Fresh off a victory over rival Bowling Green in the MAC championship, Toledo learned its national tournament fate on Selection Sunday, earning a 12-seed in the Seattle 3 region and drawing five-seed Iowa State in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Toledo enters the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country, with its sixteen-consecutive victories tying it for the sixth-longest streak in women’s basketball. The Rockets’ impressive run down the stretch of league play punctuated one of the program’s most successful campaigns in its history.
The 2022-23 season saw the Blue and Gold earn a 28-4 overall record (second-most wins in program history), capture the MAC regular season and tournament titles, and notch a signature road victory against #14 Michigan. The Rockets were rewarded for their success with several MAC postseason accolades.
Toledo claimed the MAC Player of the Year and Coach of the Year awards, with Quinesha Lockett and Tricia Cullop garnering each of those titles, respectively. The squad also landed Lockett on the All-MAC first-team, Sophia Wiard on the All-MAC second-team, and Khera Goss on the All-MAC Defensive Team.
Iowa State is also enjoying a strong season, as it just defeated #15 Texas to capture its first Big 12 title since 2001. The Cyclones played to a 22-9 overall record, which included five wins over ranked opponents. Iowa State has been a recurring factor on the national stage as it has appeared in four-consecutive tournaments, and is coming off a Sweet 16 run in 2022.
The Cyclones are led by a potent backcourt attack, which is headlined by Big 12 Player of the Year and unanimous All-Big 12 First Team honoree Ashley Joens. The senior guard is a lethal scorer, as her 21 points per game ties her for the twelfth-highest scoring mark in the country.
This will be the first ever meeting between the Cyclones and the Rockets, and it should prove to be a challenging task for Toledo, according to the NCAA’s NET rankings. Iowa State’s conference championship propelled it to the 13th place in the NET’s most recent iteration, while Toledo sits at 67th nationally.
Historically, teams in the twelfth-seed have struggled in the NCAA Women’s Tournament, with such teams compiling just a 29-112 overall record since 1994. However, past squads have paved the way for a potential breakthrough for Toledo as two twelve-seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 in the tournament’s history.
Toledo will look to secure its fourth win in its ninth NCAA tournament on Saturday, March 18 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee. The time of the game is to be announced.