This has been the most difficult year in recent memory to forecast the women's NCAA tournament field. And from lingering questions about which teams should be No. 1 seeds to an extremely cluttered bubble, questions still exist even less than 24 hours before the bracket is unveiled (ESPN and WatchESPN, 7 p.m. ET).
Let's address some of them one final time:
The Cardinal stumbled twice in the season's final month, to Washington in the regular season and against Southern California in the Pac-12 semifinals, and the losses have led to some argument that Stanford should fall off the top line. Who then would claim the No. 1 seed? Louisville, South Carolina and Baylor are the contenders. Louisville seems the most popular choice, although just as many critics seem to be questioning the Cardinals' credentials to be a No. 2 seed.
The evidence in favor of Louisville: Its only losses are to Connecticut (three times) and Kentucky. The Cardinals have beaten everyone else, whereas Stanford has the two Pac-12 losses. The problem: Though Louisville beat "everyone else," the schedule doesn't amount to anything close to the competition Stanford has beaten.
Stanford has 12 top-50 wins. Only Notre Dame and Tennessee have more. Stanford's schedule was more difficult, whether we're talking nonconference or conference. In fact, Stanford's four best nonconference wins (Tennessee, Purdue, Gonzaga and Texas) are better than any victory Louisville had all season up to this point. Even if one is using the eye test to evaluate Louisville, there's too much disparity in what each team has accomplished.
South Carolina (regular season) and Baylor (Big 12 tourney) both have conference championships on their résumés. Both are impressive. But neither had a nonconference season, be it in strength of schedule or results, becoming of a No. 1 seed.
This will be the biggest reveal on Monday night since this question has been pondered and debated since January. The answer is far from simple. If the committee follows its recent trends of going strictly geographically in its team placement, the Huskies will be the top seed in the Louisville Regional.
If the committee wants the best bracket possible, UConn will play in the Lincoln Regional. It would be more balanced and truly doesn't change much in terms of the travel economics. Though I had UConn in Louisville since January and February, my confidence has grown that the committee will opt for UConn in Lincoln and the better bracket scenario.
While this isn't as prominent a discussion as which team should be the final No. 1, it's still interesting. Duke is the choice here, but barely over West Virginia. The Blue Devils' résumé is far superior, but much of that was built with some players, most notably Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones, who are now sidelined due to injury. However, by playing well in the ACC tournament, Duke took steps toward validating that résumé and gets the nod.
The Mountaineers had a great season, but a nonconference schedule that ranks in the 250s hurts.