The 2023 DII Women's Elite Eight is set to tip off from St. Joseph, Missouri on March 20. Cal State Dominguez Hills and Catawba get things started at 1 p.m. ET.
Heading into the tournament, my bracket prediction looked at the uncertainty of the DII women's basketball championship. It used the last six or so years of the DII Women's Elite Eight format, so it wasn't a tiny sample size. Over that span we saw you can expect the unexpected. Upsets were quite possible, No. 7 seeds made regular pilgrimages to the DII Women's Elite Eight, and having the No. 1 seed meant very little.
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Until 2023, that is. An unprecedented seven No. 1 seeds will tip off in St. Joseph looking for a spot in that title game on April 1 from Dallas, Texas. That means we have a balanced field and although they had to be seeded Nos. 1-8, there are no longer any upset watches. You can argue this is the best of the best remaining from a certain point of view. Let's take a look at each team remaining.
What to know about each DII Women's Elite Eight team
No. 1 Ashland. The Eagles are one of two teams remaining that have already won at least one national championship. Ashland is looking for its third in the past 10 tournaments. As they did in their previous two championship game appearances, the Eagles enter the DII Women's Elite Eight undefeated. The 2017 team is one of just five undefeated national champions in the sport's history. Can the Eagles join Lubbock Christian as the only other team to do that twice?
No. 2 Minnesota Duluth. Duluth is a fun place to be right now as both the men and women are still dancing in their respective DII Elite Eights. And like their male counterparts, this is their maiden voyage to the DII Women's Elite Eight. This has not only been one of the best teams all year, they have arguably the best player in DII women's basketball. Brooke Olson averages 23.0 points per game — a whopping 32.3 percent of the Bulldogs points per game — and adds 7.4 rebounds to the mix. She has been a driving force on their current 12-game winning streak.
No. 3 Cal State Dominguez Hills. What story for the Toros. From 13-12 a year ago to 31-2 and the No. 3 seed in the DII Women's Elite Eight. They set several program records, including most wins in a season and longest winning streak in a season. After losing in the CCAA finals to a very strong Cal State San Marcos team by 12 points, the Toros made sure it didn't happen again, winning the West Region by a margin of 19.3 points per game.
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No. 4 Tampa. The Spartans last loss came way back in 2022 and it was by one basket. Tampa is one shot away from being 34-0 on the season but enter a tough quarterfinal round matchup at 33-1 and winners of 22 in a row. Tampa hosted the South Region tournament for the first time in program history and made it known it was the Spartans' house, winning the three games by an average of 21 points per game. But the Spartans don't need to be home to dominate: They are 10-0 on the road and 2-0 in neutral sites this season.
No. 5 Glenville State. The defending national champs are the five seed, and that almost seems unfair. I've said it 100 times this season, but it is worth saying again because this is a feat that may have never happened before. Head coach Kim Stephens lost her entire starting five from the 2022 national champions and nearly every key role player and still finished 32-2 with the second-best scoring offense in the division and third-most steals (signature Pioneers' stats by the way). You would think a team of fresh faces would need to adapt, but the Pioneers hit the court running and never looked back.
No. 6 Catawba. Welcome to the DII Women's Elite Eight, Catawba. The Indians make their first appearance in program history and what a performance from Lyrik Thorne, the SAC player of the year, to get them here. She scored 33 points in the Southeast Region final, including going 9-for-15 from 3. Catawba, making its third-straight trip to the NCAA tournament this year, is tough defensively and limited its first and second-round opponents to a combined 89 points.
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No. 7 Assumption. The Greyhounds are another team making their DII Women's Elite Eight debut and there is no secret to the Greyhounds success. Assumption led DII women's basketball in scoring defense, allowing 50.8 points per game, which is pretty much what it allowed per game in the East regional (51 points per game exactly). The Greyhounds are tough on shooters allowing just a 32.9 field goal percentage, which is also tops in DII. This should be a very tough showdown as the Bulldogs have the second-best defense remaining, and points will be at a minimum.
No. 8 UT Tyler. The Patriots are the only non-No. 1 seed left standing. To get here, they defeated No. 1 Angelo State by double digits and snuck by three-time champion Lubbock Christian by three in the regional finals. That same Lubbock Christian team won it all in its first year of eligibility from NAIA-to-DII shift and now the Patriots are looking to win it all in just their second season of tournament eligibility (though the Patriots shifted from DIII). This team smothers on defense and will need their balanced scoring attack to keep up with the high-flying Eagles, but stranger things have happened this time of year.