Just eight teams remain in the DII women’s basketball season. No. 1-seeded North Georgia leads the pack into Birmingham, Ala., for the 2022 DII Women’s Elite Eight, with first tip at 1 p.m. ET on Monday, March 21.
From top to bottom, this field is stacked and very balanced. Here’s one thing to know about each team remaining in the 2022 DII Women’s Elite Eight.
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No. 1 North Georgia: This is the second appearance in the DII Women’s Elite Eight for the Nighthawks after making their first appearance in 2019. Two players — Julianne Sutton and Abbie Franklin — started every game for the 2019 team and are back this time around. The run the Nighthawks have been on since the duo were freshmen in 2017-18 is one of the best in program history: They have reached the regionals in all five seasons with two regional final appearances and the only two DII Women’s Elite Eight appearances in program history.
No. 2 Grand Valley State: Excuse the cliche, but defense wins championships. The Lakers have led DII women’s basketball in scoring defense for pretty much the whole season and allow just 49.8 points per game. To get to the DII Women’s Elite Eight, they held Walsh to 61 points (its second-lowest output of the season) and Drury to 69 points. Those are two of the best teams in the country.
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No. 3 Glenville State: The Pioneers are hoping that offense wins championships. Head coach Kim Stephens has another scoring powerhouse that returns to the DII Women’s Elite Eight for the first time since 2007. The Pioneers led DII women’s basketball by scoring 96.1 points per game — nearly 14 points better than the next closest team — but don’t think this is a one-trick show. Glenville State is ferocious on defense, leading DII in turnover margin as well.
No. 4 Valdosta State: The last time the Blazers were in the DII Women’s Elite Eight, a young fella named Michael Jordan was amid one of the more dominating rookie seasons in NBA history. That was 1984. To get to the quarterfinals, the Blazers took down a pair of top-15 teams in Tampa and Union (TN). The Bulldogs were the No. 1 team in DII, and the Blazers’ defense held them to a mere .393 shooting in the impressive victory.
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No. 5 Western Washington: The Vikings were a top team all season long and proved that in the West Regionals, taking down the No. 1 and No. 2 seed to return to the DII Women’s Elite Eight. Western Washington got here with a very strong defense which makes its first-round matchup with Valdosta State very intriguing: Both the Blazers and Vikings led their respective conferences in scoring defense. Get ready for an all-out battle.
No. 6 West Texas A&M: Just how stacked is the DII Women’s Elite Eight field? The Buffs were a No. 1 seed in their region and are now a six-seed in Birmingham. This has been an amazing run for West Texas A&M. Josh Prock took over the program that saw a few new faces and simply kept firing. This team rides into the quarterfinals with a lot of momentum, winners of eight straight which includes the Lone State Conference title, the South Central title and two wins over the two-time defending champions, Lubbock Christian.
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No. 7 Missouri Western: If you are looking for Cinderella, you found her. Candi Whitaker has to be a front-runner for coach of the year. She took a team that had a mere six wins last year after losing the entire starting five and has the Griffons in the DII Women’s Elite Eight for the first time since 1995. They stomped No. 2-seeded Southwestern Oklahoma State 111-77 to open the Central Region tourney and then erased a 21-point deficit to beat No. 1-seeded Fort Hays State in the finals. This may be the scariest No. 7 seed in the DII Women’s Elite Eight in a long time.
No. 8 Pace: Coming into the tournament, I discussed the success of the seven seed and said to pencil in the Setters as an DII Women’s Elite Eight team. Lo and behold, the Setters have arrived as one of three seven seeds to advance. Pace has just one scorer averaging more than 10 points per game, but she is a good one. Lauren Schetter came back for one more year and it’s been a historic one for the Setters: She’s scoring 19.5 points with 7.8 rebounds per game and was the East Regionals Most Outstanding Player.