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Softball: Breaking down the Evanston Regional

The No. 16 seed Wildcats will start the NCAA Tournament at home for the first time in over a decade.

Northwestern Softball

After yet another heartbreaking loss to Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern softball (43-10) was quickly greeted by some great news. For the first time since 2008, Northwestern secured one of the top-16 seeds and will host a regional, welcoming Detroit Mercy, Louisville and Southern Illinois to Evanston this weekend for the first round of the NCAA tournament.

As the No. 16 seed, Northwestern is in a tough spot in the bracket with the potential of facing No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the Super Regionals, but the Wildcats lucked out with a good shot of commanding the first round in their region. Here’s the full schedule and bracket for the double elimination tournament set to take place at Sharon J. Drysdale Field over the weekend:

via ncaa.com

First, the Wildcats will face Detroit Mercy, who finished 31-26 overall and won its first Horizon League title since 1992. For the Titans, this has been a breakout year, coming hot on the heels of 2018’s 14-30 finish. While the Titans are on a roll, the Wildcats carry more talent and should be able to take care of business.

On the other side of the bracket, Louisville will face off against Southern Illinois. The Wildcats faced Louisville back in February and swept the series, beating the Cardinals 1-0, 9-8 and 4-2. The Cardinals finished 33-21 overall and were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament by UNC.

Finally, the Salukis of Southern Illinois finished 33-13 overall. Heading into the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, they held the No. 2 seed, guaranteeing them a bye until the quarterfinals. To their shock, they were upset by Northern Iowa. But SIU, somewhat controversially, snuck into the tournament as an at-large with one of the final four bids.

Past the first round, Northwestern is looking to face the winner of the region with No. 1 seed Oklahoma who should have little trouble getting past UMBC, Notre Dame and Wisconsin in the Norman regional. To the Wildcats’ advantage, they have already faced three of the four potential opponents during the regular season. But they cannot look past the first round.

The Wildcats advanced to the Super Regionals the last time they hosted a regional back in 2008 as the No. 11 seed before ultimately falling to Arizona State. NU hasn’t made it past the opening round since then.

The Wildcats will host Detroit Mercy at home on Friday at 2:30 to kick off the tournament. The game will be carried live via some ESPN channel, broadcast team and exact TV info TBD.