No. 8-ranked St. Thomas Women's Basketball (25-2) will play host to a competitive four-team pod this weekend at Schoenecker Arena.
The Tommies take an 18-game win streak into Friday's 8 p.m., clash against Chapman (Calif.) (23-4). The 5:30 game here pits No. 10-ranked Chicago (23-2) against Wisconsin Lutheran (24-2).
Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for students each day. Friday's winners play Saturday at 7 p.m., with that winner advancing to the Sweet Sixteen round March 9.
St. Thomas is in the NCAA playoffs for the 25th time, all in the last 35 years, with a 49-24 all-time record. Coach Ruth Sinn's team went 31-1 and tied for third in the nation last year. After a 1-1 start this season, the Tommies have won 24 of their last 25. This year's Tommie team has a 6-1 record against four playoff-bound, 20-win teams. The Toms lost their second game of the season to No. 5-ranked Bowdoin but beat George Fox; won both times against St. Ben's; and went 3-0 vs. Gustavus.
St. Thomas, which allows under 53 points a game, ranks in the top eight nationally in all three shooting categories -- field-goal (46.8%), free-throw (76.6%) and 3-point field goal proficiency (38.3%).
Of the 16 weekend host sites, St. Thomas' group might have the best parity of all. It's the lone site with two squads nationally ranked in the top 10. Plus the four teams' 11 combined losses is tied for the fewest defeats among all 16 groupings.
Chapman (17-10 last season) has won 17 of its last 18 games in 2017-18 and survived Saturday's double-overtime clash with 23-win Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to get its conference automatic berth. Three of the Panthers' defeats have come against 20-win teams, including a 15-point loss to No. 1-ranked Amherst.
Chicago (19-8 last season) has won 21 in a row after a 2-2 start, and none of its last 17 opponents have come within five or less points.
Wisconsin Lutheran (16-10 last season) has won 24 of its last 26 games.
Three MIAC women's teams made the 64-team Division III field: St. Thomas, St. Ben's and Gustavus.
Three MIAC men's teams made that 64-team field: St. John's, St. Olaf and Augsburg.
A different player has led the Tommies in scoring in each of the last four contests.
Over the last nine seasons, St. Thomas has won eight of nine conference playoff championships and five of nine regular-season crowns.