By ANDY WOLF
The hopes of winning a league title came crashing down for the University of Findlay women’s basketball team on Saturday.
Hillsdale College not only ruined the opportunity, but stole an NCAA tournament bid by defeating the Oilers 81-70 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference tournament final.
Still, Findlay has reason to be hopeful to earn an at-large bid in the field of 64 for the Division II tournament.
The Oilers (22-7) sat eighth in the most recent regional poll.
So who’s in and who’s out?
That’s for the committee decide and every year it becomes tougher to predict.
I won’t try and do that. But I will examine how each team stacks up with one another.
A lot of weight seems to be put on the results of the conference tournaments with a deep run or an early exit often making or breaking a team.
The committee does consider strength-of-schedule (SOS), in-region schedule, last 10 games and overall/in-region record.
What’s less interesting and won’t be examined in this article is the top five teams in the region: 1) Ashland, 2) Drury, 3) Southern Indiana, 4) Michigan Tech and 5) Grand Valley State.
All appear to be “in” with a strong regular season slate or en route to league titles — Drury and Southern Indiana will meet in today’s GLVC title game and the loser has nothing to be ashamed of.
Meanwhile, GVSU (25-5) will get its third shot at upsetting No. 1 Ashland (30-0) in the GLIAC title game today as well, having narrowling done so on Feb. 15 (96-90 OT).
Regardless of the outcome, the region is going to Ashland and rightfully so.
That leaves teams 6-10 in the rankings and a few others “on the cusp” for two berths.
Those teams are: Cedarville, Lewis, Findlay, Wayne State, Walsh, and Missouri St. Louis.
Cedarville (24-6) and Lewis (23-7) were both “in” via the last regional ranking at sixth and seventh.
Yet, both fell in their respective league tournament semifinals.
Other contenders in Wayne State and Walsh (21-10), ninth and 10th in the regional polls, didn’t perform strongly in their league tournaments..
Walsh won its opener but fell handily to Findlay in the GMAC semis while Wayne State lost its opener against Northwood.
Wayne State does hold a nonleague win over UF on a neutral court. Yet, logic would suggest if that mattered, the two schools would be flip-flopped in the regional rankings.
Both Walsh and Wayne State are likely out.
Not regionally ranked but with a strong case is Missouri-St. Louis (21-6) out of the GLVC.
Winners of their last 14 in a row, the Tritons suffered a 69-66 defeat to Drury in the GLVC semis.
What doesn’t help their case is a sub-.500 SOS (.473) entering the league tournaments.
Yes, beating Bellarmine (16-12) in the tournament since and playing Drury boosted it some, but largely, every team is facing a “winning” team come postseason time.
Findlay, Cedarville and Lewis are all above .540.
It’s tough to rule out Missouri-St. Louis out just yet.
21-6 is 21-6.
And the Tritons do have a 66-63 road win over Lewis in their last 10 games.
It remains to be seen if making the GLVC semis was enough for Lewis to stay in the top eight.
If it was enough for Lewis, would it be enough for Cedarville as well, bumping the Oilers out of eighth?
Findlay’s extra win over Walsh likely pulled it closer to Cedarville because Walsh was previously ranked. Plus the Oilers swept the Yellow Jackets 2-0 in the season series including a double overtime road win.
What has to be noted for Cedarville is playing and losing to Ashland at the buzzer in Cedarville.
Scheduling up in nonleague play is one thing. Getting a good nonleague win is another.
But the Yellow Jackets did top Central State — 20-5 overall and eight-ranked in the South region.
Findlay’s best nonconference Division II win is over a 16-13 Gannon team from the PSAC.
Lewis bested Hillsdale 91-80 in its season opener and Northern Michigan (15-14, GLIAC) before falling to Northwood (17-11, GLIAC).
Cedarville, Findlay and Lewis are all 7-3 in their last 10 games. Throw that point out the window.
It all comes back to the argument of finding any piece of statistic to support or refute an argument.
With all that said, there’s certainly plenty of reason to tune in Sunday night and see how everything shakes out.
Women’s Basketball: UF’s tourney fate is up in the air
By ANDY WOLF