When South Dakota and Northern Iowa meet in Vermillion in round three of the 2016 WNIT, the two teams will have a lot in common:

  • Both the Coyotes (28-6) and Panthers  (24-10) were the regular season champions in their respective conferences, the Summit League and the Missouri Valley Conference.
  • Each gained an automatic WNIT bid after losing in their conference tournament title games. USD fell to South Dakota State, UNI lost to Missouri State.
  • Both teams are led by the Coach of the Year in their conference, South Dakota's Amy Williams and Northern Iowa's Tanya Warren.
  • Each team is ranked in the College Insider's Mid-Major Top 25. The Coyotes are 13th, the Panthers are 23rd.
  • Both teams have an impressive run of post-season appearances going. This is the sixth straight year for South Dakota in a post-season tournament, the sixth in seven years for Northern Iowa.
  • Both have considerable experience in the WNIT (USD's third trip, UNI's fifth trip), but neither has ever advanced this far in the event.

The Coyotes come in winners in 18-of-19, with the 11th best scoring offense in the nation (79 points per game). The Panthers take care of the ball about as well as anybody with the fourth fewest turnovers per game (11) in the nation.

A pair of talented points guards will be on display. USD's Nicole Seekamp, the Summit League Player of the Year, is the only player in the nation to average 16 points, six assists, and 2.5 steals per game. UNI's Sharnae Lamar is eighth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ration and in the top 20 in total assists.

The Panthers have a pair of deep threats as well. Amber Sorenson and Madison Weekly are in the top 30 in the nation in three-point shooting. UNI has also been very stingy of defense lately, holding opponents to 60 points or less in 10 of their last 13 games.

So far in the WNIT, South Dakota won at home against Creighton in round one and beat Minnesota 101-89 in round two. Northern Iowa won at Nebraska and beat Drake 64-58 in round two. In those two victories, UNI attempted 71 three-pointers, hitting 12 in each game.

These two teams met during the regular season, last November in Cedar Falls. The Panthers beat the Coyotes 64-43, in what was the second game of the season for both teams. USD was without Seekamp for the game. She was forced by the NCAA to sit out the first two games in order to be eligible for the remainder of the season

Without her, South Dakota recorded season lows in points (43), points in a quarter (8 - 1st and 4th), field goals made (16), field goal percentage (28%), three-pointers made (1), and three-point percentage (10%). The Coyotes also turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 22 Panther points.

Sorenson and Jen Keitel combined for 29 of UNI's 64 points, on 12-of-24 shooting.

The home team has won 11 of the 12 meetings in this series.

Tipoff in 7:00 PM, Thursday, in Vermillion. The winner plays either St. Louis or Western Kentucky in the quarterfinals.

I talked with South Dakota head coach Amy Williams about the Minnesota win and the match-up with Northern Iowa: