The NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Committee will reveal on Monday the 64 teams that will participate in the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Tournament that begins later this week.
The 64-team bracket will be revealed on the NCAA Women's Soccer Selection Show that is set to air between 8 and 8:30 pm ET on ESPNews.
Before seeding the top 16 teams and drawing the bracket, the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Committee must pick the 34 at-large teams who will join the 30 conference champions who have already qualified.
Here are some key questions being asked as the countdown begins to Monday evening's announcement:
Which conference will get the most bids?
The ACC could get as many as eight bids -- ie., a bid for every team that played in last week's ACC Tournament at the Disney's Soccer Showcase in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The only team that appears to be on the bubble is Miami (Fla.). At 9-6-5, the Hurricanes have one of the weakest records of the teams under consideration and they are winless in their last five games, including a shootout loss (tie) against Virginia in the ACC quarterfinals. But their wins includes North Carolina, Boston College and Alabama A&M (SWAC champion).
What effect will shootout losses have for bubble teams?
Like Miami, bubble teams Auburn (LSU in SEC quarterfinals) and Colorado (Texas in Big 12 quarterfinals) also fell in shootouts to strong teams. At 10-7-2, Auburn has no outstanding win, though victories over bubble teams Samford (3-0) and Kentucky (4-1) could work in its favor. At 9-7-4, Colorado has beaten Sun Belt champion Denver and Oklahoma State, a Big 12 foe also in contention for an at-large berth.
Will Sunday's 2-1 win over USC leapfrog Washington State over other bubble teams?
At 11-5-3, the Cougars are certainly worthy of consideration, though only two other wins were against teams with a record higher than .500 (Gonzaga and Oklahoma State). Recent history should have WSU faithful nervous. Last year, another Pac-10 team, Oregon, put on a late charge and finished at 12-6-2 (and 6-1-2 in the Pac-10) and didn't get in.
Also on the Pac-10 front, will Arizona State's 2-1 win over Arizona in its final game get the Sun Devils in at 10-9-1?
In ASU's favor is a win over Washington State. Six of the other wins were against teams with a record higher than .500, including conference champions Charlotte and Creighton.
Besides Big East division champions and tournament finalists West Virginia and Notre Dame, which Big East teams will get in?
Louisville is a lock; Connecticut should get in even though it lost to Georgetown in the Big East quarterfinals. The Hoyas are 14-7-0 with only other big win -- but it could be decisive. Georgetown beat Marquette (12-4-4), which started 9-0-1 but won only three of their last games.
Will Samford's high RPI earn the Ohio Valley a second entrant in the NCAA Tournament?
Samford, ranked No. 40 in last week's RPI index, fell to SE Missouri on penalty kicks in the Ohio Valley final. The Bulldogs' 15-4-1 record is the best in their history, and it includes wins over three 2007 conference champions -- Kennesaw State, Memphis and High Point. (Two years ago, Samford earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament and knocked off ranked Vanderbilt in the opening round.)
Do regular-season conference champions UCF (Conference USA) and UNC Greensboro (Southern) get in as at-large teams?
At 14-4-3, UCF is worthy of strong consideration. In addition, it's played a solid schedule with 15 games against teams with winning records and ties with Florida State and Miami (Fla.). A win over William & Mary on opening day was the biggest win for UNCG (15-4-1).
With that in mind, here are Soccer America's predictions on the 34 teams to get at-large bids, giving the (ever so slight) nod to Washington State and Samford over Colorado and UNC Greensboro:
Big East (4)
Big Ten (4)
Big 12 (3)
William & Mary
Conference USA (1)
Ohio Valley (1)
*top seed in conference tournament.
n-no conference tournament.
2 *North Carolina, ACC
3 n-UCLA, Pac-10
8 n-Portland, WCC
13 Purdue, Big Ten
14 *West Virginia, Big East
17 Florida, SEC
21 Texas, Big 12
30 Hofstra, CAA
31 *Charlotte, Atlantic 10
38 Memphis, Conference USA
49 BYU, Mountain West
57 *Hawaii, WAC
63 n-Penn, Ivy
65 *Cal St. Fullerton, Big West
71 *Kennesaw State, Atlantic Sun
75 *SE Missouri, Ohio Valley
85 Denver, Sun Belt
88 Furman, Southern
93 Loyola (Md.), Metro Atlantic
97 Toledo, Mid-American
124 Creighton, Missouri Valley
129 Boston Univ., America East
130 Loyola (Ill.), Horizon
143 *Sacramento State, Big Sky
147 Oakland, Summit
150 Stephen F. Austin, Southland
164 Navy, Patriot
188 High Point, Big South
199 *Monmouth, Northeast
219 Alabama A&M, SWAC