Women’s basketball bracketology: How high can DePaul climb?

DePaul keeps winning. How much does it matter?

We’ve hit the point in the year where it becomes difficult to judge certain teams. This is more of a problem in the women’s game than in the men’s because women’s basketball has more quality teams from so-called mid-major conferences — see FGCU, South Dakota, Princeton, half the Missouri Valley, etc. As those teams beat up on inferior competition, racking up wins in the process, bracketologists have to decide how much to value those victories, particularly when a power conference team above them drops a game.

Despite the Big East being far from a mid-major, the DePaul Blue Demons present a similar challenge. DePaul is, rightfully, high up on the seed list and the Big East simply doesn’t have the depth of the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, and others. The Blue Demons have just two losses — to Oregon State and UConn, who are both bona fide Final Four contenders. Nothing to sneeze at. Their win at Northwestern looks fantastic now and to make matters even better, they haven’t lost since Dec. 20. That’s all combined to put DePaul on the 3 line this week.

Has DePaul earned it? Debatable. The Blue Demons are 4-2 against Quad 1 teams. 5-0 vs. Quad 2. They have recent wins over Marquette, Creighton and St. John’s, all in the field this week, and have beaten both Butler and Seton Hall, who are on the tournament radar. It’s not as sexy as Oregon beating Stanford and sweeping Oregon State. Not by a long shot. But there’s something to be said for consistently beating quality (if not great) teams. DePaul has done that and that’s why it is where it is.  The relative weakness of the Big East compared to the other major conferences may be why the Blue Demons’ realistic ceiling is probably around where they are now. It’s still not a bad position to be in; they’re in the driver’s seat to host the first two rounds.

There wasn’t a ton of movement elsewhere in the bracket this week. St. John’s and Marquette jumped in while Minnesota and Oklahoma fell out. The Sooners are now .500 and will not be considered for a bid until their record improves. I guess that’s the danger of playing the second-toughest schedule in the country.

A quick note on the Ivy League: Technically, Yale is a half-game ahead of Princeton in the standings, meaning by traditional bracketology rules (a thing that doesn’t exist), the Bulldogs should be the assumed autobid. Let’s be honest: it’s a half a game, brought about only because the Tigers haven’t played as many, and putting two Ivy League teams in the field right now, bumping out another at-large, is simply unrealistic at the moment. So Princeton stays with the projected autobid. For now.

Here’s the full bracket:

Projected bracket, January 29

Bracket Math:

Bids by conference:

Big Ten: 9
ACC: 7
SEC: 7
Pac-12: 6
Big East: 4
Big 12: 4
MVC: 3

Procedural Bumps:

NONE!

Last Four In:

Marquette
Michigan
Arkansas
St. John’s

First Four Out:

Northern Iowa
Seton Hall
Old Dominion
Minnesota

Next Four Out:

Miami
Western Kentucky
Oklahoma State
Iowa State

Next update: Next week

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