SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— The Drury Lady Panthers are seeded second in the NCAA-II Midwest Regional Tournament and will receive a first-round bye on the tournament bracket. The NCAA announced the field of 48 teams in the women’s national tournament on Sunday night. The number of teams competing for the national championship was reduced from 64 to 48 as fewer teams competed this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Drury earned an automatic bid to the national tournament as they won their fifth-straight Great Lakes Valley Conference championship earlier in the day with a 76-60 win over Truman State. The Lady Panthers are 20-1 and ranked third nationally in the latest NCAA-II coaches poll.
Drury will serve as the host site to the six-team Midwest Regional tournament that starts with opening-round games on Friday, March 12, and concludes with the regional championship on Monday, March 15.
The Lady Panthers will play the winner of third-seeded Truman State (12-4) and sixth-seeded Northwood (Mich.) (11-8). The other first-round game on Friday pits rivals Grand Valley State (14-5), seeded fourth, and ranked 23th in NCAA-II, against number five seed Ashland (14-8).
The top-seeded team in the region is Michigan Tech (20-1), and the Huskies, champions of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and ranked 9th nationally, will play the winner of Grand Valley State and Ashland on Saturday.
Drury will be making their 18th NCAA-II tournament appearance in 21 years, and it is their eighth consecutive trip to nationals. Last year’s tournament was canceled due to the pandemic. The Lady Panthers have advanced to the regional championship game for four straight tournaments, and they own a 30-16 record all-time in the national event. Drury has won four regional championships and was the NCAA-II runner-up in 2004. They reached the national semifinals in 2019. The Lady Panthers were selected as the Midwest Regional host for the third straight year and will be hosting a regional for the eighth time in team history.
The winner of the regional will advance to the NCAA-II Elite Eight in Columbus, Ohio, March 23-26.