Back in late May, we found out that Marquette women’s basketball would be participating in the 2018 Preseason WNIT. Now, as the entire bracket has been released, we now know that the Golden Eagles will be facing Montana State in the first round of the tournament.
That game will be on Friday, November 9th, and it will be played at the McGuire Center on Marquette’s campus. That should make it the season opener for the Golden Eagles as well, as I believe that women’s hoops did not pick up the “let’s start on Tuesday” rule that the men’s side of the aisle did. The winner of the MU/MSU game will advance to a second round game on Sunday, November 11th against the winner of Northern Iowa vs Delaware, which will be played at Northern Iowa. I would presume that as long as Marquette keeps winning, they’ll keep hosting.
The full bracket for the 2018 Preseason @WomensNIT has been released! #muwbb will host Montanta State in the first round on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 CT. Mark your calendars! https://t.co/60bCyxuSUR pic.twitter.com/vSm47r0DKW— Marquette WBB (@MarquetteWBB) June 5, 2018
I do have a tiny question about the bracketing for this event. As mentioned in our article about the WNIT announcement, Marquette, Miami, and Nicholls State are the only three 2017 NCAA tournament teams in the 2018 WNIT field. With that being the case, and nothing against Nicholls State, it would seem that Marquette and Miami are your two favorites. It’s weird that they’re both on the same side of the bracket, thus creating a situation where one of the semifinal games would in fact actually be between the Golden Eagles and the Hurricanes. It’s not like it’s an East Coast/West Coast thing to simplify the quick travel turnarounds. For example, if Marquette and Northern Iowa both win as they would be favored to do, UNI is going to have to hop on a bus right after their game on the 9th in order to play at Marquette on the 11th.
No, you’ve got Niagara, Yale, Auburn, and Nicholls State on the opposite side of the bracket from Marquette and Miami, so regionality is not a concern here. From a glance here, it seems like the organizers are setting up for an Iowa State/Auburn semifinal on that side of the bracket as both are hosting in the first round...... except both squads finished under .500 last year. Heck, having Niagara going to Iowa State in the first round is kind of goofyballs when Miami is hosting Stephen F. Austin. Just flip the Cyclones and the Hurricanes, and you’d have a fairly bracketed event here.
Montana State is coming off of a 16-15 season where they went 9-9 in the Big Sky conference and wrapped up their season with a loss in the conference tournament quarterfinals. That was a step back for the Bobcats after winning at least 21 games in the previous two seasons. Tricia Binford has been the coach since 2005-06, which is a neat coincidence, as that was the last time that Marquette faced MSU. Jasmine McCullough went for 19 points and four rebounds to lead the Golden Eagles to a 76-48 victory in the fourth game of the year for MU. Senior point guard Carolyn Kieger chipped in seven points, a rebound, a game high seven assists, and three steals. That win evened MU’s record against MSU at 1-1, as the Bobcats had picked up a 71-68 victory in December of 1994.
Montana State loses their top two scorers from last season to graduation, but Madeline Smith (10.2) and Oliana Squires (10.2) both averaged double digits and weren’t that far off Hannah Caudill’s team high mark of 11.4 points per game. Smith was also the team’s best rebounder, with the 6’2” forward hauling in 7.5 caroms per game last year. The play of Squires will be important for MSU, as she was second on the team in assists to the now departed Caudill.