Michigan women make NCAA Tournament as No. 7 seed, will face Northern Colorado

Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty (3) dribbles down the court on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 at Crisler Arena. Jack Zellweger | Ann Arbor News(

Michigan women’s basketball’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 2013 will begin in Waco, Texas.

With the announcement of the 64-team field Monday night, the Wolverines are a No. 7 seed of the Lexington Region and will face No. 10 seed Northern Colorado (26-6) at 5 p.m. Friday (ESPN2).

Northern Colorado won the Big Sky Conference and enters the tournament on a 13-game winning streak.

Michigan (22-9) entered the final week of the regular season on the tournament bubble, but it earned a crucial 71-65 victory over then 13th-ranked Maryland in its final game on Feb. 22.

The Wolverines, ranked 39th in RPI, opened the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 6 seed and defeated No. 11 seed Penn State 77-48 in the first round before losing to No. 3 seed Nebraska 61-54 in a quarterfinal.

The team enters the NCAA Tournament with one of the best duos in the country. Senior guard Katelynn Flaherty, the program’s all-time leading scorer, ranks fifth in the nation at 23.2 points per game.

Junior center Hallie Thome is averaging 17 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 61.5 percent from the field, which is third-best in the Big Ten.

Michigan accepted an invitation to the WNIT the previous four years since last earning an NCAA Tournament berth in head coach Kim Barnes Arico’s first season.

The team, which won the WNIT championship last season, was on the bubble last year after losing three of its final four games in the regular season. It dropped its conference tournament opener to Michigan State, costing the team a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

This season, the Wolverines appeared to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament in January with a program-best 18-4 start and a No. 13 ranking in the country.

However, they sputtered down the stretch, losing four of their next six before upending Maryland.

UAB knocked off Iowa State as a No. 14 seed in 2015. (David Stephenson | AP Photo)
Michigan players celebrate as they are shown on the bracket during the TBS Selection Sunday show at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, on Sunday, March 11, 2018. Michigan will be traveling to Wichita, Kansas, to take on Montana.

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