WBB: March Madness threepeats at Reed Arena

Courtney Walker and the Ags are hosting 2 rounds of March Madness - Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Fightin' Texas Aggie Women's Bouncy Ball team got the expected 3 seed on Selection Monday. The Ags welcome an NCAA subregional for the third straight year starting next Sunday when Gonzaga plays James Madison at 4:30 on Sunday. The Ags take on North Dakota in the nightcap.

The pre-selection analysis has had the #15/14 Ags as a 3 seed, with some small possibility of dropping to a 4. As a host site, A&M would be playing at Reed either way, so for A&M fans the major suspense was in who would be coming to play in College Station and what the overall path would be if we get out of the first weekend without being upset (which happened last year).

Up Next: North Dakota

The committee sent the Big Sky champion N. Dakota no-names to College Station as a 14 seed. North Dakota used to be called the Fighting Sioux, but dropped the nickname/mascot despite at least one group of actual North Dakota Sioux suing to keep the name. The N. Dakotans are prohibited from picking another mascot until 2015. N. Dakota has historically been a pretty good mid-major Women's Bouncy Ball program. They have 3 National Championships to our 1, and they've made the Elite 8 as recently as 2007. Of course, the reason you don't remember that, aside from not being a WBB fan, is that it was in Division II. The Fighting Flickertails (the pre-1930 nickname) have missed the tourney since returning to Div I play in 2008, however, and were picked in the preseason to be a bottom feeder in the Big Sky.

But led by Big Sky player of the year Madi Buck, a 6-0 Senior Forward, N. Dakota surprised the pundits and won both the regular season and the conference tourney. In the conference final, the Nodaks started:

  • Madi Buck: 6-0 Sr F. Leading scorer at 15.8 ppg, she also pulls down 7.2 rebounds/game
  • Mia Loyd: 5-11 So F. At 13.8 ppg Loyd leads the team in rebounding and was the heroine of the Big Sky semis
  • Allyssa Wall 6-4 Sr C. Leads the team in blocks with 52. Contributing 6.0 ppg and 5.7 rpg.
  • Leah Szabia 5-9 Fr G. 7.9 ppg. 2.8 assists/game.
  • Kelsey Knox 5-7 So G. I think she's the PG based on her team-leading 3.5 assists/game
3 players off the bench are averaging 20+ minutes/game, so we should see others on the floor a lot.  Makallah Dyer, a 5-9 So G is averaging 9.3 ppg, but has led the NoDaks in scoring in four games, including a 29 point performance vs Sacramento State.  The media guide for N. Dakota says that they rarely play zone. They don't seem to be excessive at shooting 3s. The Nodaks average 69.7 ppg and give up 63.6. This got them an overall record of 22-9 (15-4 in conference). The 4 OOC losses came vs Iowa State, N. Iowa, Minnesota, and Iowa.

This will be the first time the Aggie Women will have played any team with Dakota anywhere in their name. Phil Jackson ('67) is a notable alum of N. Dakota.

#6 Gonzaga vs #11 James Madison

The Zags are 18/16 in the polls while JMU is receiving votes in both. Swish Appeal "Dance Card" quick profiles of

  • JMU. Colonial champs. Kirby Burkholder, a 6-0 Senior Guard got a shout out in the ESPN analysis of possible upsets. Burkholder had a double-double with 11 points and 22 rebounds in the CAA semis.
  • Gonzaga. Gonzaga is located in Spokane, so Seattle is not really their home court. This meant the NCAA was sending the Zags on the road no matter where they went. But I was expecting Seattle, site of our early exit against them in 2010.

Chalk would have the Zags advance for Tuesday's game against the Ags. More on this later once the Sunday results are in.

Overall look at the bracket

The Ags hypothetical path to the final four would involve winning at home in the first two rounds, and then going to Lincoln for the regionals. After upsetting Duke in the Sweet 16, and pulling an even bigger upset vs UConn in the E8, the Ags would be in the final four. Some A&M fans might be concerned about being in UConn's bracket.  But if the Ags can't get past the S16, it's irrelevant who they would face in the E8. The above is assuming the Blue Devils and Huskies don't go out in earlier upsets. Both Duke and UConn are hosting the first two rounds and upsets are very unlikely. The Devils are more likely to get knocked off, because of injuries in addition to the lower seed and UConn's apparent invincibility.

The SEC did very well with regular season and tourney champs S. Carolina and Tennessee getting the two up for grabs 1 seeds after undefeated UConn and Notre Dame took the obvious 1 seeds.  The Ags and Kentucky both got 3 seeds. LSU is hosting as an 8 seed (thanks to m(Ag) for pointing out that I missed the Swamp Kitties in the comments). Georgia and Vandy got 8s. Florida got an 11.

The big story in the post-selection analysis was the ripple effect of giving the Lady Gamecocks a 1 seed. This knocked Stanford to a 2 seed. Louisville, which had an argument for being a 1, dropped all the way to a 3. But Stanford and Louisville are hosting regionals.

BTHO the N. Dakota Fighting not-Sioux

Sunday night. 7PM CDT (depending on the previous game) ESPN2

Come out to Reed and see it live!
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