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Gonzaga Women's Basketball

Low NET ranking may hurt Gonzaga women’s NCAA Tournament seeding on Selection Sunday

The Gonzaga Bulldogs wait to face the Portland Pilots during the first half of a WCC tournament championship basketball game on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

At first glance, the possibilities appear literally all over the map for the Gonzaga women as they await Selection Sunday.

With their loss to Portland in the West Coast Conference Tournament title game, however, the Zags appear slotted into either a No. 8, 9 or 10 seed, with a likely destination of South Carolina, Iowa, Salt Lake City or the Bay Area.

Actually, that is all over the map, but regardless of location, the Zags will need to overachieve to reach the Sweet 16.

Only five teams (South Carolina, LSU, UNLV, Indiana, Florida Gulf Coast) have fewer losses than the 28-4 Zags, but they’re hurt by a low strength of schedule and the loss to the Pilots.

As of Friday, the Zags were ranked 16th in The Associated Press poll but only 44th in the NCAA NET ranking.

That corresponds to a No. 11 seed, but most experts push them higher because of their record and the fact that Gonzaga missed several key players for the bulk of the season.

Will the NCAA take that into account? And how much credit will they get for early-season wins over Louisville and Tennessee (both of which are projected as No. 5 seeds)?

Also on Friday, the GU athletic department confirmed that starting point guard Kaylynne Truong has been cleared after an X-ray showed no injuries after she took a hard fall late in the WCC title game. That means a healthy team – another consideration for the selection committee.

“And we still think we’re a pretty good team,” GU head coach Lisa Fortier said Tuesday following GU’s 64-60 setback against the Pilots.

Not long ago, the Zags had some realistic hope of rising to a No. 4 seed and hosting first- and second-round games. That disappeared with a late-season loss to Santa Clara; since then, they’ve been on the No. 7 or 8 line of most brackets.

The loss to the Pilots appears to put them squarely at No. 8 or 9. That would mean a second consecutive matchup with a No. 1 seed, a daunting prospect if it’s defending NCAA champ South Carolina.

That’s where ESPN’s Charlie Crème has the Zags headed – as a No. 9 seed taking on Baylor in Columbia, South Carolina.

That’s not only a tough first game but a pricey one to attend. As of Saturday, round-trip airfare from Spokane to Columbia was about $950.

The bracket from also has the Zags as a No. 9 seed facing Baylor but playing at top seed Stanford. GU and Stanford met earlier this season, however, which might dissuade the NCAA from sending the Zags there.

Other projected No. 1 seeds are Indiana and Virginia Tech.

The possibilities widen if GU drops to a No. 10 seed, though Utah is listed as a No. 2 seed and easily reachable for fans. The other No. 2 seeds are UConn, Iowa and Maryland. Iowa would be the next closest geographically.

A worst-case scenario would be if the NCAA adheres strictly to NET and pushes the Zags into a play-in game as a No. 11 seed at the home of a No. 3 seed. That could be Ohio State, Notre Dame, Duke or LSU.