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Host duties, good tests for W. Basketball in NCAAs

Host duties, good tests for W. Basketball in NCAAs

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Division III national playoff bracket

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No. 3-ranked St. Thomas Women's Basketball will play host to three games in a four-team opening weekend pod of the Division III national tournament, next Friday and Saturday at Schoenecker Arena.

St. Thomas (26-1) will open against Ripon (Wis.) (19-8) at 8 p.m., following a 5:30 p.m. clash between No. 17-ranked Illinois Wesleyan (23-4) and Wisconsin Lutheran (26-1).

Friday's winners play at 7 p.m. Saturday, with that victor moving on to the Sweet 16 round.

This is the Tommies' 26th NCAA playoff trip, with an all-time record of 51-25. They secured the program's eighth consecutive MIAC playoff championship on Saturday as they pulled away to win 73-54 over second-seed Augsburg.

St. Thomas has won 16 in a row this season and 23 in a row at Schoenecker Arena since December 2017. The win over Augsburg was No. 74 in a row against MIAC opponents -- the second longest conference win streak in NCAA basketball (all levels, both genders), behind only the Connecticut Huskies.

The Tommie senior class has been a part of 110 wins so far in its era.

Coach Ruth Sinn's Tommies rank first in Division III in 3-point proficiency at 40.3 percent (eight makes per game) and second in field-goal shooting at 50.4 percent. The Toms are 11th in scoring defense at 49.6.

Here's a quick look at the other teams coming to campus:

 

Ripon

The Red Hawks are in the NCAA playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons. They started the winter 0-5 but have come together quickly. They bring a nine-game win streak and victories in 16 of their last 17 games.

Ripon has two seniors and two juniors on a 17-player roster. The Red Hawks are 12-1 at home and 7-7 away from campus.

 

Illinois Wesleyan

The Titans are 16-1 away from campus this season and have won 12 of their last 13 games. They average 77 points a game and convert 31 percent from behind the arc and 74 percent at the foul line.

IWU has four seniors and one junior on a 14-player roster, and start three seniors.

This is IWU's 12th appearance in the NCAA playoffs, and ninth time in 13 seasons. The Titans beat St. Thomas in the 2012 national semifinals en route to winning the national title.

 

Wisconsin Lutheran

This is WLC's 10th appearance in the NCAA playoffs and eighth in the last nine seasons. The Warriors start four seniors and bring a 15-game winning streak.

None of their 27 games have been decided by five or less points. They average 70 points a game while converting 36 percent behind the arc and 73 percent from the line.

They traveled to Schoenecker last March for NCAA tourney play and lost 70-46 to Chicago in the first round.