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Q&A: ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme discusses Iowa women's hoops

BY MATT COZZI | MARCH 01, 2012 6:30 AM

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ESPN analyst Charlie Creme has been assembling the NCAA women's basketball tournament bracket since 2002. This is a busy time for the bracketologist, because most of the premier leagues in basketball — including the Big Ten — begin their conference tournaments today. The Daily Iowan spoke with Creme last week about Iowa's NCAA Tournament chances, how the selection committee views injuries to elite players on tournament-contending teams, and creating the bracket in general.

He had the Hawkeyes (19-10, 11-5 Big Ten) as an No. 8 seed in his most recent bracket, which was released on Monday.

DI: Can Iowa improve on its current 8- or 9-seed range?

Creme: Say they win … a game or two in the Big Ten Tournament — they can certainly move up.
It's all relative to what other teams do, as well. Everyone is looking to get out of that 8-9 range, but really, that's eight teams you have to jump to get to a [7-seed]. It's not necessarily jumping one team for one seed spot. You might have to jump numerous teams.

DI: Can you remember a time when a team such as Iowa has won several games in a row without its best player, like Jaime Printy?

Creme: Off the top of my head, no. It's a fairly rare occurrence. Kansas lost its best player to an injury [on Feb. 12] … They were having one of their best seasons within the last decade. But now that they don't have Caroline Davis, they're fading like crazy … they're in trouble. Three weeks ago, there was no problem with them getting in — they were in the 7-8 seed range. I think they're more like a 9, 10, or 11 now.

Does the committee take injuries into consideration? Of course. They take everything into consideration. They're asking: How is the team playing without that player? Can they compete for the championship without her?

In Iowa's case, the committee has a good look at what it can do without Printy, especially since that's the team going into the tournament. They're clearly capable of winning games even without their best player.

DI: Last year, Iowa was a 6-seed but played Gonzaga, an 11-seed, in the Bulldogs' home gym. Can that happen again?

Creme: I'm not so sure, but you bring up a good point: Iowa had to do it last year, so the committee would try to avoid that. They tend to attempt to prevent that from happening, anyway. But there are so many other things that go into building the bracket that sometimes you can't help it.

DI: With 64 teams to project, what is it like putting the bracket together in general?

Creme: I'm the so-called expert, but I still learn every time, too. I think as you talk about some of these things, people understand there's more to it. The [selection] committee is not out to screw a particular program. It's really hard to put together this bracket, especially when you have circumstances like host schools, conferences with as many as eight teams making it in, and then seven more from another league. You just have to wait and see what happens.

Follow DI women's basketball reporter Matt Cozzi on Twitter.


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