Central Michigan gets at-large bid to NCAA Tournament as No. 8 seed

The CMU women's basketball team huddle after their victory over Eastern Michigan on March 13 in Quicken Loans Arena.

For the second consecutive season, the Central Michigan women's basketball team is going to the Big Dance.

This time around, though, the Chippewas weren't guaranteed a spot.

CMU (25-7, 15-3 Mid-American Conference) was selected as an at-large bid to the Chicago Region as a No. 8-seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The Chippewas will take on No. 9 Michigan State(20-11, 9-9 Big Ten) at 1 p.m. on March 23 in South Bend, Indiana.

"We're just very happy to be in," said CMU head coach Sue Guevara. "Our nonconference has prepared us for this. I've had numerous people come up to me today or yesterday and ask how I'm doing because we lost in the the semi(finals). I said 'I'm doing just fine, we won a championship.' We played a long season from January to March and cut down the nets."

It is the second time in program history the Chippewas have made the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons, with the first being in 1983-84. 

Fellow league opponent and MAC Tournament champion Buffalo also made the Big Dance with the automatic bid, earning a No. 10 seed and will take on No. 7 Rutgers in the Albany Region.

In the 2017-18 NCAA Tournament, No. 11 CMU marched past No. 6 LSU (78-69) and No. 3 Ohio State (95-78) in first and second rounds to make the Sweet 16. It was there the Chippewas fell 83-69 to No. 2 Oregon in Spokane, Washington.

The Spartans are coming off a 71-55 loss in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament to Maryland, the conference and eventual tournament champion. CMU is 13-29 all-time against MSU with the first meeting coming in 1970. 

Guevara was an assistant coach at MSU from 1986-96 before getting the head coaching job at Michigan from 1996-2003. She then was an assistant at Auburn from 2004-07 before coming to CMU.

If the Chippewas were to get past the Spartans, they would take on the Tournament host No. 1 Notre Dame (30-3) or No. 16 Bethune-Cookman University (21-10) in the second round. CMU played Notre Dame in 2016-17 and fell 107-47. Both senior guard Presley Hudson and senior forward Reyna Frost played in that game.

CMU has never made it past the NCAA Tournament's first round in back-to-back seasons.