INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Blugolds.com) – The 16th-ranked UW-Eau Claire women's basketball team has received an at large-bid to the 2012 NCAA Division III Championship, NCAA officials announced today.
The Blugolds (20-6), who are making their 16th overall appearance in the NCAA Championship but first since 2009, will take on Simpson College (Iowa) in the first round of the tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Second-ranked University of Chicago will serve as host for the first and second round games. Also competing in Chicago this weekend will be Monmouth College (Ill.), which will take on the host school at 8 p.m. Friday. The winners of each game will face each other Saturday at 7 p.m.
Tickets for the weekend games will cost $7 for adults and $4 for students/seniors/children (older than 2). For Friday's games, they will go on sale at the door beginning at 4:30 p.m. Tickets for Saturday's second round contest will be available for purchase immediately after each game Friday night, as well as at the door Saturday beginning at 6 p.m.
The Blugolds earned an at-large bid to the tournament and are one of four qualifiers from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (others are UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Whitewater). The Blugolds tied for the regular season WIAC crown but fell to UW-Whitewater in the conference tournament semifinals on Feb. 23.
Eau Claire is 32-15 all-time in NCAA postseason play and most recently won first round games in 2008 and 2009 before falling in the second round both times. With Tonja Englund as head coach, the Blugolds are making their fifth appearance in the tournament and hold an 8-4 record. View Blugolds' complete NCAA history here
Simpson (21-6), the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season champions, earned an at-large bid after closing the year winning 9 of its last 10 games, falling to Coe in the IIAC Tournament Championship game on Feb. 25. The Blugolds have only faced Simpson twice previously, most recently in the second round of the NCAA Championship during the 2007-08 season and the team first played in 1993.
Chicago (25-0) won the University Athletic Association title and is one of four undefeated teams in the field of 64. The Maroons, who have won 46 of their last 47 games, reached the national quarterfinals a year ago. Monmouth (16-9) makes its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Midwest Conference Tournament with a 75-67 win over Carroll on Saturday. The Fighting Scots finished second in the MWC regular season standings.
Friday night will mark the first NCAA postseason games to be played at the Ratner Center since the facility opened in 2003.
For fans traveling to Chicago, here is a list of recommended hotels:
The following additional hotels are located in the Midway Hotel Complex.
Marriott Chicago Midway
Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Midway
Courtyard by Marriott Chicago Midway
Hampton Inn Marriott Chicago Midway
Fairfield Inn by Marriott Chicago Midway
Holiday Inn Express Marriott Chicago Midway
Sleep Inn Chicago Midway
Additional recommendations may be found in the University of Chicago's Visitor Guide