Championship Week has arrived. Some regular-season races have yet to wrap up, but much of the women's college basketball world is moving on to conference tournaments -- and with them comes the final push for NCAA tournament positioning.
Sunday's results provided a bit more clarity, but the No. 1 seeds are more in flux than they have been in recent years. While Connecticut is a lock and Notre Dame is now pretty close to a lock after a dominant performance against Florida State, the other two spots aren't nailed down yet. The Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC tournaments will figure those out for us. The Big Ten, Atlantic 10 and American could have a major say in how the last few spot in the field are chosen. Seed jockeying will be a nationwide shuffle this week.
But which teams have the most to gain and to lose from now until next Sunday?
Oregon State: The Beavers already have an outright Pac-12 title and have had one of the most consistent seasons in America. Oregon State could earn a No. 1 seed if it adds a conference tournament championship -- and gets some help. Specifically, failures by any two of the three among Baylor, Mississippi State and South Carolina to reach their respective conference finals could open the door. The Beavers are unlikely to fall out of the No. 2 slot and can only elevate if things go their way.
Ohio State: The upset of Maryland last Monday night increased the Buckeyes' stock. Then Texas A&M lost and Oklahoma lost, which followed an NC State loss. Suddenly, Ohio State was in position for a spot in the top 16 with a chance to host first- and second-round games. A trip to the Big Ten finals should solidify just that. Anything less and the Sooners, DePaul, the Wolfpack -- or even Missouri and Kansas State -- could be ready to pounce. Expanding their current 10-game winning streak to at least 12 should get the Buckeyes some home games.
Auburn: In any other year, last Monday's loss to Alabama (a sixth in a row) would have finished the Tigers. But when Iowa and West Virginia also lost, and Green Bay opened up another at-large spot by taking back the Horizon League's automatic bid (Green Bay has a more formidable at-large résumé), the Tigers were back in. Two wins at the SEC tournament in Greenville, South Carolina, might be the only way to stay there. Otherwise, 17-13 Auburn will be the first team out if something happens like Drake fails to win the MVC or a team other than George Washington or Dayton grabs the A-10 tournament crown. Those teams have better at-large prospects than Auburn. Other winners in those leagues steals a bid that could go to the Tigers if they leave themselves vulnerable.
Mississippi State: Of all the top teams, the Bulldogs suffered the most in the last week because of their two-game slide. They went from a No. 1 seed -- and at one point No. 2 overall -- to No. 6 overall today. Getting back to the top-line begins and ends with winning the SEC tournament. Do that, and if Oregon State and/or Baylor fails to win their league titles, Mississippi State will have its No. 1 seed again.
Baylor: The Lady Bears are a No. 1 seed through Sunday's games and will be in the Oklahoma City Regional if they take care of business. However, they still have a dangerous home game at Oklahoma on Monday night and then must get through the Big 12 tournament. Granted, Baylor has blitzed the entire league other than Texas, but should the Lady Bears fall to the Sooners or earlier than the Big 12 title game, and South Carolina and Oregon State win championships, Kim Mulkey's bunch could end up on the No. 2 line.
Iowa State: The Cyclones elevated significantly with Friday's win at Texas. How big? From four spots out of the field to a three-team cushion. That is the nature of a thin, unimpressive bubble. Now Iowa State has something only Virginia can claim among bubble teams: a win over a top-15 RPI opponent. Even better, the Cyclones did it on the road. However, losing the next two -- Oklahoma State Monday and the first Big 12 tournament game -- would negate that elevation, leave the Cyclones at 17-13, and back to likely being out. Simply taking care of business -- don't lose any games you shouldn't -- will be enough.
Texas A&M: This is a strange one. The Aggies' four-game losing streak to finish the regular season effectively eliminated them for top-16 consideration. Their subsequent drop landed them a No. 6 seed in this week's projection. But if that's where they remain on Selection Monday, they might end up hosting. Stanford looks to be a No. 3 seed, but because of a venue conflict cannot serve as an NCAA tournament first- and second-round host. The hosting duties would fall to the No. 6 seed in that eighth of the bracket. With bracketing principles and procedures as they are, Texas A&M would be the most likely candidate for the spot alongside the Cardinal. In other words, the Aggies could be better off just winning enough in Greenville rather than making a big run and earning a No. 5 seed, which takes them out of any likely pairing with Stanford.