Women’s basketball bracketology: What to do with the teams falling fast?

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Not every resume is enhanced in January.

If conference play is good for one thing, it’s sending teams back down to Earth in a hurry. You can skate by in November and December with a weak or even so-so non-conference schedule, but when you have to suddenly go on the road and face teams as good as you, things change in a hurry.

Exhibit A: Tennessee

The Vols won at Texas and Oklahoma State in the non-conference and beat a solid Belmont at home. It was the base of a solid resume to go with the gauntlet of the SEC. But today, Tennessee is 1-5 in conference and no one would blame you for taking the Vols out of your bracket entirely. Only, resume-wise, Tennessee is still on decent footing. It has three Group 1 wins and a winning record both on the road and against the RPI top 100. That’s probably not enough to keep Tennessee in the field without a serious turnaround, but for now, it is hanging on to a spot.

Exhibit B: Minnesota

The Gophers have a similar record to Tennessee but a resume that is far less forgiving. With a 12-0 start and a great win over Syracuse, we had to put Minnesota in the field. But then it all fell apart. Minnesota is 1-5 in its last six, with two sub-150 losses, and has a sub-100 RPI. That win over the Orange goes a long way, but it can’t be the only argument you have for inclusion in the field. Minnesota needs to string together some impressive wins if it even wants to sniff the at-large conversation.

Thankfully, every week the picture will get a little clearer. For now, here’s where we stand…