Sports Opinion | UCCS should have been selected for NCAA tournament

The NCAA Division II women’s basketball teams were selected for the NCAA Tournament on March 10. Despite advancing to the RMAC Championship on March 9 and finishing in the top four in RMAC, the UCCS women’s basketball team failed to be selected for the NCAA Tournament.

Regis University was the automatic qualifier after winning the RMAC Championship game against UCCS. The teams selected for the NCAA tournament were Adams State, Colorado Mesa and Colorado School of Mines. RMAC displayed the rankings for this conference and the top five teams finished as follows: Regis, Colorado Mesa, UCCS, Adams State and Colorado School of Mines.

Even though UCCS advanced to the RMAC semifinal after beating Colorado School of Mines in the quarterfinal and won the following game to play Regis in the Championship, UCCS was not selected to be in the NCAA tournament. Instead, Colorado School of Mines made the tournament.

Here is how the NCAA Tournament works: 64 teams enter the NCAA DII Tournament and 23 teams are automatically built into the bracket from winning their conference tournaments. During the final three weeks, the NCAA will release the regional rankings and continue to update the rankings each week.

The rankings show the top 10 teams per region and the top eight will make the bracket, but they can change. This helps the committee and teams view where they stand and see where they fall. When teams in the conference upset higher-ranked teams, they knock certain teams out of the top eight.

The selection committee comes in and evaluates the remaining teams to determine which will be placed in the bracket for the NCAA Tournament. These selections are made after the 23 teams automatically advance.

The selection committee looks at specific criteria for each team to determine who they will select to participate in the NCAA Tournament. The criteria are as follows:

  • DII in-region winning percentage
  • Overall DII winning percentage
  • Strength of schedule against DII programs
  • Head-to-head wins and losses against DII programs
  • Results against common DII opponents
  • In-region RPI
  • Performance indicator
  • Record vs. ranked teams

Once they determine which teams will advance, they announce the bracket the Sunday before the tournament during the Selection Show.

UCCS falls under the South-Central Region, and Regis and Texas Woman’s University were the two teams automatically put into the tournament from winning their conferences. This left six teams to be selected for the NCAA Tournament. After the conference tournaments, UCCS finished ninth, closely behind Colorado School of Mines that finished seventh.

The Mountain Lions worked through a successful season and beat Colorado School of Mines in the first round of the RMAC Tournament and both teams ended with a similar record, yet Mines made the tournament over UCCS.

I understand that UCCS did not make the top eight in the region, but this is why there is a selection committee. The committee makes the final decision after the rankings are complete to accommodate for the upsets and give teams the opportunity to still make the tournament because they deserve it.

UCCS was not evaluated fairly and was overlooked during the selection process. The Mountain Lions fought this season, overcoming injuries and turned the program around and made it to the RMAC Championship for the first time since 2017 and were ruled out of the NCAA Tournament.

Adams State was ranked below UCCS in RMAC, they lost in the semi-final, and they made the NCAA Tournament as well. UCCS should’ve been selected for the 2024 NCAA DII Tournament, especially over Colorado School of Mines. The selection committee failed UCCS and deprived them of their deserving opportunity to play in the tournament.

The women’s basketball bench when they played New Mexico Highlands on March 2. Photo by Lillian Davis.