Ole Miss, Jackson State get bids to NCAA Women’s Tournament; Mississippi State and Southern Miss to WBIT and WNIT

Published 8:18 pm Sunday, March 17, 2024

Two women’s basketball teams from Mississippi are going dancing this March.

Ole Miss and Jackson State both earned bids to the NCAA Women’s Tournament when the 68-team field was announced Sunday night.

Ole Miss received an at-large bid, while Jackson State earned its spot by winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament championship.

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Ole Miss (23-8) is the No. 7 seed in the Albany 1 Region and will face No. 10 seed Marquette (23-8) Saturday night in South Bend, Indiana.

Ole Miss won seven consecutive games before losing to LSU in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. It is making its third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

Jackson State (26-6) received the No. 14 seed in the Portland 3 Region and will have a tough assignment against No. 3 seed Connecticut (29-5) in the first round. The game will be on UConn’s home floor in Storrs.

Jackson State has won 21 consecutive games, capped by a 68-44 blowout of Alcorn State in the SWAC Tournament championship game on Saturday. The Tigers are in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons, but will have to find a way past the most legendary program in NCAA women’s basketball history.

UConn has won 11 national championships. Although the last was in 2016, it has reached the Final Four five times in six seasons — excluding the 2020 COVID season — since then.

Defending national champion LSU (28-5) received the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s Albany 2 Region, and will open the tournament at home in Baton Rouge against Rice (19-14). The Tigers’ path to another national title would run through Caitlin Clark and Iowa (29-4), who is the No. 1 seed in Albany 2.

LSU and Iowa played in last season’s national championship game.

South Carolina (32-0), Southern California (26-5) and Texas (30-4) earned the other No. 1 seeds.

Mississippi State (21-11), surprisingly, was left out of the NCAA Tournament field. The Bulldogs made a surprising run to the second round in 2023 and had a solid season again, but lost six of their last seven games coming down the stretch and missed the cut.

Mississippi State had four Quad 1 wins − including an upset of LSU − but went 5-4 in Quad 2 games.

Mississippi State’s season is not over, however. The school announced that it will play in the inaugural Women’s Basketball Invitation Tournament, a new 32-team second-tier event for teams left out of the NCAA Tournament field.

Mississippi State will host a first-round WBIT game Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against Georgia Tech at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

Southern Miss (18-13) also received a postseason bid, to the third-tier Women’s National Invitational Tournament. The Lady Eagles will host UAB (18-13) Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg.