Sports

Girls’s Bracketology: Kentucky jumps to No. 2 seed in three-bracket projection

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Coaches, players and fans must be prepared for constant change in the 2020-21 women’s college basketball season. Games will be canceled, moved and rescheduled. It’s unlikely that every team will play a full complement of games, which will alter conference races and the NCAA tournament evaluation process.

That could also mean changes to the 2021 NCAA tournament format. Since no one knows exactly what the season will look like come Selection Monday, anything is on the table. With that in mind, this edition of Bracketology projects not only a 64-team field, but also condensed 48- and 16-team versions, as determined by these rules.

Bracket Watch

This week’s field — for games through Monday — includes three bid stealers: Liberty (Atlantic Sun), Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley) and South Dakota (Summit). Those three currently lead their conferences, thus earning the automatic bid. But with Florida Gulf Coast, Missouri State and South Dakota State comfortably on the right side of the at-large bubble, the mid-majors gain some extra bids — which means teams like Villanova and Virginia Tech are pushed out.

On the Bubble

First Four Out

Last Four In

Next Four Out

64-Team Bracket

Moved Up

Moved Down

New Team to Bracket

Automatic Qualifier

Region 1

Region 4

Region 2

Region 3

Bracket Watch

Condensing the field puts another twist on the argument over which conference is the best. The SEC had eight teams in the 64-team field and all eight remain in the smaller 48-team bracket, giving the SEC a solid claim as the league with the best combination of quality and quantity. The ACC, which had seven in the 64-team projection, lost two as we shrink the field, and the Big Ten and Pac-12 lost one each.

On the Bubble

Last Four In (at-large)

Last Four In (auto qualifiers)

First Four Out (at-large)

First Four Out (auto qualifiers)

48-Team Bracket

Moved Up

Moved Down

New Team to Bracket

Automatic Qualifier

Region 1

Region 4

Region 2

Region 3

Bracket Watch

No conference has more than four teams in the top 16, which means this field is the true 16 best teams on the board. Arkansas has fallen out and Texas — one of the biggest movers in the field — has vaulted in. In spite of the Razorbacks’ drop, two SEC teams have elevated, with Kentucky and Texas A&M each reaching No. 2 seed status.

On the Bubble

First Four Out

Last Four In

Next Four Out

16-Team Bracket

Moved Up

Moved Down

New Team to Bracket

Region 1

Region 4

Region 2

Region 3

Photo illo by ESPN Illustration, additional photos courtesy of Getty Images, Associated Press, Imagn, Icon Sportswire, EPA/Shutterstock

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Melinda Martin