The DII women’s basketball tournament begins at noon ET on Friday, March 15. That means it’s time to have some fun and pick our bracket.
Now, under the current format of the DII women’s basketball championship, the teams that make it through their respective regions will be reseeded when they get to Columbus, Ohio, for the DII Women’s Elite Eight. Since we won’t be able to determine those seedings right now, we will predict our bracket up until the national quarterfinals and revisit it down the road.
So, how did we pick our winners and losers? We took a look at brackets dating back to 2012 and tried to find some patterns and trends to see if it could help us determine the wild weekend of March ahead. Of course, this isn’t an exact science, but the hope was it could help where we ran into tough matchups and couldn’t decide on talent alone.
Let’s take a look at some of the numbers.
Have confidence in the top seeds, most of the time
From 2012 to 2014, No. 1 seeds dominated the Elite Eight. Fifteen of the 24 national quarterfinal teams from those seasons were No. 1 in their regions. Less and less No. 1 seeds made it to the Elite Eight beginning in 2015 when only three made it and by 2017, just two — eventual national champion Ashland and Columbus State — made it. Last year, the No. 1 seeds claimed their dominance back, sending five top seeds. Here’s the breakdown of seeds that have made the Elite Eight since 2012.
|Seed||Elite Eight appearances||Percentage|
So, if you’re going by the percentages, stay away from the No. 8 seed. It’s pretty safe to pencil in at least three No. 1 seeds with the way recent trends have gone, but you can feel strongly about four or even five. You should have plenty of confidence in two No. 2s if you see a few you like, and if you’re feeling really daring, you’ll see the seven seeds have had a lot of success, with Montana State-Billings making it to the Elite Eight last year as the most recent No. 7.
So, which top seeds do you pick?
Breaking down the conferences in the Elite Eight
Let’s take a look at the conferences that have been most represented in the national quarterfinals since 2012. Perhaps this can help us narrow down those tough decisions we can’t decide on even more. If we envision a bracket that has three No. 1 seeds, three No. 2 seeds, and two from No. 3 through 7 (sorry eights, your day will come soon, just ask UMBC), we can use conference success to help us out.
|Trips to Elite Eight||Conference(s)|
|5||GLIAC, NE10, SSC|
|4||GNAC, MIAA, PBC, PSAC|
|3||CIAA, LSC, NSIC|
|2||CC, GLVC, GSC, ECC, HC, PacWest|
|1||CCAA, GAC, RMAC, SAC|
This is an odd year. Four of those five trips from the GLIAC have been by Ashland. While Jodi Johnson and her crew are more than capable of making a fifth trip to the Elite Eight, Drury is undefeated. It seems like it could be the Panthers year to get by the Eagles and shows there are always exceptions or outliers that need to be considered. For example, you'll see only two PacWest teams have made it since 2012. Both times it was Cal Baptist, who's now in Division I which diminishes that conferences chances (based on numbers) even more. This isn't an end-all answer, but as they say, numbers don't lie.
No. 8 seed first round upsets
Of course, here’s where the curveball comes into play. Aside from 2017 when there were none, there have been two No. 8 over No. 1 upsets in three of the past four seasons. That means the odds are pretty strong there will be another, and maybe even another.
There isn’t much rhyme or reason behind them. Two of the No. 8 upsets — No. 8 Point Loma over No. 1 Alaska Anchorage in 2015 and No. 8 Humboldt State over No. 1 Azusa Pacific last year — occurred out West. Undefeated UC San Diego is the No. 1 seed this year in the West, and while anything can happen, it doesn’t seem likely that its first loss will come in the opening round.
So, which No. 1 is most susceptible to an opening-round upset? Fort Hays State has to play a very tough MIAA foe in Pittsburg State out in the Central. The Tigers handled the Gorillas the first time out, but the two played a tightly contested battle to close the regular season. Glenville State will have the daunting task of beating West Liberty a fourth time to advance out of the Atlantic. The Pioneers won the first three high-octane matchups this season by a combined total of 332-289. Both teams can score, making it tricky. And there’s just no way Anderson (SC) can lose its Southeast Region opener against No. 8 Barton, right? While a 27-game winning streak is nothing short of amazing, it’s also something that fuels opponents to break. And don't forget about NYIT over USciences. The East has long been an unpredictable bracket.
All eight No. 1 seeds are tough this year. To pick against any one of them may seem futile, but history has shown us that there is a likelihood that one will go down, if not more.
UNDEFEATED WATCH: Drury and UC San Diego enter the tournament with perfect records
What did we come up with? Take a look at our completely fun selections. We have an Elite Eight comprised of four No. 1 seeds, a pair of No. 2s, one No. 3 and that lucky No. 7. We'll see if history is on our side.