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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | February 9, 2022

5 under-the-radar teams that could make a run in the 2022 DII women's basketball tournament

Wayne Cavadi's top second-half storylines for DII women's basketball

We are nearing selection time in the DII women’s basketball season. Instead of honing in on the top contenders for the NCAA DII women’s basketball tournament, here are five teams that may be flying under the radar… but shouldn’t be.

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These are five programs that have put together solid resumes for the selection committee thus far. Most have not spent much time in the national rankings and could be preparing for that Cinderella March run where the rest of the world finds out what we already knew.

These five teams can straight up ball.

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Missouri Southern

The Missouri Southern Lions started the season losing their first two games before gaining some momentum. When the calendar flipped to 2022, the Lions again lost two in a row, but things have changed in Joplin. The Lions are on a nine-game winning streak. Three of those wins are against former No. 1 Fort Hays State, nationally ranked Nebraska-Kearney and Central Missouri, which is in the top eight of the Central Region right now. They have done so with a smothering defense, allowing just 53.5 points per game over the current win streak. The Lions are getting hot at the right time and if they can keep this momentum rolling, they are a team to watch in March.

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Cal State San Marcos

It’s odd that the Cougars haven’t been getting more attention in the national polls. Cal State San Marcos has now won 11 in a row and that includes a 12-point victory over Cal State East Bay — a team that was ranked significantly higher in the Feb. 2 WBCA and D2SIDA polls. That puts the Cougars atop the CCAA in large part due to the conference’s top-scoring offense. This team has big games remaining against Chico State and Stanislaus State, but their other four games are against teams with sub-.500 records. The Cougars should have a lot of momentum rolling into the CCAA tourney.

Central Washington

Let’s stay out West and look at a team that is among the most perplexing in 2021-22. The Wildcats have a blowout signature in-region win against Cal State East Bay as well as another big victory against West Texas A&M, which looks to be a tournament contender again. They are also the only team to knock off the top team in the West Region and GNAC-rival Western Washington this year. They split with Northwest Nazarene, and just when it looked like they were rolling amid a 10-game win streak, they dropped a 10-point loss to Alaska Anchorage. The Wildcats now sit at 15-5, and that may help them. This is a very scary and strong team that some may sleep on because of those five losses.

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Missouri-St. Louis

The Tritons have put together a very strong season, sitting at 17-2. However, when Ashland, Drury and Grand Valley State are the top 3 teams in your region, success is sometimes overlooked. UMSL took care of business on Feb. 4 by defeating Drury by 10 points and handing the Panthers their largest margin of defeat since last year’s championship game. The Tritons also have a signature in-region win against Kentucky Wesleyan and boast a top-5 scoring defense in the division. UMSL has a tremendous game against Southern Indiana on Feb. 24 before the GLVC tournament, but its resume is as sound as any heading into March.

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Southwestern Oklahoma State

The Bulldogs are 19-4, but let’s remember two of those losses came opening weekend at the D2CCA Tipoff Challenge against perennial tournament-bound teams. SWOSU did drop a tough one to Harding recently, but this team has been a GAC power for the better part of five years now and it just seems odd to not see them in the national rankings. This team has a combination of potent scorers and tournament experience that just makes it feel like they may be saving their best for last. The Feb. 17 showdown against Harding could very well decide the GAC, but if SWOSU comes out victorious, it may be another deep run in March for the Bulldogs.

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