Defending champion Wisconsin Lutheran College has been selected as the favorite in the race for the 2018-2019 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference women’s basketball title. The Warriors (24-4, 18-2 NACC) swept both the league’s regular-season and tournament crowns a year ago before falling to ninth-ranked University of Chicago in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship. Three starters and 11 letter winners return for WLC led by reigning NACC Player of the Year and D3hoops.com Preseason All-America Second Team pick Jen Dowden.
Dowden led the NACC in scoring (490 points), field goals (181) and free throws made (100). A three-time all-region pick and 2018 D3hoops.com Second Team All-American, she ranks ninth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,307 points headed into her senior season.
Wisconsin Lutheran opens its season Friday, Nov. 16, when it hosts Saint Mary’s (Ind.) as part of the annual Paul F. Knueppel Classic.
The Warriors tallied 323 points and 23 first-place votes to lead the 13-team poll. Concordia University Wisconsin is second with 291 points and one first-place vote followed by Benedictine University (266 points; 1 first-place vote) and Lakeland University (246).
Aurora University is fifth with 229 points, while Edgewood College (180) edged both Concordia University Chicago (176) and Dominican University (175) for sixth.
Milwaukee School of Engineering (137), Rockford University (84), Alverno College (76), Marian University (59) and NACC newcomer Illinois Tech (33) round out the final five spots in the poll.
The regular season kicks off Thursday, Nov. 8, as Dominican travels to Beloit. Marian and Concordia Chicago open the league slate the following Wednesday (Nov. 14) in Fond du Lac, while Dominican hosts Concordia Wisconsin the following evening (Nov. 15). The first full night of league play is Saturday, Nov. 24, when five games are on the docket.
The NACC’s regular season standings determine the teams that qualify for the six-team conference tournament, while the tournament champion receives the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
Marian women’s basketball opens the season at home Wednesday, Nov. 14 when the Sabres take on Concordia Chicago at 7 p.m. from Sadoff Gym.
2018-2019 NACC Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
Wisconsin Lutheran (23) – 323
Concordia Wisconsin (1) – 291
Benedictine (1) – 266
Lakeland – 246
Aurora – 229
Edgewood – 180
Concordia Chicago – 176
Dominican – 175
MSOE – 137
Rockford – 84
Alverno – 76
Marian – 59
Illinois Tech – 33