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GU women ready to travel for NCAAs

Seed less important than location in tournament

Don’t count Kelly Graves among those trying to predict where the selection committee will place his No. 18 Gonzaga women’s basketball team on “Selection Monday.”

The West Coast Conference champion Bulldogs (27-4) earned the automatic bid last Tuesday when they beat Brigham Young 71-57 in the conference tournament final in Las Vegas. The team will gather at 4 p.m. Monday to learn where it will play in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament that starts Saturday.

ESPN’s Charlie Creme predicts that Gonzaga will be a No. 6 seed playing No. 11 seed USC in Seattle. While Graves said he would love to play in Seattle, the coach said he doesn’t place much stock in Creme’s so-called “bracketology.”

“I’ve seen it,” Graves said of the ESPN bracket predictions. Creme “has no clue. He’s not Joe Lunardi. (Creme is) not nearly as accurate. Where he puts teams, there just is no rhyme or reason. It’s not even worth the effort to quote him or that site.”

Graves explained that in NCAA women’s basketball teams aren’t placed solely based on their body of work, as they are for men’s teams. For instance, Gonzaga was a host site in 2011 and 2012.

“If you are in the field and you are a host site, you have to play at home,” he said. “The last couple of years … we easily could have been eight or nine seeds. But I knew we were going to be an 11 seed.”

Since all four No. 1 seeds were hosting, it eliminated Gonzaga from a potential No. 8 or No. 9 seed. Those teams play for a shot at a No. 1 seed in the second round.

And since three of the four No. 2 seeds were also hosting, that eliminated Gonzaga from a potential No. 7 or No. 10 seed, which also play for a shot at the No. 2 seed in the second round.

“They weren’t going to move us up to a No. 6 seed. The next-best thing was 11 for two straight years,” he said. “It’s built in, that’s part of the deal” with host sites.

Graves said the rigidity of the system, while beneficial to the host team, makes the selection of women’s teams more difficult.

“I think the committee has a tough job. They do the best they can,” he said. “But we could be anywhere.”