Utah suffered a stunning loss Thursday in the Pac-12 quarterfinals at the hands of Washington State. The defeat leaves the door wide open for the fourth and final No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Sure, the Utes could still end up as a top seed by the end of this weekend – after all, anything can happen in conference tournaments. But which other teams should be considered for the No. 1 line? Let’s take a look.
If all goes according to plan in the Big Ten Tournament, Iowa and Maryland will duke it out Saturday afternoon for a spot in Sunday’s final.
Had the Hawkeyes not lost to Maryland in the second-to-last game of the regular season, they would be a lock for the final No. 1 seed. But they did, and while Caitlin Clark’s last-second heroics in the season finale against Indiana bode well for the Iowa, the team needs to at least avenge that loss to Maryland to move into a top seed.
Swarm Minneapolis. #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/2YMXR3ywen— Iowa Women's Basketball (@IowaWBB) March 3, 2023
Swarm Minneapolis. #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/2YMXR3ywen
Heading into the season, few thought Maryland would have the chance for a No. 1 seed, given the high-profile transfers that left the program in the offseason.
Yet, here the Terrapins are, with wins over Iowa, Notre Dame, Michigan, UConn, Ohio State and Illinois on their impressive résumé. Utah’s loss has opened the door for the Terps, but they likely will have to beat Illinois and then Iowa in order to do make their case.
Despite head coach Kim Mulkey’s belief to the contrary, LSU does have an argument for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers’ strength of schedule hurts them, but they’ve remained consistent and only have one loss – to No. 1 South Carolina.
If LSU can manage to go all the way and win the SEC Tournament, and if Maryland and Iowa don’t advance to the Big Ten Tournament final, LSU could have a fighting chance.
The reality is, despite its loss Thursday, Utah still has a top-line résumé. The Utes have their recent win over Stanford, which itself looks destined for a No. 1 seed, as well as wins over Arizona and Oklahoma.
While Thursday’s loss to Washington State doesn’t help their chances, they shouldn’t be counted out, especially if other teams don’t perform to expectation over the conference tournament weekend.