Sue Semrau, Florida State coach, has been a big fan of the addition of women to the NCAA Tournament. It was a great opportunity for her Seminoles late-developing team to be part of history, and she is delighted it happened.
Florida State (17-13 years old) will be participating in the inaugural women’s First Four. The NCAA increased the tournament field up to 68 teams.one the few tangible improvements made to address the inequalities last year between men’s and woman’s tournaments.
Since 2011, the First Four has been a mainstay of the NCAA men’s tourney.
Semrau stated that if it had been 64, she would have been very nervous about her program’s chances at reaching its ninth consecutive tournament.
Instead, she will be playing Wednesday and Thursday with the three other at-large First Four participants, Missouri State, DePaul, and Dayton, and four automatic qualifiers in Longwood and Mount St. Mary’s.
This hasn’t always been the case with the women.
During the pandemic-altered events last year, disparities in the women’s and men’s tournaments were brought to light. This led the NCAA to make several adjustments. Women received enhancements that included training equipment, hotel rooms, meals, and expanded tournament fields.
Semrau has been working on equality issues in college football for many years and is happy to see progress.
The coach rhetorically asked about the expanded field for the women.
The four women’s games, unlike the men who play their First Four games in Dayton Ohio, will be played at regional sites where the winner of the first round will be playing.
This means that Florida State will have to travel to Baton Rouge (La.) to face Missouri State. The Seminoles didn’t care much about it, as they seemed unlikely to even be playing in the NCAAs at the time when they were 10-10 in February. They won seven of the last ten to be admitted.
Morgan Jones, Florida State Guard, said that being one of the 68 means a lot and that we will continue to work.
It also means a lot for Longwood.
The Lancers won an automatic bid in the Big South Tournament and are now looking forward to making history as one of the First Four teams.
Rebecca Tillett, Longwood’s coach, said that Farmville, Virginia gave the team a parade in recognition of their victory.
During a telephone interview, she said “I can’t even imagine what it would feel like” to win the NCAA Tournament.
Tillett heard from those who wondered if Longwood and other automatic qualifiers should be included in the First Four.
She said, “Those are great questions.” “But we’re glad to be part of that against an evenly matched group.”
Jeff Dow, Incarnate Word coach, told his players that after the First Four assignment was shown on TV: “You realize that we’re first in the entire tournament?”
Dow stated, “They were excited about it.”
Here’s a look at the First Four Matchups
Teams: Incarnate Word (13-16) vs. Howard (20-9).
Columbia, South Carolina
About Incarnate Word Jaaucklyn Moor leads the team with 17.5 point per game and 42 steals.
Howard: Howard won for the first-time in 21 years the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament. At 12.9 points per game, sophomore Destiny Howell is the leader of the Bison. In the MEAC title match, she scored 25 points for her career best.
Next up: The overall No. 1 seed South Carolina (29-2 in the Greensboro Region
Teams: DePaul (22-10), vs. Dayton (25-2).
Where: Ames (Iowa).
About DePaul The streak of 18 consecutive NCAA berths ended last season and many thought the Blue Demons might get in. Fans can now watch Anesah Morrison, forward, one of the top freshmen in the country, play double doubles and rebound per game.
Up Next: In the Greensboro Region, the winner will face Georgia (20-9)
Teams: Mount St. Mary’s (16-12), vs. Longwood (21-21)
Raleigh, North Carolina
Mount St. Mary’s won the Northeast Conference tournament championship for the second consecutive season. Kendall Bresee, Mount St. Mary’s forward, led the team in assists, blocks, points, rebounds and steals. She averaged 17.4 point per game during the season.
About Longwood: Akila Smith, forward, led the team with 7.8 rebounds per game and 93 blocks. With 16.8 points per game, she was second on the Lancers.
Next up: The winner will face North Carolina State (29-3), which is the top seed in the Bridgeport Region.
Teams: Florida State (17-13) vs. Missouri State (24-7)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
About Florida State Guard Morgan Jones is the leading scorer at Florida State, scoring 14.1 points per game and grabbing 5.7 rebounds.
Missouri State finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference. Abi Jackson is their leader, scoring 13.2 points per game and grabbing 6.9 rebounds per game.
Next up: In the Spokane Region, Winner will face sixth seed Ohio State (23-6).