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Polar Bears could fall short of at-large NCAA Tournament berth, analysts predict

ONU (23-5, 15-3 OAC) fell to Marietta in the OAC Tournament championship game on Saturday. (photo/ ONU Sports Information)

The Ohio Northern women’s basketball team (23-5) could miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years, Div. III basketball analysts from D3hoops.com said on their live Hoopsville mock selection show on Sunday night.

While the analysts predicted that Ohio Northern would be one of the final eight teams in the discussion for who would receive the final at-large bid to the tournament, they said that ONU would likely not be selected for the final spot.

The analysts cited ONU’s poor strength of schedule rating multiple times throughout the selection show as the main hangup when considering their contention. ONU has the 211th-best strength of schedule in the country, the lowest rating of any OAC school.

Despite their poor strength of schedule, however, a couple things will work in Northern’s favor come Selection Monday. ONU won 23 games this season (and garnered a .82 win percentage), which will be appealing to the selection committee. For whatever it’s worth, they also made a deep tournament run last year. And even if each season is said to be viewed in a vacuum, the fact that the selection committee has seen ONU win in March and has heard their name could subconsciously sway them in ONU’s direction, off of reputation alone.

Ohio Northern’s strength of schedule could ultimately doom the Polar Bears, however, as one D3hoops.com Great Lakes Region analyst told the Northern Review last week that ONU would likely need to win the OAC Tournament to make it into the big dance. Northern fell to Marietta on Saturday in the tournament title game, 85-68.

From last week: Despite record, ONU's NCAA Tournament hopes hang in the balance this week

Aside from Marietta, who took the OAC’s automatic bid, seven other Great Lakes Region teams were predicted to go dancing on Sunday night by D3hoops.com analysts: fourth-ranked Thomas More, fifth-ranked Hope, sixth-ranked Trine, seventh-ranked DePauw, 20th-ranked Rose-Hulman, Oberlin and Hilbert.

D3hoops.com is known as the authoritative national source for information and analysis of Div. III basketball. Their analysts noted that while they are typically within one or two picks of predicting the tournament field, there seems to be a decent amount of parity in this year’s field, which could lead to a less accurate mock selection show.

The official women’s NCAA Tournament selection show will be on Monday at 2:30 p.m.