LUMPKIN

Jasmine Lumpkin and the Aggies flew by Missouri on Sunday, 82-63. (Photo by Thomas Campbell/Texas A&M Athletics)

Texas A&M’s 82-63 victory over 11th-ranked Missouri was a huge step toward the Aggies possibly earning a No. 4 seed for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.

A loss on Sunday would have forced the Aggies to reach the Southeastern Conference finals to have a chance of being home to start the NCAA Tournament. Now they just need two more victories to at least be in the mix.

ESPN.com’s Charlie Crème still has the Aggies as a No. 5 seed. Crème made Duke a No. 4 seed on the strength of its 79-66 victory over ninth-ranked Florida State on Monday. Duke and A&M benefitted from Maryland losing to unranked Michigan this week.

Duke and A&M have similar resumes. Duke’s losses are to South Carolina, Louisville, Villanova, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Syracuse. Duke has beaten three ranked teams with Oregon State and Ohio State being the others. A&M has beaten only two ranked teams.

Ohio State, Stanford and Georgia are Crème’s other No. 4 seeds.

It sure looks as if conference tournaments will determine the No. 4 seeds.

Ohio State is the top seed in the Big 10 tourney, which doesn’t have a double bye. The Buckeyes will play the Rutgers-Purdue winner in the quarters. If it makes the semifinals, Iowa or Minnesota will be waiting. Ohio State beat Minnesota (91-75), Rutgers (90-68) and Purdue (73-60) in the regular season but lost at Iowa (103-89).  As the league champ, Ohio State is at least a No. 4 seed if it wins two in Indy.

Stanford is seeded second to Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament. If the bracket holds, Stanford would play Southern Cal in the quarterfinals and Oregon State in the semifinals. Stanford could lose either, but those also are quality opponents. Stanford will be a No. 4 seed if it makes the Pac-12 title game.

Duke is seeded fourth for the ACC tourney, likely to face fifth-seeded N.C. State. Win that and Duke would play top-seeded Louisville in the semifinals. Duke at home beat N.C. State 69-56 on Jan. 7 and the game before that lost at Louisville 66-60. Duke will be in good shape if it goes 1-1, and doesn’t get blown out by Louisville.

The SEC tournament is the most interesting one, because it has A&M and Georgia.

A&M is seeded fifth. A&M shouldn’t have a problem beating Arkansas or Vanderbilt to play fourth-seeded LSU. The teams split the regular season, each winning at home. A&M is the better team, but LSU does have solid guards who can score and defend. If A&M loses, it’ll have no chance to be a No. 4 seed for the NCAA tourney. A win will be good, but not great, since LSU is projected as a No. 6 seed. If A&M gets by LSU, it gets a rematch in the semifinals with second-ranked Mississippi State, which jumped to an 11-0 lead in the first meeting.

The bottom half of the bracket is interesting. Georgia is seeded third. The Bulldogs didn’t play a great nonconference schedule and have beaten only two ranked teams, but they were 12-4 in the SEC. I look for sixth-seeded Missouri to play and beat Georgia in the quarters. Will that be enough to knock Georgia down a line? Tennessee, also a No. 3 seed for the NCAA tourney by Crème, is only seeded seventh for the SEC tourney. It’ll probably lose to South Carolina in the quarters, if A’ja Wilson plays, and still be a No. 3 seed for NCAAs.

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