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MORNING BRIEFING: NCAA tournament predictions
by Paul Kennedy, November 10th, 2008 8AM
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The 64-team field for the NCAA Division I Women's Tournament will be announced by the NCAA Women's Soccer Committee on Monday.

The bracket will be revealed on the NCAA Women's Soccer Selection Show that is set to air at 8 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.

NCAA CRITERIA

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 will get eight bids. Virginia Tech, the lowest ranked of the eight teams in the ACC Tournament, beat Florida State and Virginia on penalty kicks before falling to North Carolina in the final. No other conference will get more than six bids.

Which champions could have cost conference rivals berths by coming from far back to win their tournaments?

Five teams began the week on the bubble but now find themselves waiting nervously for the NCAA women's soccer committee's announcement after lower ranked conference rivals have snapped up bids they would have not otherwise earned:

-- Memphis beat East Carolina in the Conference USA championship. The Pirates' regular-season title and two tournament wins should be enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament.

-- Tennessee was ranked No. 88 in last week's RPI rankings. The Vols salvaged their season with their SEC championship. Runner-up Georgia is on the bubble at 11-10-1 and needs to leapfrog at least two teams ahead of it in last week's RPI. A win over regular-season champion Florida in the SEC semifinals probably clinched a bid.

-- Western Carolina beat UNC Greensboro on penalty kicks to win the Southern Conference Tournament. Both UNCG games this week went to shootouts. Like last year, the Spartans are right on the bubble.

-- Northeastern was the lowest seed in the CAA Tournament but prevailed with three victories. Two CAA teams -- William & Mary and James Madison -- began the week in reasonable shape, but the CAA top seeds both lost in the semifinals. Both might not survive to make the NCAA Tournament,

How will the Pac-10 results on the final weekend affect the NCAA Tournament at-large bids?

Arizona State began the weekend on the bubble, but double-overtime losses to Washington State (2-1) and Washington (1-0) may have killed the Sun Devils' hopes. Conversely, WSU's wins over ASU and Arizona (1-0) should be enough to put the Cougars into the NCAA Tournament.

Here are Soccer America's predictions on the 34 teams to get at-large bids, giving the nod to East Carolina over UNC Greensboro, Dayton and TCU for the final berth.

ACC (7)
Boston College
Duke
Florida State
Miami (Fla.)
Virginia
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

Big 12 (5)
Colorado
Kansas
Oklahoma State
Texas
Texas A&M

Pac-10 (5)
California
Stanford
USC
Washington
Washington State

SEC (5)
Auburn
Florida
Georgia
LSU
South Carolina

Big East (3)
Marquette
Rutgers
West Virginia

Big Ten (3)
Illinois
Michigan State
Minnesota

Conference USA (2)
East Carolina
UCF

Big West (1)
Long Beach State

Ivy (1)
Princeton

CAA (1)
William & Mary

WCC (1)
San Diego

AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS (30)
ACC North Carolina
AMERICA EAST Boston University
ATLANTIC SUN Belmont
ATLANTIC 10 Charlotte
BIG EAST Notre Dame
BIG SKY Northern Arizona
BIG SOUTH Radford
BIG TEN Penn State
BIG 12 Missouri
BIG WEST UC Santa Barbara
CAA Northeastern
CONFERENCE USA Memphis
HORIZON Milwaukee
*IVY Harvard
MAAC Fairfield
MID-AMERICAN Toledo
MISSOURI VALLEY Evansville
MOUNTAIN WEST BYU
NORTHEAST Central Conn. State
OHIO VALLEY Morehead State
*PAC-10 UCLA
PATRIOT Army
SEC Tennessee
SOUTHERN Western Carolina
SOUTHLAND Texas State
SUMMIT South Dakota State
SUN BELT Denver
SWAC Mississippi Valley
WAC Fresno State
*WCC Portland
*No conference tournament



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