The William Woods University Lady Owls basketball team's return to the national tournament after a three-year absence comes with an element of irony.
William Woods learned Wednesday night it has earned an at-large bid to the 40th-annual NAIA Division I national tournament, scheduled March 18-24 in Billings, Mont.
No. 25 William Woods — in its first season under head coach Ayriell Robinson — has a 25-7 record and will be making its 11th appearance in the national tournament. The Lady Owls drew the seventh seed in the Naismith Bracket and will play ninth-ranked Shawnee State (Ohio) — a No. 2 seed — in the first round at 10 a.m. CST Thursday, March 19.
William Woods last played in the national tournament in 2017 and opened with a stunning 88-85 upset of Shawnee State, which was ranked third at the time and was the top seed in its bracket. The Lady Owls eventually reached the NAIA quarterfinals for the first time in school history, before bowing to Vanguard (Calif.).
Shawnee State is 29-4 this season and won the Mid-South Conference's postseason tournament to receive an automatic bid to the national tournament.
William Woods is one of four schools from the American Midwest Conference to make the NAIA tournament.
No. 14 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University — which secured the AMC postseason tournament title — is the third seed in the Cramer Bracket. Freed-Hardeman faces No. 6 seed Providence (Mont.) in the first round at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 18.
No. 11 Lyon (Ark.) College is also a third seed in the Duer Bracket and squares off against No. 6 Rust (Miss.) in the opening round at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 18.
No. 15 Columbia College is the fourth seed in the Liston Bracket and plays No. 5 Carroll (Mont.) in the first round at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, March 19.