Women's Club Championship Preview - An Elite Eight In Eerie
The field is set.
Eight teams have outlasted the remainder of the women’s National Club Basketball Asto punch a ticket to the National Championship at Mercyhurst University in Eerie, Pennsylvania.
All that’s left to play for will happen April 22-24, so here’s a look at the teams vying for the national title.
No. 1 Penn State (20-0) Mid Atlantic Regional Champions
The Nittany Lions look unstoppable. Penn State has been the unanimous No. 1 team in the Phenom Elite Top 15 Poll since week three — and it showed why at the Mid Atlantic Regional Tournament.
Back-to-back wins over Montclair State earned the Nittany Lions a berth and the top overall seed. After returning 12 players for this season including Emma Poirier, Julia Muzzatti and Allison Denenberg, Penn State is the favorite to take the title.
No. 2 Boston College (16-0) New England Regional Champions
Don’t sleep on the Eagles. Penn State has been so dominant, Boston College has perhaps flown under the radar. But without a loss to their name, the Eagles have every reason to think they can make a run at the championship.
Boston College got the job done in the opening round of the New England Regional Tournament against UMass and logged a 55-41 victory over fellow tournament team Northeastern to get its automatic bid. Set to face the No. 8 team in the first round, don’t be surprised if the Eagles, led by seniors Grace Lombardi and Lily Kennedy, show out.
No. 3 Syracuse (14-2) North Atlantic Regional Champions
The Orange didn’t have an easy path to their automatic bid. Syracuse had to down SUNY Cortland, another tournament-caliber team, in back-to-back games. They did it, but just barely.
Syracuse’s combined two wins over the Dragons was by three points. Nevertheless, the Orange have been exceptional this season with their only two losses coming at the hands of Penn State. Although Syracuse offers a fair bit of youth, fifth-year seniors Daylan Bonner, Kayla Clark and Sydni Eure are sure to boost them in a tough opening matchup.
No. 4 Kennesaw State (10-1) South Atlantic Regional Champions
The Owls only returned two players this season in Claire Stanjevich and Gabrielle Mills, but a fresh group led by captain Jessie Goodwin ran through the South Atlantic Region. With a well-balanced squad, Kennesaw State gets the chance to play in the very first game of the tournament, taking on the reigning champions in a No. 4-No. 5 duel.
No. 5 Ohio State (14-4) Great Lakes Regional Champions
The Buckeyes were named champions back in 2020 after posting a 22-1-1 record and being recognized as the No. 1 team in the Phenom Elite Top 15 Poll when the championship was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But Ohio State is back and as strong as ever. Though the Buckeyes showed mortality, entering the Great Lakes Regional tournament as the No. 3 seed, convincing upsets over No. 2 Indiana and No. 1 Grand Valley State secured a tournament berth. Bolstered by plenty of veterans like Grace Thien and Kerri Daniel, now Ohio State can make it back-to-back nattys.
No. 6 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUe) (9-1) Mid America Regional Champions
The Cougars qualified for Nationals in 2020 and they’re back for more. After having their way, once again, with the Mid America Region, SIUe gets to show what it can do on the grand stage.
With a dynamic pair of experienced guards in Kelly Cruise and Skyler Schafer, the Cougars will be ones to watch in their opening-round contest with Syracuse.
No. 7 Northeastern (12-4) New England Regional Runner-Ups
A major victory over Fairfield in the New England Regional pushed the Huskies to a third matchup with Boston College on the season. Although it came away unsuccessful yet again, Northeastern has more than proved its ability to hang with the big dogs.
The Huskies were given the unfortunate honor of playing No. 1 Penn State in the opening round due to being from the same region as Boston College at the No. 2 seed. With an experienced core, including returning starters Alexa Knudsen and Lauren Chan, Northeastern will have a chance for the upset.
No. 8 SUNY Cortland (10-4) North Atlantic Regional Runner-Ups
The Red Dragons gave Syracuse quite the scare in both matchups of the North Atlantic Regional Tournament and it was enough to secure their second consecutive Nationals berth.
And Cortland is stacked, the Red Dragons returning four starters in Rachel Tower, Jillian Cannistra, Brianna LaValle and Mackenzie Zajac.
Experience can win tournaments, but Cortland will need to do it from the bottom seed.
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