Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Gophers women better win at least two more games to be sure

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Sports, Gophers post season Updated: March 5, 2014 - 5:09 AM

After the Gophers women's basketball team beat Indiana, coach Pam Borton said, "if we can go .500 in the Big Ten, then we're in great shape for the NCAA Tournament."

Well, her Gophers did win their next game, versus Ohio State, to get to 8-8 but ... the Gophers are not in great shape at all.

I have to make a confession -- it's good for the soul, right? -- I am a bracketology expert.

At least, as college hockey goes. All the tournament winners get into the NCAA field and then you just look at the PairWise rankings -- which some hockey/numbers cruncher genius devised -- and count down from the top, excluding tournament champs, until you get to 16.

That's the NCAA tournament field. Easy. 100 percent accurate. Don't need s selection committee except to decide what regions to send team.

In women's basketball, bracketology is a little more complicated. But I'm going to give it a shot with the help of the Internet. There's a lot of stuff on it, a wise sports columnist once said

And I found the S-factor by accident the other day, so I am well-armed. All I'm really trying to figure out is if the Gophers are in.

It (the S Factor) can be found here.

What does it try to do?

The College Women's Hoops S-Factor is a formula that attempts to mimic the choices made by the Selection Committee for the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Tournament every March.

The S-Factor uses the following data to rank each team:

- RPI
- conference regular season performance
- conference tournament performance
- wins against good and great teams
- losses against bad and terrible teams
- strength of conference
- overall record against all teams

Is it accurate? In 2013, the S-Factor correctly predicted 62 out of the 64 teams.

That's pretty darn good.

And as of today, the S-factor has the Gophers in, hanging by a thread as an 11th seed.

An 11th seed, but isn't that pretty good? Nope.

Here's why. Of the 24 teams seeded 11 through 16 a years ago, 22 were tournament champions who received automatic bids. Only Kansas (18-13), 7th in the Big 12 and West Virginia (17-13), tied for 5th in the Big East 12 got seeded that low as at-large teams. Kansas was a 12th seed, West Virigina an 11th seed. So they were the last two at-large teams in. ... That's about the spot the Gophers are in.

The Gophers, 19-11, 8-8 tied for sixth in the Big Ten.

The Big Ten had six teams in the Big Dance a year ago, all of them won 20 games in the regular season. Penn St. was a third seed, Big Ten tournament champion Purdue was a fourth seed, Michigan State a fifth, Nebraska a sixth and Iowa (21-13, 8-8) a ninth. Nobody was on the bubble.

That's not the case in 2014. Five Big Ten teams all have 20 wins and winning conference marks of at least 11-5. They are all in, easily.

The Gophers are only 8-8 in the conference. Only four teams with .500 conference marks made the 2013 tournament and only one, 8-10 Kansas, with an under .500 conference mark.

Another problem for the Gophers is their resume. Frankly, it's not very impressive.

They were 0-7 versus the five NCAA tournament teams in the Big Ten, and 8-1 against Michigan (the other 8-8 team in the conference) and the five teams below them in the standings.

Looking at their nonconference record of 13-3, the Gophers didn't play a single team that is assured of being in the NCAA field.

Their best win was over Southern Conference regular-season champion Chattanooga (26-3, No. 44 RPI). They also beat Patriot champion Navy (23-6, No. 56), Mountain West champion Colorado St. (22-6, No. 87) and Big Sky champion North Dakota (20-8, No. 93).

But all those teams will have to win their conference tournaments to get automatic bids. No real big win anywhere. The Gophers' other nine nonconference wins came against four teams who were between one and five games over .500 and three teams below .500.

Of the 32 conferences who receive automatic bids, 23 only had one NCAA team last season. Won't be much different this year.

So the conferences to watch for the Gophers are the ACC, with five NCAA teams last year, the Big 12 (7), the Big East (8), the Pac 12 (4) and the SEC (7).

This year, the S-factor has the ACC with seven, the Big 12 with five, the reconfigured Big East with two, the Pac 12 with four and the SEC with seven. ... If one or two unexpected teams make a strong run in the conference tournaments, the bubble could burst for teams barely in the tournament now.

The S-factor has the Gophers, Central Michigan and Fordham as the three newest teams in.

ESPN has the Gophers, Florida, Florida St. and Oregon St. on the bubble as the last four in.

Collegesportsmadness.com has the Gophers out.

RealTimeRPI.com has the Gophers' RPI at No. 38 (RPI is is a quantity used to rank sports teams based upon a team's wins and losses and its strength of schedule) and strength of schedule at No. 19.

That's all good, but a win against lowly Wisconsin in the Gophers' first Big Ten tournament game -- which would be the Gophers' third win over the Badgers this season -- won't help the U much in resume-building.

How about the Gophers getting to 20th wins if they beat the Badgers? Doesn't mean all that much. The Pac-12 and SEC, two major conferences, both had two 20-win teams last season left out of the Big Dance.

To ensure getting into the NCAA, the Gophers better beat Wisconsin and third seed Nebraska in the quarterfinals. A win over the Cornhuskers would be Minnesota's first this season over a team that would get an at-large bid even if it doesn't win its conference tournament.

That's what is called a quality win.

And they are certainly capable of it. The Gophers lost in Lincoln in overtime this season the only time they played Nebraska.

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