Rice women’s basketball is in the midst of an incredible run which the team hopes will end in an NCAA Tournament berth. How close are the Owls to the postseason?
March is nearing and Rice women’s basketball is looking for their dancing shoes. The squad has been one of the most dominant teams in the nation for the entirety of 2019. They’ll hope to capitalize on their storybook season with a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The necessary preparations for a postseason run are being put in place.
The circumstances are almost irrelevant — this team doesn’t care. All they do is win. The Rice women’s basketball team has won 20 of their last 21 games and has yet to suffer defeat in conference play. With just two road games remaining against 5-6 North Texas and 1-10 UTSA, the Owls have a real shot at winning out and reaching 25 wins before the conference tournament.
Rice has won 13 games in a row, the most consecutive victories in school history and the third longest active streak in the nation. Every win literally makes history. The Owls have won 11 straight conference games, reaching 20 wins early in February. For comparison, Rice won their 20th game on March 3 in 2018, March 19 in 2017 and only reached 18 wins combined between the ’14-’15 and ’15-’16 seasons.
There’s no doubting the Owls’ impressive run will force the NCAA selection committee to look long and hard at all this team has accomplished this season. With five regular season games remaining, Rice is projected as an 11-seed in ESPN analyst Charlie Creme’s latest Bracketology. That seed line could creep higher if Rice continues to win, but a higher seed isn’t all that’s at stake right now.
Multiple CUSA teams have reached the field in the somewhat recent past. MTSU and Western Kentucky both made the field in 2014, the Blue Raiders first year in the conference. Multiple CUSA squads haven’t made the field together since the conference contract to 14 teams in 2015.
Conference USA has traditionally been a one-bid league. Win the conference tournament and you’re going dancing, regardless of how your season has faired up until that point. Lose the conference tournament, and more often than not, you’re out.
If Rice can win out, but falls in the conference tournament, they’ll still have a strong chance of making it in, which is another testament to the incredible job these ladies have done this season. Rice is closing in on lock status, but the Owls can’t truly be sure of their NCAA fates without cutting down the nets in Frisco.