After her team’s March 5 exit in the Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinal round against Texas A&M, LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Fargas felt her Tigers could still land an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
LSU continued to practice in the lead up to Monday’s announcement of the 64-team field, but ultimately those hopes fizzled when the Tigers (9-13) weren’t selected, and their 2020-21 season officially came to a close.
Fargas was not available for comment.
LSU carried a NET rating of 61 and a No. 3 strength of schedule as two of the building blocks in Fargas’ case for her team to possibly land one of 33 at-large berths into NCAA the tournament which for the first time waived the requirement for having a winning record because of coronavirus pandemic.
LSU went 5-9 in 14 games against Quad 1 teams, including victories over then undefeated Texas A&M and Georgia who were seeded No. 2 and No. 3 respectively in the NCAA field.
The Tigers finished eighth in the SEC regular season with a 6-8 record but had two games cancelled because of COVID-19 related issues with Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
LSU won its first game in the SEC tournament against Mississippi State, 71-62, before bowing out against Texas A&M, 77-58.
LSU wasn’t listed as a school in the 64-team field in Monday’s update by ESPN.com’s Charlie Crème, who correctly predicted three of the last four teams to receive at-large berths in Washington State, Wake Forest and Central Florida. Brigham Young, which defeated LSU 67-51 in the season-opener for both teams, earned the final at-large spot.
The SEC wound up with seven teams in the NCAA tournament with No. 1 South Carolina and Texas A&M leading the way. Georgia and Tennessee are both No. 3 seeds, Arkansas and Kentucky both No. 4, while Alabama’s No. 7 – a group LSU had a 2-8 record against.
Fargas took LSU to the NCAA tournament in six of her first seven years at the school, including consecutive Sweet 16 appearances between 2012-14, marking the last time the Tigers won a game in the NCAA tournament.
LSU hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 2017-18. The Tigers were on the cusp of a bid last season, though, with a 20-10 record when the NCAA cancelled its tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Fargas has one year left on her contract that pays her $700,000 annually. However, according to her contract, both LSU and Fargas agreed her buyout would be $200,000 per year for every remaining year on her contract.