FEAST WEEK~! actually started last weekend, and that included the first ever women’s basketball version of the Battle 4 Atlantis. The first ever men’s tournament down in the Bahamas was held back in 2011, but they didn’t get around to hosting a women’s eight team event until this year. The championship game came down to #1 ranked South Carolina against #2 UConn, and that’s some must watch basketball television.
Thank goodness I was watching the game, because along the way, ESPN debuted the field for the 2022 women’s basketball tournament..... and yes, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles will be in the group of eight.
While that’s pretty cool that the Golden Eagles are getting involved in what has to be the immediate champ as the most prominent women’s basketball FEAST WEEK~! event even after just one year, the fact of the matter is that Marquette is going to be hard up to come away with the title next November.
Here’s a brief look at the recent to recent-ish history for each of the other seven squads involved:
Gonzaga Bulldogs: Five straight WCC regular season titles and 16 of the last 17; four straight NCAA tournament appearances and 11 of the last 12; four Sweet 16s since 2010, Elite Eight in 2011
Louisville Cardinals: Four straight ACC regular season titles; 10 straight NCAA tournament appearances and 15 of the last 16; four straight Sweet 16s and 10 since 2008; Three straight Elite Eights, two Final Fours since 2013.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: A major women’s basketball power for the first decade of this century with eight Sweet 16s between 1998 and 2009
South Dakota State: Two of the last three Summit League regular season titles; a run of nine Summit League tournament titles between 2009 and 2019; their first ever Division 1 Sweet 16 appearance in 2019
Tennessee Volunteers: Not winning an SEC title, regular season or tournament, since 2015 counts as a massive dry spell; haven’t missed an NCAA tournament ever, had a string of seven straight Sweet 16s snapped in 2016
Texas Longhorns: Currently on a streak of six straight NCAA tournaments, five Sweet 16s since 2015; coming off their third Elite Eight since 2003,
UCLA Bruins: Five straight NCAA tournaments, had a streak of four straight Sweet 16s snapped in March 2021
So, yeah, Marquette’s the only team in this entire field that has never been in the Sweet 16 at all ever. Coming away from this with a 1-2 record might be an uphill battle.
The bummer of all of this is that Marquette was supposed to be in the first ever women’s Battle 4 Atlantis. It was announced in February 2020 that the Golden Eagles would be one of the eight along with South Carolina, Oregon, Central Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Florida, and Syracuse. That was clearly going to be a big time field for Marquette to be in, especially with the team that Megan Duffy was going to have in 2020-21...... but the global pandemic kicking up at the time it was announced ended up scuttling the 2020 event as well as MU’s involvement in the first ever event.
Well, at least the organizers kept Marquette in the forefront of their minds when scheduling new fields, huh?