The Midwest kicks off its women’s DI college quarterfinals this weekend, while the final four Northeast teams decide which three will continue on to nationals in the spring.
The Midwest is actually one team shy of a full quarterfinal bracket. Since Eastern Illinois (4-0) doesn’t participate in playoffs, and UW Milwaukee and Illinois were disqualified from post-season play, the Western League could advance three teams. Iowa State (1-3), which was fifth in the standings, advances to playoffs. The seven-team quarterfinal also means that one Eastern League squad receives a bye this weekend and advances to the semifinals. And that lucky team is Ohio State.
The matchups are such:
Ohio State (Eastern 1) v Bye
Michigan (Eastern 2) v Iowa State (Western 3)
Notre Dame (Eastern 3) v Minnesota (Western 2)
Indiana (Eastern 4) v Northern Iowa (Western 1)
Reigning Midwest champion Michigan should beat Iowa State relatively easily, which would mean a rematch of the OSU v Michigan game in the semifinals. Ohio State won the team’s regular season meeting convincingly, 41-14, and will pose a very big threat to Michigan’s hopes of repeating as champion.
Northern Iowa has been crushing the competition this season, and although Indiana performed well at 3-2 and held Michigan to a four-point win, NIU has to be the favorite. The only thing that might benefit Indiana in this situation is the level of competition that the Eastern League has over the Western. NIU probably hasn’t had to play too much defense this year, and that can always catch a squad by surprise.
Similar scenario exists for the Notre Dame v Minnesota quarterfinal. While UM has the better record (3-1), the Irish (3-2) have had to play solid teams all season long. Notre Dame has been playing well in its first DI season, and they’re our favorites to advance to the semifinals against NIU.
In the Northeast, the final four travel to Dartmouth for the final round. Army and Brown received byes into the semis as the NERFU and Ivy League champions, while Princeton and Radcliffe advanced after quarterfinal wins against Boston University (22-0) and Buffalo (17-10) respectively.
Army plays Radcliffe, and Brown takes on Princeton. While Army is expected to defeat Radcliffe, the other semifinal is one of great anticipation. The two played each other for the Ivy League championship a couple of weeks ago, and with the score tied at 17 with 10 minutes to go, Shakeela Faulkner outraced the defense 60 meters for the try and 24-17 win. If anything, the match proved what a quality side Princeton is, but the close game surely reignited dedicated practices at Brown.
The third place match on Sunday is equally important as the NRU receives three seeds to nationals.
Stay tuned for all of the game-day action.