The University of South Dakota women’s basketball team appears to be in pretty good shape in terms of landing a WNIT bid on March 12, though there is going to be some serious waiting going on in the meantime.
USD’s RPI is at 90 right now. Historically that would be good enough to get a team into the WNIT, though there are a convoluted series of hoops the Coyotes will have to get through to actually get an invite.
"We like our chances if we can stay in that 90-110 RPI range," USD coach Ryun Williams said Tuesday morning. "Plus, we’re hot right now – we’ve won 11 out of our last 12. That has to say something to them as well."
The WNIT has 31 automatic bids that will go to the highest-finishing team in a league’s regular-season standings that was not selected to play in the NCAA tournament. Taking the Summit League for instance, that bid would automatically go to Oral Roberts if: A. Oral Roberts doesn’t win the Summit League tournament and qualify for NCAA tournament, and: B. it doesn’t land an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
The ‘B’ contingency, in this case, is very unlikely. The Summit League has never put two teams in the NCAA tournament, nor has it put two in the WNIT tournament, for that matter. If SDSU were to swing and miss in the league tournament, however, it would be a much more difficult decision to leave the Jacks out of the NCAAs.
These sort of contingencies have to play out in 31 different conferences, so at this point as far as the Coyotes are concerned, it’s best to just look at the RPI, do some rough math, and hang onto a hunch that one of the 33 at-large bids will come their way.
What makes it a little quirky is that USD plays its last game on Thursday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and then will have to wait two weeks to find out if they’re playing another game. Most likely the Coyotes are in or out already, regardless of how the game against SIUE goes, but they’ll still have to kill a lot of time wondering what comes next. USD would seem a lock to get into the WBI tournament, which they participated in last year, if shunned by the WNIT, but there’s a significant difference in the two as far as name recognition and there is no question which one the Coyotes would rather play in.
"We’re going to keep practicing after we’re done on Thursday," Williams said. "We’ll do this with the expectation that we’re going to get the call."
A look at the official criteria for the WNIT selection process is right here.