Washington State women excited for NCAA Tournament reveal after playing themselves into automatic bid
March 11, 2023 Updated Sat., March 11, 2023 at 9:02 p.m.
The game is about having fun, Washington State coach Kamie Ethridge reminded reporters Friday afternoon.
During a virtual news conference, Ethridge recalled how the Cougars celebrated so long after upsetting Utah in the Pac-12 Tournament that they had to be told to leave the floor.
Ethridge also recalled a newspaper headline that posed the rhetorical question: “Is anyone having more fun than the Cougars?”
Probably not, considering WSU just won its first conference tournament title .
More fun lies ahead at Sunday’s NCAA Tournament bracket reveal, which begins at 5 p.m.
Considered a bubble team just two weeks ago, the Cougars (23-10) not only earned the Pac-12’s automatic bid, they soared up the charts.
Ranked 22nd in Monday’s Associated Press poll, they’re 30th in the all-important NCAA NET rankings. That translates roughly to a No. 7 or 8 seed, but most experts predict the Cougars will move higher based on recent performance.
As of Friday, ESPN bracketologist had the Cougars as a No. 6 seed, playing in Durham, North Carolina, against the winner of a play-in game between Marquette and Kansas.
CollegeSportsMadness is more optimistic, giving WSU a No. 5 seed and pitting them against UNLV in the first round. The site: Austin, Texas, where Ethridge was an All-American at the University of Texas and where the Cougars lost a first-round game two years ago to South Florida.
At a No. 5 or 6 seed, it’s likely the Cougars will travel far to play at the home of a No. 3 or 4 seed. Choices are limited because few likely hosts are on the West Coast.
UCLA is projected as a No. 4 seed, but the Cougars and Bruins have met three times – most recently on Sunday in the Pac-12 title game – and the NCAA is reluctant to schedule rematches.
Besides Texas, the other projected No. 4 seeds are Villanova and North Carolina, the latter only a short hop from Raleigh, where the Cougars lost to Kansas State in a first-round game last year.
If Crème is right and the Zags are a No. 6 seed, they will certainly travel a great distance; potential No. 3 seeds are Ohio State, Notre Dame, Duke and LSU.
In the meantime, the Cougars are enjoying the ride.
“It’s been an amazing run, a whirlwind,” Ethridge said.
And it’s not over.
“That’s the exciting part, the reveal and what happens on Sunday,” Ethridge said.
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