By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the 32-team field for the 23rd annual NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by State Farm. The event will be held for the 17th-straight season – the longest streak of any current championship host – at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, from March 12 – 18. The official championship bracket will be announced via a live announcement at 7 p.m. CST. To view the announcement, click here.
The field consists of 21 automatic berths and 11 at-large selections. Automatic qualification is given to conference regular-season champions, tournament champions or tournament runners-up depending on the league. At-large teams were determined using the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released earlier today.
Top-ranked Saint Francis (Ind.) headlines the field as the only remaining unbeaten team at 33-0. The Cougars, who are the first team to enter the national championship with an unblemished record since Davenport (Mich.) in 2011, are making their 15th all-time appearance. Saint Francis reached the quarterfinal round last season, snapping a streak of two-straight first round exits. The Cougars boast a 24-14 all-time record at the national championship, including a runner-up finish in 1999. Saint Francis received one of the 21 available automatic berths after winning the Crossroads League regular season and tournament titles.
If Saint Francis takes home the banner this season, the Cougars would be the first team since Morningside (Iowa) in 2009 to go unbeaten en route to the title.
Outside of Saint Francis, Davenport enters the national championship as arguably one of the hottest teams in the NAIA. The Panthers have won 26-straight en route to a 31-1 overall record. The Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament champions are making their 10th-straight appearance and have reached the title game in two of the last three seasons. Davenport’s lone loss of the season came at crosstown rival and championship qualifier Cornerstone (Mich.), 83-76, on Nov. 20.
Defending national champion Indiana Wesleyan returns to the field for the 12th-straight year after finishing second to Saint Francis in the Crossroads League title game. The Wildcats are vying to become the fifth team in NAIA Division II women’s basketball history to repeat as national champion, which most recently included Northwestern’s (Iowa) three-straight titles from 2010 – 2012. Indiana Wesleyan, who enters the championship with a 26-7 record, is 23-9 all-time at the event and has reached at least the quarterfinals in four-straight trips.
Perennial power Northwestern comes to Sioux City as the most decorated team in the field. The Red Raiders, who qualified as the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) regular-season – based on the league’s tie-breaker – and tournament champion, own an NAIA championship record 42 wins and five national championships in 13 appearances. GPAC rivals Hastings (Neb.) (2002, 2003, 2006) and Morningside (Iowa) (2004, 2005, 2009), along with Indiana Wesleyan (2007, 2013) are the other squads with at least one national title.
For the second-straight year, the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference placed the most programs in the field of any conference with five squads – Cardinal Stritch (Wis.), Olivet Nazarene (Ill.), Purdue Calumet (Ind.), Roosevelt (Ill.) and Saint Xavier (Ill.).
Eleven teams have made at-least 10 appearances at the national championship, led by College of the Ozarks’ (Mo.) 20 trips. The Bobcats, who qualified as the 10th at-large, own a 31-19 national championship record, including four runner-up finishes (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2012). In addition to College of the Ozarks, Cardinal Stritch (18) and Saint Francis (15) have made 15-or-more appearances.
Ashford (Iowa) is the only team making its first-ever appearance at this year’s national championship. The Saint received the automatic berth out of the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) after knocking off IU Northwest (Ind.), 67-57, in the A.I.I. Tournament final.
Twenty-two teams return from the 2013 field.
NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video streaming company of 17 select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting the first 28 games from Sioux City. An all-tournament pass (28 games) is available for $29.95, while a single day pass can be purchased for $9.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.
For more information on the 2013 State Farm-NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, click here.2014 NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship Qualifiers
|School||Qualification||Record^||Appearances||Last Time||Tour. Record||Titles|
|Ashford (Iowa)||Association of Independent Institutions Tournament Champion||12-20||1||N/A||0-0||-|
|Ave Maria (Fla.)||The Sun Tournament Champion||23-10||2||2012||0-1||-|
|Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||At-Large No. 6||24-6||18||2013||9-17||-|
|College of Saint Mary (Neb.)||Midlands Collegiate Athletic Tournament Champion||26-5||4||2013||1-3||-|
|College of the Ozarks (Mo.)||At-Large No. 10||23-9||20||2013||31-19||-|
|Concordia (Neb.)||At-Large No. 4||25-7||13||2013||18-12||-|
|Cornerstone (Mich.)||At-Large No. 9||22-9||9||2011||9-8||-|
|Davenport (Mich.)||Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Tournament Champion||31-1||10||2013||13-9||-|
|Eastern Oregon||Cascade Collegiate Regular-Season Champion||23-9||8||2013||5-7||-|
|Friends (Kan.)||At-Large No. 7||25-7||6||2013||1-5||-|
|Hastings (Neb.)||At-Large No. 3||26-5||14||2012||31-10||3|
|Huntington (Ind.)||At-Large No. 5||23-8||5||2012||2-4||-|
|Indiana Wesleyan||Crossroads League Tournament Runner-Up||26-7||12||2013||23-9||2|
|Jamestown (N.D.)||At-Large No. 1||26-3||6||2013||3-5||-|
|Mayville State (N.D.)||North Star Athletic Tournament Champion||24-3||2||2013||0-1||-|
|Menlo (Calif.)||California Pacific Tournament Champion||25-5||6||2013||1-5||-|
|Morningside (Iowa)||Great Plains Athletic Tournament Runner-Up||27-6||12||2013||28-8||3|
|Northwestern (Iowa)||Great Plains Athletic Tournament Champion||27-4||13||2013||42-7||5|
|Oklahoma Wesleyan||At-Large No. 8||22-11||2||2013||0-1||-|
|Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Tournament Runner-Up||22-10||3||2013||0-2||-|
|Oregon Tech||Cascade Collegiate Tournament Champion||28-5||2||2005||0-1||-|
|Point Park (Pa.)||Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Tournament Champion||29-4||2||2013||0-2||-|
|Purdue Calumet (Ind.)||Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Tournament Champion||24-6||2||2013||0-1||-|
|Roosevelt (Ill.)||At-Large No. 11||21-10||2||2013||1-1||-|
|Saint Francis (Ind.)||Crossroads League Tournament Champion||33-0||15||2013||24-14||-|
|Saint Xavier (Ill.)||At-Large No. 2||27-5||2||2013||1-1||-|
|Siena Heights (Mich.)||Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Tournament Runner-Up||25-8||2||2013||0-1||-|
|Southwestern (Kan.)||Kansas Collegiate Athletic Regular-Season Champion||28-4||6||2013||1-5||-|
|St. Ambrose (Iowa)||Midwest Collegiate Tournament Champion||26-5||10||2011||7-9||-|
|Tabor (Kan.)||Kansas Collegiate Athletic Tournament Champion||21-10||5||2007||3-4||-|
|Tennessee Wesleyan||Appalachian Athletic Regular-Season Champion||24-4||11||2012||3-10||-|
|Union (Ky.)||Appalachian Athletic Tournament Champion||24-8||5||2012||0-4||-|