Two years ago, Toledo and Eastern Michigan both made the WNIT Sweet 16. Last year it was just Toledo. Now we have three teams, and they all have legitimate shots at advancing into the quarterfinals, making this consolation tournament 37.5 percent MAC. This is probably a new record for the conference, but one more win by any of these teams guarantees not only another weekend of MACsketball, but also a combined winning record for all women's basketball teams in the postseason. The mark is currently at 6-3.
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|7:00 p.m.||Drexel (24-10, 13-5 CAA)||at||Bowling Green (24-10, 11-5 MAC)|
About Drexel: The Dragons got here with home wins over Harvard and Iona, and made the WNIT after losing to Sweet 16 team Delaware by just three points in the CAA Championship. Drexel is a terrific offensive team that ranks top 25 in offensive efficiency. I'm also very impressed that they have zero bad losses (perfect against teams with RPI 150 or worse) and have played the good teams close, with just one loss more than 10 points all year (Princeton by 15). They basically play a seven-person rotation and their leading scorer is Hollie Mershon, scores about 20 per game and had 32 against Harvard. Taylor Wootton is also a threat inside as she has scored 20 points twice in the last three games.
Bowling Green has always been about defense, so let's see if they can get enough stops to advance. The winner of this game, we know, will play Auburn sometime this weekend.
|7:00 p.m.||Illinois (18-13, 9-7 Big Ten)||at||Toledo (29-3, 15-1 MAC)|
About Illinois: The record may be a misnomer as they've endured one of the toughest schedules in all the country. So far in the WNIT they've disposed of Miami (OH) and Eastern Illinois, and have played just two teams in the 200 RPI or worse. (Compare with the Rockets, who have 15 such games.) The Illini play fast and free, getting in nearly 80 possessions in 40 minutes, which is just silly. They may not be the most efficient (143rd in the country), but they do have four players who put up 12 points per contest. 6'2" forward Karisma Penn has an outstanding season line: 19 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.9 spg and 2.3 bpg. This team is also menacing on the defensive side, creating 23 turnovers per game, second best in the country. And they have wins over two current Sweet 16 teams: Georgia and Nebraska.
They're in the WNIT primarily because of their record, not because they can't play. Toledo can match up with anyone but they better not sleep on a team like this. Winner plays the winner of Ball State-Kansas State.
|8:00 p.m.||(Ball State (17-15, 12-4 MAC)||at||Kansas State (17-17, 5-13 Big XII)|
About Kansas State: Almost the polar opposite profile of Ball State, based on their record. They started with a 9-3 OOC record, but they didn't have any quality wins in there and got knocked around mightily in conference play. They dispatched Texas Southern and Illinois State at home to begin the WNIT. Heightwise they are a small team, which is surprising for a Big XII program, as nobody is six feet tall save for a reserve freshman. But they are smart on offense: just 13 turnovers per game is 20th best in the country. Senior guard Brittany Chambers leads the way with 21 points and 7.6 assists per contest. Some of their numbers don't look good by virtue of that tough Big XII schedule, b8ut they didn't come close to beating anybody in the RPI top 25, although they did scratch out wins against OK State and Texas Tech.
We've counted out Ball State before and were burned on it, so why stop thinking they have a chance at this point? A win would get them a crack at the winner of Toledo-Illinois.