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Can UCF Women’s Basketball Make the NCAA Tournament?

Knights likely will need at-large bid

Coach Abe
Coach Abe
Photo: Derek Warden

The UCF Knights come in to the final seven days of the regular season with a 16-9 record overall, and 8-5 in The American. The Knights have three conference games left: home game against Temple on Wednesday night, at Memphis on Saturday, and the regular season home finale on Monday March 2nd vs. Wichita State. Following that, we will know where the Knights will stand for The American Women’s Basketball Championship.

The Knights are currently in battle with Cincinnati and South Florida for 2nd place, which is significant as the teams that finish 2nd and 3rd in conference will be on the opposite side of bracket of UConn, which means you would not have to play the Huskies at Connecticut until the final.

UCF needs to win out and have Cincinnati lose once, which is likely as they still have to play UConn. For that matter, the Bulls also play UConn to end regular season. If this scenario plays out, the Knights would get the #2 seed in the conference tournament. But what does this all mean for the Knights’ chances of returning to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year?

On Monday’s Women’s Bracketology, ESPN’s Charlie Creme had UCF as one of his final four teams in.

Let’s break down the teams Creme had as his last four in, as well as his first four out and next four out with their strength of schedule, records vs. top 25 and top 50, as well as conference ranking. Of all the teams mention below, only four would make the NCAA Tournament:

2020 NCAA Women’s Basketball Bubble Teams

Team Record RPI SOS Rank Conference Conf Record Conf RPI Status
Team Record RPI SOS Rank Conference Conf Record Conf RPI Status
UCF 16-9 39 31 AAC 8-5 9 Last Four In
Western Kentucky 20-6 33 103 C-USA 12-3 13 Last Four In
Georgia Tech 18-10 66 70 ACC 9-8 5 Last Four In
James Madison 21-4 40 162 CAA 12-2 14 Last Four In
West Virginia 16-10 62 45 Big 12 6-9 3 First Four Out
Bradley 18-6 36 96 MVC 8-4 8 First Four Out
St. John's 16-11 63 60 Big East 9-7 6 First Four Out
Oklahoma State 14-12 46 7 Big 12 5-9 3 First Four Out
Rice 18-8 66 127 C-USA 13-2 13 Last Four Out
Ohio 17-8 48 88 MAC 10-4 10 Last Four Out
Colorado 16-11 75 51 Pac-12 5-11 1 Last Four Out
Boston College 17-10 81 78 ACC 10-6 5 Last Four Out
Status from ESPN’s Charlie Creme. Team rankings from RealTimeRPI. Conference rankings from Warren Nolan.

UCF has a better overall schedule strength than everyone except for Oklahoma State, and a better non-conference schedule strength than everyone while having a key top 25 RPI win against Central Michigan.

Something to also keep in mind: UCF was without Kay Kay Wright for the tournament in Virginia over Thanksgiving weekend, where the Knights lost very close games to currently 9th-ranked UCLA (61-56) and James Madison (46-43). The NCAA Committee says they usually take that into consideration when a star player is out.

The issue the Knights have moving forward is their quality of RPI games left. Temple is currently at #91 while Memphis is at #190 and Wichita State is #162. Not pretty.

So UCF has no choice but to win out and more than likely get all the way to American Conference Championship game where they will more than likely play UConn again and than play a competitive game once again like they have in the previous two meetings only losing by 7 at home and 13 at UConn on Saturday.

Anything short of this and UCF will more than likely be looking at settling for WNIT instead of NCAA.

So UCF will likely need to:

  • Win out in the regular season
  • Get to the AAC Championship Game
  • Hope that South Florida and possibly Cincinnati’s RPIs improve over next couple of weeks to increase the resume.

All the Knights can do now is, as the coach’s cliche saying goes, take it one game at a time.