CHICAGO --- NAIA No. 5-ranked Saint Xavier University and No. 15 Purdue University Calumet represent the two favorites heading into the 2014 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament, which opens play Monday night at two locations and concludes on Saturday. The conference office released the tournament schedule Sunday afternoon.
Purdue Calumet is the top team to come out of the CCAC South Division after going 15-2 in league play and 21-6 overall, while Saint Xavier claimed the CCAC North Division with a 16-2 conference record. The Cougars are 26-4 overall. With only a half-game separating the pair of division winners due to an unbalanced league schedule, Purdue Calumet gained the top seed in the tournament as well as the first automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament by virtue of winning its head-to-head contest with Saint Xavier, 84-72, back on Feb. 5.
That leaves the Cougars among nine other teams vying for the second automatic bid to the national tournament, which goes to the winner of the CCAC Tournament. Should the Peregrines also win the CCAC Tournament, the tournament runner-up would gain the second bid.
One year ago, five CCAC representatives went to the 32-team national tournament, which runs March 12-18 in Sioux City, Iowa.
The other team that has to be considered among the favorites in the field is NAIA No. 17 Cardinal Stritch University. The Wolves (24-5, 14-4 CCAC) have handed both Purdue Calumet and Saint Xavier one of their two league losses each. Cardinal Stritch defeated Saint Xavier, 71-61, back in November before the Cougars returned the favor, 75-63, back on Feb. 1. That was part of a string of four setbacks in five games for the Wolves before closing out the season with three straight victories. Prior to the start of the dry spell, CSU knocked off Purdue Calumet, 76-69, in overtime on Jan. 25.
Purdue Calumet's only other league loss came at the hands of in-state rival Indiana University South Bend, 88-85, on Feb. 8, three days after the Peregrines upset Saint Xavier.
The rest of the field includes No. 24-ranked Olivet Nazarene (20-9, 13-4), defending regular-season and tournament champion Roosevelt University (21-9, 12-6), Robert Morris University (16-10, 11-7), Indiana South Bend (19-10, 9-8) and University of St. Francis (8-22, 6-11). The two wildcard teams are Calumet College of St. Joseph (13-15, 6-11) and Holy Cross College (8-21, 4-13), both of which come out of the CCAC South Division.
The tournament starts with a pair of play-in games on Monday. Robert Morris heads to Holy Cross, while St. Francis hosts Calumet St. Joseph. The winners of those two games then face the top team in each division on Wednesday. Purdue Calumet gets the winner of the Robert Morris-Holy Cross matchup with the winner of the St. Francis-Calumet St. Joseph game heading to Saint Xavier on Wednesday.
Wednesday's other two games have Indiana South Bend making the long trek to Cardinal Stritch and Roosevelt traveling to Olivet Nazarene.
Semifinal-round action takes place Friday (5 p.m. and 7 p.m.) at the site of the highest of the remaining four seeds with the championship game being played at the same site on Saturday at 5 p.m.
The complete tournament schedule is listed below:
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24
Game #1: ND #4 Robert Morris (16-10) at WC Holy Cross (8-21) --- 5 pm CT
Game #2: WC Calumet St. Joseph (13-15) at SD #4 St. Francis (8-22) --- 7 pm CT
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26
Game #3: Winner-Game #1 at SD #1 Purdue Calumet (21-6) --- 5 pm CT
Game #4: SD #3 Indiana South Bend (19-10) at ND #2 Cardinal Stritch (24-5) --- 5:30 pm CT
Game #5: Winner-Game #2 at ND #1 Saint Xavier (26-4) --- 5 pm CT
Game #6: ND #3 Roosevelt (21-9) at SD #2 Olivet Nazarene (20-9) --- 5:30 pm CT
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28
(All games at site of highest remaining seed among the four teams)
(Highest seed will play 5 pm game with second game beginning at 7 pm)
Game #7: Winner-Game #3 vs. Winner-Game #4 --- TBA
Game #8: Winner-Game #5 vs. Winner-Game #6 --- TBA
SATURDAY, MARCH 1 (at site of Friday's highest seed)
Game #9: Winner-Game #7 vs. Winner-Game #8 --- 5 pm CT
For a tournament bracket, go to: www.ccacsports.com/d/WBKB_Tournament_Bracket_2014.pdf