With the official announcement of the 32 teams for the 22nd Annual State Farm-NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship completed, we can now begin to break down the field for the tournament.
Of the 32 teams, 21 are making the trip back to Sioux City, Iowa after playing in the tournament a year ago. While there are many teams that know their way around the Tyson Events Center, there are also a number of schools making their first appearance at the tournament. Mayville State (ND), Oklahoma Wesleyan, Purdue Calumet (IN), Reinhardt (GA), Roosevelt (IL) and Siena Heights (MI) all make their first tournament appearances while Olivet Nazarene (IL) and St. Xavier (IL) are making their first DII appearances after playing in previous DI tournaments.
Of the 32 teams in contention, only three have taken home the hardware before. Great Plains Athletic Conference foes Northwestern (IA) and Morningside (IA) have won five and three titles respectively. Indiana Wesleyan is the only other team in the tournament to have won it all, winning back in 2007. College of the Ozarks (MO) has come close to winning the Championship in years past, but has never done so, losing in the Championship Game four times, including last year against Northwestern.
The Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference boasts the most bids with five teams making the field. Perennial attendee Cardinal Stritch (WI) will make its 17th appearance at NAIA Tournament while the rest of the teams from the Chicagoland, Purdue Calumet, Roosevelt, Olivet Nazarene and St. Xavier, are all incoming freshmen to the tournament.
While the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference has the most representatives, the Great Plains Athletic Conference will have four teams represented at the tournament. Briar Cliff (IA), Concordia (NE), Morningside and Northwestern represent the hard-hitting GPAC which has claimed 11 of the last 12 National Titles and has currently won 5 straight. Northwestern also looks to continue its streak of titles, as they have won three straight championships.
A wide variety of mascots will be on display in Sioux City as there are 28 different mascots at the tournament. The only repeats are Bobcats (College of the Ozarks, St. Thomas (FL)), Vikings (Grand View (IA), Valley City State (ND)), Eagles (Oklahoma Wesleyan, Reinhardt (GA)), and Cougars (St. Francis (IN), St. Xavier (IL)).