Yeah, yeah, Mizzou and Illinois pussyfooted their way into the NCAA tournament, which gives area hoopsters another week to celebrate mediocrity. But if you're looking for a more legit reason to get your March Madness on this week, turn your attention toward another set of brackets, in Division 3-Land, where the Washington University Lady Bears have ascended to the Final Four. In order to get there, the Bears -- who entered the tourney as the No. 12-ranked team -- reeled off four wins in a row against teams ranked in the top ten.
The Wash. U. squad is used to post-season success; they're fresh off a championship season. But this year, the team faced a much tougher road to the semifinals. They began their run by bumping off No. 10-ranked Denison, then upending No. 4-ranked Hope College. Next they upset (nay, annihilated) No. 1 Thomas More College, which entered the tournament with a 28-0 record, by a score of 72-53.
Finally, last Saturday, they knocked off No. 7-ranked Chicago, snapping that team's 21-consecutive game winning streak.
This Friday, the Wash. U. squad will tip off against host Illinois Wesleyan (ranked No. 7) at the Shirk Center, in Bloomington, Illinois. The winner will play in the championship game the next evening.
Rankings are determined by D3hoops.com. (The USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll had ranked Wash U. No. 15 going into the tourney.) The Wash. U. women's team is now 58-18 in all-time NCAA tournament play. This is their third consecutive trip to the Final Four.