UPDATE: The Loyola women’s basketball team is now scheduled to play Stetson University at 1:30 p.m. March 19 in the opening round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational, according to a press release from Loyola Athletics.
The Ramblers were previously set to play Longwood University March 19, but the Lancers had a positive COVID-19 in their Tier I personnel and were forced to withdraw from the tournament.
On paper, the Ramblers get a slightly easier matchup. Longwood is No. 263 out of 343 teams in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings, while the Hatters are No. 273.
The Loyola women’s basketball team (11-13, 8-10) announced March 15 it will be participating in this year’s Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI). This will mark the Ramblers’ first postseason appearance in program history.
The WBI is an eight-team tournament and will be played at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky March 19-21. Fans aren’t permitted, but “video coverage will be provided,” according to a press release from Loyola Athletics.
The Ramblers are joined by Abilene Christian University, Cleveland State University, Florida International University, Longwood University, Manhattan College, Northern Arizona University and the University of Portland.
Looking at the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings, Loyola enters the tournament as the favorite. The Ramblers are No. 147 out of 343 teams, while the next-best ranking is Cleveland State at No. 166.
Teams are picked based on their NET, record, conference standings, end of year performance and quality wins and losses, according to the WBI website. There is a winners bracket and a consolation bracket, and every team is slated to play three games.
“We are beyond thrilled to be included in the field for the 2021 WBI,” Loyola head coach Kate Achter said in the press release. “This season has tested our team in many ways, but their sacrifice, hard work, and commitment to each other has paid off.”
Achter wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Loyola will be the fifth Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) team to play in the tournament and the first since Southern Illinois University participated in 2017.
Achter had previously said the Ramblers put themselves in a position to potentially play in a postseason tournament last year before the season abruptly ended due to COVID-19. Last season, Loyola started a program-best 9-0 on the way to its first winning season since 2012-13. This year, Achter mentioned the idea of postseason play after falling to Bradley University in the MVC Tournament semifinals March 13.
Loyola is led by junior forward Allison Day’s 11.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The Russellville, Ohio native was named to the First Team All-MVC and the MVC All-Tournament Team after leading the Ramblers to their first MVC Tournament semifinal appearance since joining the conference prior to the 2013-14 season.
Loyola is set to play Longwood at 1:30 p.m. March 19. The game is slated to be broadcast on Prepspin.