The DII women’s basketball tournament is a month away. It’s time to pay attention to these teams outside the top 25 that may be ready to make some noise this March.
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Lee (17-5, 11-3)
The Flames started the 2019 portion of the schedule red hot, winning seven in a row. They opened the January slate with a 56-51 victory over then-undefeated and No. 1 Union, still the only loss the Bulldogs have on the season. Lee’s top 5 scoring defense — a meager 52.4 points per night allowed — can’t be overlooked. It forces 20.6 turnovers per game. There’s a rematch with Union left on the schedule, and despite hitting a minor speed bump with two losses in their last three, the Flames sure look like a tournament team right now.
Northern Michigan (16-6, 11-3)
🏀 @NMU_WBBall 🏀— NMU Athletics (@NMU_Wildcats) February 8, 2019
FINAL | WILDCATS 56, CARDINALS 38
For the 8th time this GLIAC season NMU keeps a team under 50 points and defeats SVSU for the second time this year!#NMUwildcats #ShareNMU pic.twitter.com/v9CUAht7MY
The Wildcats have an impressive resume thus far in 2018-19. They have wins against nationally-ranked Lewis, Minnesota State Moorhead and Grand Valley State. Like Lee, Northern Michigan has a top 5-ranked scoring defense, which allows just 51.0 points per game, that most impressively Jan. 19 held a Lakers team that averages nearly 75 points a game to just 43.
Lander (16-5, 13-2)
The Bearcats are rolling, winners of eight in a row. One of those wins was against a nationally-ranked North Georgia team, bumping it from the top 25 and allowing Lander to claim sole possession of first place in the Peach Belt. This team can put up points, its 82.2 points per game a top-10 mark in DII. With a pair of scorers in Jessica Harris and Mylea McKenith averaging better than 17 points a night, the Bearcats will be tough to shut down.
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Charleston (WV) (18-3, 13-2)
Glenville State may appear to be a sleeper to some. It is outside the top 25. But this has been a top-scoring team since Kim Stephens arrived and should be on everyone’s radar at this point. The Golden Eagles, however, are surprising in 2019.
WBB | FINAL - UC 71, WVWC 58. Golden Eagles go to 18-3 on the season behind Hayton's double-double (17pts., 10rebs.)— Golden Eagles (@ucwv_athletics) February 8, 2019
Farrington - 15pts., 7asst.
Pannell - 16pts., 4-6 from 3pt.
Sanders - 11pts., 9rebs.#WingsUp pic.twitter.com/kbJIt7knax
Charleston has already eclipsed its 2018 win total of 13 and is rolling. A big rematch with Glenville State looms and if the Golden Eagles can show they can hang with the offensive juggernaut the Pioneers are, you have to believe their top-ranked MEC defense is for real.
Wingate (16-5, 11-3)
Carson-Newman is as much a sleeper out of the SAC as any. The Eagles are sitting at 17-5 with several of the pieces — like Haris Price and Kayla Marosites — that led them to their record-setting 2018 and a spot in the Elite Eight. Problem is, two of those five losses came to Wingate.
Two of the Bulldogs three conference losses came at the hands of SAC leader Anderson (SC), but both games were close battles. This is not a team that will score a ton of points but it can grind you down with its defense. Wingate's Big Three — Caroline Averette, Courtney Robinson, and Danasia Witherspoon — have been to the tournament every season. These seniors are battle tested and can very well surprise a few people this March.