday – trading spots with UCLA, which moved up to 20. Washington State (22-10) moved up one spot to No. 33.

While Washington State defeated the Buffs, the Cougars could potentially help them on Sunday by beating UCLA. Other results around the country will impact seeding over the next week, as well.

The fact that Washington State and fifth-seeded UCLA are in the final could bode well for the Buffs, too, because it puts the depth of the Pac-12 on display. And it doesn’t hurt that CU went 3-1 overall against those two teams.

“Everyone that’s associated with Pac-12 women’s basketball knows that it’s the deepest conference in the country, and every team that played, which is all 12 teams, is really good and really deep and really capable of competing deeper into March,” Payne said. “There’s eight legitimate teams in the Pac-12 that should be in the NCAA Tournament.”


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