The South Dakota State women's basketball team thought they had a strong case to grab an at-large bid in the 2017 NCAA Tournament field, but when the field was announced Monday night (March 13), the Jackrabbits were one of first four teams on the outside looking in.

SDSU will now get to extend their season in the 2017 WNIT.

The Jacks (22-8) finished tied for second in the Summit League, despite playing all of the conference season without pre-season Player of the Year Macy Miller. They lost to IUPUI in the Summit League Tournament semifinals.

First up for SDSU in the WNIT is Northern Illinois of the Mid-American Conference, Thursday night in Brookings at 7:00 PM.

The Huskies (21-11) are enjoying their first 20-win season since 1994. They lost to Toledo in the MAC championship game.

NIU is fifth in the nation in scoring (85 points per game), but second from the bottom in points allowed (81 points). They are in the top ten nationally in free throws made and free throw percentage; 11th in rebounding.

Guard Ally Lehman is having an outstanding season. The senior has 17 double/doubles and a pair of triple/doubles. She is averaging 18 points per game and is in the top 25 nationally in rebounding, assists,and free throw percentage.

Sophomore Courtney Woods is the team's three-point specialist. The Australian is in the top ten nationally with 100 threes this season.  

This is Northern Illinois' first postseason berth since 1995.

South Dakota State is making its fourth appearance in WNIT (6-3 overall record):

  • 2007 - Beat Illinois State and Indiana. Eliminated by Wyoming.
  • 2008 - Lost to Creighton in the opening round.
  • 2014 - Beat Butler, Creighton, Minnesota, and Indiana. Eliminated by UTEP in the semifinals.

The Jackrabbits have also played in the NCAA Tournament seven times in the last nine seasons, going 2-7 overall with wins over TCU in 2009 and Miami (FL) in 2016.

I talked with SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston about not making the NCAA Tournament and the WNIT opener with Northern Illinois: