After a standout week, Northwestern women’s basketball continues to make waves, with consensus surrounding NU as NCAA Tournament Regional hosts beginning to settle. The ‘Cats (19-3, 9-2 B1G) also jumped two spots to 21st in the nation in the AP Poll earlier this week, the team’s highest rank all season.
Last Thursday, in their most crucial matchup of the past week, Northwestern defeated Michigan 81-73 in a hard-fought battle. The Wolverines then went on to defeat No. 20 Iowa — only the second Big Ten loss for the Hawkeyes this season — proving the magnitude of Northwestern’s win over them by doing so.
The ‘Cats then destroyed the Penn State Nittany Lions for the second time in just over two weeks, winning by a margin of 23 behind standout performances from Veronica Burton, Lindsey Pulliam and Abi Scheid.
Their solid performances this week earned them a share of the top spot in the Big Ten, drawing even with both Iowa and Maryland. With the two teams slated to play each other in just over a week, and the Terrapins traveling to Bloomington to face off with fourth-place Indiana tomorrow, opportunities for continued upward movement abound.
This week, the experts unanimously projected Northwestern to be a four-seed. Here is what they each had to say.
NCAA’s Midseason Top 16: No. 16/No. 4 Seed
For the second consecutive year, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament selection committee released their first iteration of midseason top 16 teams on the first Monday of February, slotting Northwestern in at no. 16. Though the margin is clearly slim, that would be enough to earn the Wildcats a 4-seed and the ability to host the first two rounds should it hold up.
Northwestern was one of three Big Ten teams to earn a spot, alongside No. 8 Maryland and No. 15 Iowa. They would compete in the Midwest Region and, potentially, head to Fort Wayne in the Sweet 16.
ESPN’s Charlie Creme: No. 4 Seed
Northwestern remains in a similar position as a four-seed in Creme’s predictions, but this week, he also picked the ‘Cats to win the Big Ten and earn an automatic bid. Despite placing Maryland as a two-seed, Creme still sees Northwestern stealing the Big Ten Tournament title.
According to his bracket, Northwestern will host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Evanston, facing off against 13-seed Stony Brook in the first round.
FanSided’s Russell Steinberg: No. 4 Seed
Steinberg also ranked Northwestern as a four-seed again this week, having them hosting 13-seed St. Johns in Evanston. He placed them in the Fort Wayne (Midwest) region as well.
RealTimeRPI.com: No. 4 Seed
To round out the experts, RealTimeRPI.com projected Northwestern to be a four-seed too. They would face off against 13-seed Troy in the first round.
The Wildcats will resume Big Ten play following their bye week against Michigan State at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Monday at 8:00 p.m.