The Cougar women's basketball team's elimination from the Pac-12 Tournament following the loss to Oregon State in the semi-finals made it so that the team's NCAA Tournament chances are slim. Those slim NCAA chances mean WSU is probably headed for the 64-team field WNIT, which it appears to be a prime candidate for.
Washington State's run in the conference tournament helped improve its tournament resume. In the conference tournament, the Cougs added a win against a top 25 opponent, which means WSU won four of its nine games against top 25 teams. The Cougs also improved their RPI from 62 prior to the tournament to 57 now. That number is a massive improvement from the 230 RPI the team finished last season with, but it still may not be good enough. A RPI of 57 puts WSU right on the outside edge of NCAA tournament eligibility.
The wins against top 25 teams are good for a bubble team to have on its resume, but a home loss to Utah (183 RPI) and a road loss to Oregon (120 RPI) don't help matters.
No matter what tournament Washington State ends up in, the Cougs will know their postseason fate soon. Here is a closer look at the selection process for both the women's NCAA tournament and the women's NIT.
Selection: Monday, March 17th at 4 p.m. on ESPN and 5 p.m. PDT on ESPNU
If the Cougs are able to sneak into the NCAA tournament field, and that's a big if, it would be the program's first appearance in the Big Dance since 1991 - that team lost in the first round to Northwestern, 82-62. That streak looks like it will continue for at least another season. While WSU is near the bubble, they are likely still a couple of wins shy of receiving an at-large bid. A win against Oregon State in the conference tournament would have made this conversation more interesting.
ESPN's Charlie Creme has projected that there will be five Pac-12 teams in the NCAA Tournament, and WSU isn't one of them. In fact, the Cougs aren't even listed as one of the first eight teams out. Now it should be pointed out that bracketology is an inexact science...but Creme's projection should give you an idea of how slim WSU's chances are.
Selection: Monday, March 17 at roughly 9 p.m. PT
The women's NIT was founded in 1998 as a chance to expand the post season for women's basketball teams across the country. Initially a 16-team field, the tournament has expanded to include 64 teams over the course of the tournaments life time. All games in the tournament are located on the home floor of the match-ups highest seed, this includes the championship game.
All Division I conferences are guaranteed to send one team into the WNIT field, that's 32 teams. There are another 32 teams that earn at large bids for the tournament; and it is highly likely that the Cougs will be one of those squads. The Cougs probably have earned a high seed in the tournament with their strong resume, and that means that Washington State is likely to host one or more games at Beasley Coliseum.
According to the WNIT website, seven of the 32 automatic bids have already been claimed: Belmont (Ohio Valley), Furman (Southern), High Point (Big South), Iona (Metro Atlantic), Navy (Patriot), Princeton (Ivy), and Stony Brook (American East).
This would be WSU's first time in the women's NIT.