By Tim Miller
The Cedarville Lady Jackets were ranked sixth in the Midwest Region in the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Regional Rankings that were released today. Cedarville (17-4, 14-4 G-MAC) is the highest ranked team among G-MAC members.
“I think that’s an awesome recognition,” head coach Kari Hoffman said. “I think these ladies have deserved it. We’ve been probably the most consistent team in the G-MAC so far. We need to uphold our end of the deal now to finish out our season.”
Only the top eight teams in each of the eight regions make it to the NCAA Division II National Tournament. The Midwest Region is widely known as one of the most highly contested regions of the eight.
The top-ranked team in the Midwest Region is defending national champions Ashland. The Eagles (24-0) slipped by Cedarville on a buzzer beater on Nov. 11, and the Lady Jackets are the only team to draw within 10 points of Ashland this season. The Eagles are pegged to host the regional tournament as long as they stay the No. 1 seed.
Cedarville would play GLVC leader Southern Indiana (21-2, 13-1 GLVC) in the first round of the national tournament if the season ended today. The common opponents between the two squads are Ohio Dominican, Wisconsin-Parkside, and Indianapolis. The outcomes for each teams can be compared below.
G-MAC members Ursuline, Findlay, and Ohio Dominican are ranked 8-10 in the regional list, with Ursuline being the only team that would make it into the tournament with Cedarville if the season ended today. The Lady Jackets play Ursuline (18-6, 15-3 G-MAC) on Thursday night at the Callan Athletic Center in a game that will carry a lot of weight into next week’s rankings.
“They are extremely talented,” Hoffman said. “They have probably the best player in the country and we were successful up there which has given us confidence for tomorrow. If we play hard and smart, I expect us to win.”
Junior guard Baylee Bennett said the team needs to shake off its lost to Findlay from last night and worry solely about Ursuline.
“I think we’ve just got to focus on this game and this game only,” Bennett said. “We need to leave yesterday’s game behind us and come out hard.”
The Lady Jackets finish the year with three more home games after that against Lake Erie (11-13, 7-11 G-MAC), Davis & Elkins (9-15, 5-13 G-MAC), and Alderson Brouddus (6-15, 4-14 G-MAC).
“I don’t expect those games to be easy at all,” Hoffman said. “All those teams played us tough the first time, so we’ll rest if we can, but I don’t expect there to be a lot of resting time. I’m looking forward to getting past Lake Erie on Saturday so we can just breathe.”
Hoffman said she would love for the Lady Jackets to remain where they are in the rankings to close the season.
“We would love to be six,” Hoffman said. “I think that’s an excellent number that kind of keeps you away from the top seed.”
With four games left to play, Cedarville is closing in on yet another successful season. Even so, Bennett said the team can’t go easy on any of its final three opponents.
“We’ve got to continue to grind,” Bennett said. “There are not let ups in basketball and in the G-MAC and anybody can beat anybody.”
Tim Miller is a sophomore marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, sipping Dunkin Donuts coffee and striving to be the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.