By: Kelly Shipp
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – For just the second time in league history, two teams from The Summit League will be dancing in March as both South Dakota State and South Dakota have earned spots in the field of 64 in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits (26-6) earned The Summit League's automatic bid into the field by winning The Summit League tournament championship back on March 12. The Jacks will be the No. 6 seed and will face off against No. 11 Quinnipiac on Saturday, March 23 at 10 a.m. CT in Syracuse, N.Y. on the campus of Syracuse University. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
The University of South Dakota (28-5) earned an at-large berth into the field of 64, becoming just the second school in league history to earn an at-large bid. The Yotes will be the No. 8 seed and will face off against No. 9 Clemson on Friday, March 22 at 6 p.m. CT in Starkville, M.S. on the campus of Mississippi State. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
"This is another signature moment in our league's history," said The Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple. "Securing two berths into the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament is an extraordinary achievement. We are extremely proud of the players, the coaches, and the administrations from both South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota. We've seen their outstanding level of basketball all season and now we're excited for them to display that on the national scene."
South Dakota State will be making its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and ninth overall in the last 11 seasons, the most in Summit League history. The Jacks' No. 6 seed is the highest seed a Summit League squad has earned in the NCAA Tournament. The previous high was back in 2009 when SDSU earned the No. 7 seed and defeated No. 10 TCU, 90-55. South Dakota State's, and The Summit League's, last NCAA Tournament victory came in 2016 when No. 12 SDSU upset No. 5 Miami, 74-71. The winner of SDSU and Quinnipiac will play either No. 3 Syracuse or No. 14 Fordham on Monday, March 25.
South Dakota earned the No. 8 seed in the 2019 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. The Yotes join the 1994 squad from Northern Illinois as the only schools from The Summit League, then the Mid-Continent Conference, to earn an at-large bid into the national tournament. USD is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. The Yotes first appearance came in 2014 as a No. 15 seed. This is just the second time in league history that a team has earned the No. 8 seed, with the last No. 8 seed being SDSU in 2018. The winner of USD and Clemson will play either No. 1 Mississippi State or No. 16 Southern University on Sunday, March 24.
Joining South Dakota State and South Dakota in the postseason will be the University of Denver (17-13) who earned an automatic bid into the Women's National Invitational Tournament. Denver earned The Summit League's automatic bid based on their third-place finish in the league standings and being the No. 3 seed in The Summit League Championship. This is just the second time in program history that Denver has earned a bid into the WNIT. Denver will travel to Albuquerque, N.M. to take on the University of New Mexico Lobos. The game is scheduled for Thursday, March 21. Game time for the Pioneers and Lobos will be announced by WNIT officials on Thursday night.