With the month of March finally upon us, many college basketball fans know that the exciting time of year has arrived where the world turns their attention to a bracket. The Cal Vulcans Women’s Basketball team will begin the journey towards their third national championship in program history, but before that the must go through the PSAC Tournament. All season California as well as the other members of this conference have been battling for seeding in the bracket that awards an automatic qualification to the last team standing. Before we check out the field of competitors, let’s brush over the rules of entry. Six teams from each division earn the right to compete with the top two on each side earning a first round bye from competition. The final four rotates host location, with this season having the championship residing in the gym of an Eastern Conference school. So without any further delay, let’s check out the field.
At the time of this articles’ creation, two conference games remain on 2/27 and 3/2. Five of the six spots in the West have been claimed so far in this order:
1) IUP (17-2) 22-2
2) California (16-3) 22-3
3) Edinboro (14-5) 19-6
4) Seton Hill (10-9) 16-10
5) Pitt-Johnstown (9-11) 13-14
The sixth and final spot is up for grabs between Gannon (8-11) 12-15 and Slippery Rock (8-12) 10-16. Gannon has a winnable conference game on the road at Clarion which will take place Wednesday, and Slippery Rock hosts Salem in a non-conference matchup at home before these two will face off in Slippery Rock on Saturday. Gannon captured the first victory in the season series 75-69 but experiencing the atmosphere at SRU during a big-time game I would have to side with The Rock in that case. SRU will go on to claim the final spot behind the leadership of star Junior Brooke Hinderliter who is averaging a team leading 18.2 points per game and is second on the team with 5.5 rebounds per game. As for the two representatives that will travel east for the final four, I am envisioning IUP and Edinboro.
Despite California having home court advantage against the Fighting Scots in their third matchup of the season, I feel that it won’t do them justice as the Vulcans have struggled to matchup against a team that boasts numerous 1,000-point scorers. It will be a close matchup, but Edinboro will grind out the win on the road in a same style game that the last meeting displayed and will give the defending conference tournament champions a berth into the final four. IUP on the other hand has looked almost flawless minus the two run-ins with California that may have blemished their chances of hosting a regional tournament down the road. This being said I do not see them losing stride as the start building momentum back heading into a potential post season run. In their matchup with Seton Hill who will win their opening round matchup, IUP will secure a victory and head comfortably in the final four round. Now when the script is flipped and the East goes under the microscope, things can become a bit les predictable.
At this point in time once again, only three spots have been claimed in the East:
1) Bloomsburg (12-6) 17-9
2) Kutztown (12-6) 15-11
3) West Chester (9-10) 14-12
The bottom half of the field is still up for grabs, with four teams playing musical chairs for the final three positions. Those teams are Lock Haven (9-10) 14-12, Millersville (9-10) 12-14, Shippensburg (8-10) 12-14 and East Stroudsburg (8-10) 11-14. I believe the last team in will be Shippensburg, who will go up against a WCU team at home who they have already beaten once and a Bloomsburg team on the road who they were narrowly edged by seven points in the first matchup. This being said, here is my projected order of finish:
4) Shippensburg (10-10) 14-14
5) Millersville (10-10) 13-14
6) Lock Haven (9-11) 14-13
As for my representatives that will come from the east, my gut reaction is West Chester and Bloomsburg. Bloom will avenge the regular season ending loss to the Raiders but beating them in the playoffs and earn the right to host the final four at home behind a balanced attack which is led by Junior Alyssa Mack who averages 10.6 PPG and dishes out the rock as well with a team high 59 assists. West Chester still has pieces left in the cabinet left from the Atlantic Region and PSAC Final Four appearance season a year ago, led by Sophomore Destiny Jefferson who paces this Rams squad with 15.9 PPG. IUP will defeat the Golden Rams and Edinboro will avenge an early season loss to Bloomsburg and advance to the final. In the final game, IUP will defeat Edinboro to secure the automatic qualification into the NCAA Atlantic Region Tournament. Check back in the next time for a preview of the NCAA Tournament!