Jury split on TCU women’s NCAA Tournament chances

TCU coach Raegan Pebley, right, led the Horned Frogs to a tie for third place in the Big 12.
TCU coach Raegan Pebley, right, led the Horned Frogs to a tie for third place in the Big 12. Star-Telegram

How a team finishes its season is certainly taken into account by the NCAA women’s basketball tournament selection committee.

So who would have a better opinion on TCU’s chances to make the field of 64 than Texas coach Karen Aston, whose team defeated the Horned Frogs twice, closing out their regular season with a 79-45 victory in Austin and ending TCU’s conference tournament run 67-61 last week in Dallas.

Despite those losses by the Horned Frogs, Aston believes TCU — the Big 12 tournament’s third seed by way of round-robin tiebreaker — deserves an at-large bid.

“I think you look at where they finished in our league,” Aston said Monday after Texas’ Big 12 tournament final loss to Baylor. “I know it was a logjam and from a technical standpoint they finished third, but the bottom line is, I think all those people that were logjammed at 9-9 should get in the tournament.”

Her squad joined TCU, Oklahoma State and Iowa State at 9-9 in the Big 12, which has the nation’s highest RPI.

TCU’s losses to Texas were about matchups, Aston said

“I think, depending on who they got matched up against, they’re a hard team to play,” she said. “They’re a quirky team because they play mostly guards.”

Texas features two post players in 6-foot-5 sophomore Kelsey Lang and 6-foot-7 junior Imani McGee-Stafford. That can present problems against a team like TCU, which chooses to stay small and quick to force turnovers through an aggressive press.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said the Horned Frogs deserve a bid based on their ultimate seeding after regular-season play, not how they finished the season or played in the tournament.

“An 18-game season means more than coming and playing good for three days,” Mulkey said. “That’s why I’ve never understood why we put so much emphasis on who wins the tournament and they get to get in. Because they got hot for three days? I would start one through five. I would take the first three that won, that puts TCU in because they were third in the league, and then four and five, take those five.”

But ESPN women’s bracketology guru Charlie Creme said the losses to Texas were the tipping point for the Horned Frogs.

Before the Big 12 tournament, Creme had TCU as one of the last teams in the tournament. Now, the Horned Frogs are the second team below the cut line, trailing San Diego.

“The simplest way to describe it would be close but no cigar,” Creme said “I don’t think they will make it. I think they may be a win or two short. I thought there was a point in time where I thought TCU would be able to make it, but the poor performance in the season finale at Texas hurt badly.”

NCAA Women’s Tournament Selection Show

6 p.m. Monday, ESPN

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