First, keep in mind that:
- Since winning a conference tournament title guarantees an NCAA slot, technically every team outside of the Ivy League is still alive for that event. The Ivy has no tournament and sends its regular-season champion to the NCAAs.
- The highest finisher in each conference that doesn't make the NCAA's receives an automatic bid to the WNIT.
- Teams must have a least a .500 record to receive a WNIT at-large bid.
- RPIs listed below are as of Feb. 10 from the NCAA official website.
With all that as a backdrop, here's a team-by-team breakdown of the possibilities:
JMU's stretch run: Friday vs. UNC Wilmington (RPI 289); Sunday at Drexel (110); Feb. 20 at Delaware (125); Feb. 23 vs. Hofstra (159); Feb. 27 at Charleston (149); March 2 vs. William and Mary (278); March 5 at Northeastern (185).
Virginia's stretch run: Friday at Georgia Tech (RPI 40); Sunday vs. Virginia Tech (111); Feb. 20 vs. North Carolina (33); Feb. 23 at N.C State (12); Feb. 27 vs. Miami (91); March 2 at Florida State (29).
Hampton's stretch run: Saturday at Norfolk State (RPI 291); Feb. 22 at Howard (252); Feb. 24 at Maryland-Eastern Shore (329); March 1 vs. Norfolk State (291); March 6 vs. North Carolina A&T (91).
Liberty's stretch run: Saturday at Gardner-Webb (243); Feb. 20 vs. UNC Asheville (273); Feb. 22 vs. Winthrop (116); Feb. 27 at Radford (335); March 1 at Longwood (327).
VCU's stretch run: Saturday at Rhode Island (328); Wednesday vs. St. Bonaventure (58); Feb. 22 vs. Saint Louis (215); Feb. 26 at Richmond (133).
ODU down the stretch: Saturday vs. UTEP (RPI 51); Wednesday at Rice (155); Feb. 22 at Texas-San Antonio (171); Feb. 26 vs. Louisiana Tech (221); March 1 at Florida International (158); March 5 vs. East Carolina (62).
Virginia Tech (11-13, 1-10 ACC): When the Hokies woke up on New Year's Day, they were 10-2 - including victories over Michigan State and Florida - with legitimate NCAA aspirations. Tech has won just one game since, though, and now finds itself scrambling just to become WNIT-eligible. Of their five remaining games, only two - at North Carolina on Feb. 23 and at Maryland on March 2 - fall into the major upset category so winning opportunities will be there. Heck, they might even make a little noise in the ACC Tournament - the talent for such a run is certainly there. But frankly, we're not sure they've ever fully recovered from an early January stretch of close games that didn't go their way. The tough luck resumed Thursday night when Wake Forest hit two free throws with 5 seconds left to nip the Hokies 65-64. The loss dropped Tech to 1-5 in ACC games decided by 7 points or less.
Virginia Tech down the stretch: Sunday at Virginia (55); Feb. 20 vs. Pittsburgh (123); Feb. 23 at North Carolina (33); Feb. 27 vs. Clemson (137); March 2 at Maryland (24).
Richmond down the stretch: Saturday at Dayton (RPI 19); Wednesday at UMass (283); Feb. 22 vs. George Washington (108); Feb. 26 vs. VCU (112); March 1 at George Mason (287).
The following teams have little to no mathematical shot at an at-large bid to either tournament. But again, conference tournaments await, so hope springs eternal.
Norfolk State (10-11, 6-4 MEAC) can finish with a winning record but has an RPI of 291, well outside of WNIT at-large bid range. The MEAC Tournament is in Norfolk, though. . . George Mason (7-18, 1-11 Atlantic 10) took out six weeks worth of frustration during Wednesday's 101-78 throttling of hapless UMass for their first victory in 2014. But they'll need at least two more wins to avoid the A-10 tourney's one-game play-in contest and the scenario of having to win five games in five days. . . Injuries and a lack of offense/rebounding have short-circuited last year's Big South Cinderella Longwood (7-18, 4-12 Big South). The Lancers were surprise tournament finalists in 2013. . . William and Mary (5-17, 2-8 CAA) and Radford (7-18, 5-11 Big South) are experiencing the typical growing pains that come when a new coach takes over a program that graduated a bevy of seniors. But after losing its first 15 games against Division I foes, Radford has gone 5-3 since Jan. 16 and has won four of its last five. Could the Highlanders be this year's Longwood at the Big South tourney?