KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Bracket) The 21st annual State Farm-NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship tips off Wednesday when the first of 31 tournament games gets underway at 8:30 a.m. CST. The last two teams standing will meet in the championship game on March 13 at 8 p.m. CST and will be televised live nationally on CBS Sports Network.
For the 15th-straight season, the national championship will be held in Sioux City, Iowa, at the Tyson Events Center. The arena has been especially kind to Northwestern (Iowa), which has won all four of its national championships at the venue. Led by Great Plains Athletic Conference Player of the Year Kendra De Jong (19.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg), the Red Raiders are returning to the national championship for a seventh-consecutive season. The two-time defending champs finished the regular season with a 23-7 overall record. Northwestern will take on Indiana Southeast at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
Indiana Wesleyan, which has held the No. 1 ranking for 11 weeks in a row, draws Menlo (Calif.), the California Pacific Conference Tournament champion, in Wednesday's first round action. The Wildcats own one national championship having won the banner in 2007 under current head coach Steve Brooks. Indiana Wesleyan will lean on senior center Krystal Stoneking who averages 17.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
College of the Ozarks (Mo.) will make its 11th-straight national championship appearance and all-time best 18th overall. The third-ranked Bobcats will enter their Thursday game against Valley City State (N.D.) with the nation's longest active winning streak at 20. Junior center Morgan Smith (19.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg) powered College of the Ozarks to a perfect 14-0 Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference mark.
A total of ten programs from this year's field have made 10 or more trips to the national championship. Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) and Sterling (Kan.) follow College of the Ozarks with the second-most appearances at 16 apiece. Meanwhile, Northwestern boasts the most national championships among all NAIA schools with four. Hastings (Neb.) (3), Indiana Wesleyan (1) and Morningside (Iowa) (3) are the only other schools in this year's 32-team field with national titles.
Briar Cliff (Iowa) finished the regular season as the nation's highest scoring squad. The Chargers pour in 86.1 points per contest and have reached 100 points or more on five occasions. Indiana Wesleyan ranks first in scoring defense having limited opponents to an average of 49.3 points in 33 games. Daemen (N.Y.) also has one of the NAIA's top defenses, ranking third in points allowed (51.6) and first in both field goal percentage defense (.305) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.231).
Grand View (Iowa) possesses the tournament's top individual scorer in senior Jennifer Jorgensen whose 23.5 points per game ranks second nationally behind only Cal Maritime's Alexsis Brown (25.1). The Viking senior is also in the top 10 in rebounding at 10.3 per game, while Indiana Southeast's Megan Murphy leads the nation with 11.3 boards per contest. Stoneking is tops in field goal percentage (.611) and Corban's (Ore.) Emily Tsugawa is the nation's assists leader with 6.5 per game.
Ave Maria (Fla.), Cal State San Marcos and Point Park (Pa.) are all making their first appearances at the national championship. Concordia (Mich.), Corban, Friends (Kan.), St. Thomas (Fla.), Union (Ky.) and Valley City State have each made prior appearances but are still looking for their first tournament victories.
NeuLion is the NAIA's Digital Media Partner and official video-streaming company of 10 select NAIA National Championship events. The first 30 games from Sioux City, Iowa, will be available via live video stream for $29.95 and any single day can be purchased for $9.95. Also, one can purchase the all-tournament package of all four basketball tournaments for $49.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here
To view live statistics throughout the tournament, click here