STI’s Guide to the Women’s Basketball Season

STI’s Guide to the Women’s Basketball Season

Key Dates

  • Beginning of Regular Season – Friday, Nov. 10, 2017
  • Selection Monday - Monday, March 12, 2018:  Announcement of the 2018 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship bracket and Women’s Basketball Invitational Bracket
  • WBI Postseason Tournament Begins - Wednesday and Thursday, March 14 and 15, 2018
  • NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds –March 16-19, 2018, 16 non-predetermined campus sites
  • Albany Regional - March 23-26, Times Union Center, Albany, New York (Hosts: MAAC)
  • Kansas City Regional - March 23-26, Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri (Host: Big 12)
  • Lexington Regional - March 23-26, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky (Host: Kentucky)
  • Spokane Regional - March 23-26, Veterans Memorial Arena, Spokane, Washington (Host: Idaho)
  • NCAA Final Four – March 30 and April 1, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio (Host: Ohio State)

Under the Radar Teams to Watch

Buffalo

Under sixth-year head coach Felisha Legette-Jack, Buffalo has undergone a drastic transformation. For the past four seasons, Buffalo has had a winning recording and finished 2016-17 at 22-10. Coaches around the Mid-American Conference have noticed and voted to put the Bulls in the first placed spot in the conference’s preseason poll for the MAC East Division.

Senior point guard Stephanie Reid earned a spot on the preseason All-MAC East squad for the second straight season. Last season she set the program record for assists and was 7th in the NCAA for assists per game.

UB returns four of their five starters from last season. UMass transfer, guard Cierra Dillard, who sat out last season, will add to the team’s arsenal for 2017-18.

After opening the season with two games including a contest against Delaware, the Bulls head to Dayton Beach for the relocated San Juan Shootout for two tough games. Buffalo is set to face Nebraska and Clemson during the tournament. Other notable teams on the Bulls’ non-conference schedule include Arizona State, St. Bonaventure, Niagara and St. John’s.

LSU

While LSU has had some ups and downs over the past few years due to injuries to key players and other issues, head coach Nikki Fargas has managed keep the team performing at a high level. Last season the Lady Tigers finished 20-12 overall and 8-8 in SEC play. LSU returns three starters including SEC Defensive Player of the Year, senior guard Raigyne Moncrief. She is also the squad’s top returning scorer.

The team’s other returning starters are junior guard Chloe Jackson and sophomore forward Ayana Mitchell. Jackson averaged 13.1 points per game and dished out 67 assists last season. Mitchell was the team’s best shooter with a 59.7 percentage from the field and averaged 5.4 rebounds per game.

LSU starts the season on a challenging note facing South Florida followed by three more contests before the team travels to Las Vegas for the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout. The Lady Tigers will face Big 12 power Texas and Saint Louis, a team ranked second in the A-10 preseason poll.

Rice

Rice head coach Tina Langley wasted no time in turning the team around after taking the helm two seasons ago. In her second season, the team won the WBI championship, the team’s first-ever postseason title and finished the year with 22 wins, including a school record 13 home victories.

After the season, the team made a splash by signing a transfer from Oklahoma, 6-9 center Nancy Mulkey.

Rice returns three prolific guards from last season, Nicole Iademarco, Wendy Knight, and Shani Rainey. In addition, two transfers from Pepperdine are eligible to play this season for the Owls, sisters Erica and Olivia Oguwmike, younger siblings of WNBA stars Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike.

Rice begins the season on the road in Arizona with matchups against Grand Canyon and Northern Arizona. The schedule also includes games against Little Rock, Kansas and Texas A&M.

Saint Louis

Last season Saint Louis finished 25-9, the second consecutive the team had at least 25 wins. The Billikens made it to the postseason, falling in the second round of the WNIT. This season, A-10 Player of the Year Jackie Kemph returns for SLU and other starters, guard Jordyn Frantz and forward Jenny Vliet.

The Billikens landed at second place in the A-10’s preseason women’s basketball poll. Kemph and Frantz were selected to the preseason All-Conference first and third teams, respectively.

Head coach Lisa Stone enters the season just seven victories shy of reaching 600 for her career.

SLU begins the season with a string of five games before heading to the South Point Shootout. Opponents at the tournament include Cleveland State and LSU. The team finishes out the non-conference slate with games against tough foes including Vanderbilt, Little Rock, Washington State, and Missouri.

Abilene Christian

After a four-year transition from Division II, Abilene Christian enters the season eligible to compete for all Division I NCAA and Southland Conference postseason tournaments for the first time. Even before making the transition, ACU was making a splash in Division l. While unable to compete in the conference tournament, the team won the regular-season Southland Conference title for two seasons during the transition.

This season’s team is a young-ish squad with just two seniors. However, sixth-year head coach Julie Goodenough will look to sophomore point guard Breanna Wright and several other returners to help the team strive for a postseason run. ACU has five newcomers as well.

After starting the season with a slate that includes Arkansas and Florida Gulf Coast, the Wildcats travel to Las Vegas for the Holiday Hoops Classic in late December. ACU’s matchups at the tournament include games against Radford and Old Dominion.

Non-conference Games You Can’t Miss During Opening Weekend

TV/Streaming listed if available, all times Eastern

Friday, Nov. 10

  • Western Kentucky vs. Missouri, 3:30 p.m.
  • Hampton vs. North Carolina, 3:30 p.m., ACC Network Extra
  • LSU vs. South Florida, 5:30 p.m.
  • Stanford vs. Ohio State, 6 p.m., BTN
  • Middle Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt, 7 p.m., SEC+
  • Quinnipiac vs. Iowa, 7 p.m.
  • Albany vs. Maryland, 7 p.m., BTN Plus
  • Rutgers vs. James Madison, 7:30 p.m.
  • Purdue vs. Central Michigan, 7:30 p.m., ESPN3
  • Saint Mary’s vs. California, 8 p.m.
  • Virginia vs. Mississippi State, 9 p.m., SEC Network+
  • Washington State vs. UC Davis, 10 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 11

  • Robert Morris vs. Michigan State, TBA
  • Chattanooga vs. Green Bay, 1 p.m., ESPN3
  • New Hampshire vs. Xavier, 5 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 12

  • Stanford vs. Connecticut, 1:30 p.m., ESPN
  • Colorado vs. North Carolina, 2 p.m.
  • Seton Hall vs. Wake Forest, 2 p.m.
  • South Dakota State vs. George Washington, 2 p.m., RaiseHigh Live
  • Louisville vs. Ohio State, 4 p.m. ET, ESPNU
  • Washington State vs. Saint Mary’s, 4 p.m. 

Tournament Watch

San Juan Shootout

  • When: Nov. 23 – 24, 2017
  • Where: Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Teams: Coastal Carolina, North Texas, Buffalo, Nebraska, Detroit, Clemson

South Point Shootout

  • When: Nov. 24 – 26, 2017
  • Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Teams: Washington, Creighton, UCLA, Kansas State, LSU, Texas, Penn State, Louisiana Tech, Cleveland State, Saint Louis, Louisiana, Niagara

Holiday Hoops Classic

  • When: Dec. 21-22, 2017
  • Where: Las Vegas, Nevada