Projected Regional Contenders
2016-17 Record: 24-7 (18-4, PSAC)
Conference Tournament: PSAC Champions
NCAA Tournament: L Regional Semifinals to Virginia Union
Returning Starters: 5
The time is now. If IUP doesn't make the move into the Elite Eight and national title contention, then I don't know when it will ever happen. Five returning starters and impact bench players all return for the Crimson Hawks, giving them the best roster in terms of experience in the region.
But unfortunately, the best experience that these ladies have are getting knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in all three of their appearances in the last three seasons. Their first conference title under head coach Tom McConnell finally came as they took down arch-rival Cal (PA), but expectations are now set on a national title.
Carolyn Appelby is the best point guard in the region and there is no argument to be had. After Appleby, IUP boasts plenty of guards who are athletic and can shoot from deep. The biggest question will be post play, where Britanny Robinson can get beaten up by some of the best in the land.
Regional Contender Status: Near-Favorites
2016-17 Record: 30-4 (20-2, PSAC)
Conference Tournament: L PSAC Finals to IUP
NCAA Tournament: L Regional Finals to Virginia Union
Returning Starters: 3
The Miki Glenn era of Cal Women's Basketball is over, but an unfortunate injury that kept one of the best players in D2 over the last four seasons out during the NCAA Tournament allowed the team to see what life without her would be like. The good news: this team can still bring it, which is bad news for every other team in the region.
It all starts with superstar forward Seairra Barrett, truly one of the best post players in the game. Moving out, Abbey Sporio is likely to take over as the floor general, and Shatara Parsons returns for her senior season as the other forward. A slew of transfers also come in, led by Jiahna Flood-Francis from Wilmington. A proven scorer, she could become a regular in the rotation that provides key buckets off the bench.
So long as Jess Strom is head coach, I will never count the Vulcan women out as contenders in the national scene. But something tells me that the window for a national championship might be closing as the last remnants of the 2015 champions start to depart. But for at least this season, Cal is right there at the top of the pack.
Regional Contender Status: One of the favorites, if not the favorite
2016-17 Record: 26-4 (18-4, MEC)
Conference Tournament: L Quarterfinals to Charleston (WV)
NCAA Tournament: L First Round to Cal (PA)
Returning Starters: 7 (All started at least 10 gms)
Glenville has to be considered a contender in the region because of their sheer offensive strength, but until they prove they can play defense well enough against top-flight competition to win when their offense is misfiring, then the Pioneers won't go very far.
Led by returning MEC Player of The Year Paris McLeod, GSC chucks threes as if they grew on trees. Attempting 1,364 three-point shots last year, they were far-and-away the team most willing to shoot from deep in the entire country. But if the three's aren't falling, then the team won't get any flow.
Losing both of their postseason contests last season will leave a sour taste in the mouth of the blue-and-white, and some retribution may be on the menu soon. But again, defense is key in this region and will be needed once the final eight teams are selected.
Regional Contender Status: Contender, but need to prove it