It’s no fun being on the bubble for the NCAA tournament and having to wait more than a week to find out your fate, but Tulane women’s basketball coach Lisa Stockton put a positive spin on it this weekend.
Consider the alternative.
“As nerve-wracking as it is to be on the bubble, it’s worse to be off of it,” she said. “I’ve told the kids I want them to have fun with it. They’ve earned the opportunity to be talked about.”
The bracket will be revealed at 6 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The WNIT is available as a consolation, but the Green Wave (22-10) hopes to land its first NCAA bid since winning the Conference USA tournament in 2010. The Wave has not received an at-large bid since 2003.
Whether the streak ends is up in the air. ESPN bracketologist Charlie Crème listed Tulane as the second-to-last team in the field Saturday night, and everything broke in the Wave’s favor this weekend. Five conference top seeds that either would have or could have received at-large bids won their tournament finals.
Some of those games were agonizingly close. Western Kentucky (30-4) won three times in the Conference USA tournament by a combined eight points. Green Bay (28-4) beat Wright State in overtime in the Horizon League final. Arkansas-Little Rock (28-4) rallied past Arkansas State 78-72 in the Sun Belt final.
If the Wave deserved a bid in the eyes of the selection committee before the weekend, nothing happened to change that view.
Still, not knowing is agonizing.
“It’s almost anxiety throughout the week,” senior guard Jamie Kaplan said. “You know you have a great shot, so you’re putting all the work in, You just hope on Monday that your name gets called.”
In Tulane’s favor: a win at LSU; a victory at Arkansas-Little Rock, which won the rest of its home games; a win over fellow bubble team Miami; and a series of quality losses. Tulane fell twice to No. 1 Connecticut, three times to projected five-seed South Florida, plus Western Kentucky and Atlantic Coast Conference runner-up Florida State (29-4).
The major drawback: Tulane finished tied for fifth in the American Athletic Conference, which has no other teams under consideration besides UConn and South Florida.
Stockton said she had informed the selection committee the teams seeded third through fifth in the AAC tournament — Tulsa, Temple and East Carolina — played each other only once, while Tulane faced the other top five teams in the league at least twice, skewing the standings.
Other than that, she knows the decision is out of her control. The Wave practiced with that uncertainty Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before resting over the weekend.
“They (the committee) looks at what they want to look at,” Stockton said. “Hopefully they look at things we try to point out.”