The second Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis Women’s Tournament tips off Saturday, with a four-game first-round slate. The eight-team field includes: No. 23 Ole Miss Rebels, Howard Bison, Arizona Wildcats, Memphis Tigers, Michigan Wolverines, Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, DePaul Blue Demons and South Dakota Coyotes.
First-round winners advance to the Sunday semifinals before the victors of those games meet in the championship game on Monday, Nov. 20 at 12 p.m. ET. Losers are filtered into the consolation bracket. All teams will play three games during their Bahamian stay, with Imperial Arena in Nassau serving as the site for all games. The championship game will be broadcast on ESPN 2, while all other games will be available on FloHoops.
Here it is! The official tournament bracket for the 3rd annual @badboymowers Women’s Battle 4 Atlantis! 2023 field: @ArizonaWBB, @DePaulWBBHoops, @umichwbball, @MT_WBB, @OleMissWBB, @SDCoyotesWBB, @Howard_WBB, and @MemphisWBB . Broadcasts on @espn and @flohoops. pic.twitter.com/hV2H0m7R7A— Battle4AtlantisOfficial (@B4AOfficial) August 15, 2023
Let’s take a look at Saturday’s four first-round contests:
12 p.m. ET: No. 23 Ole Miss Rebels (2-1) vs. Howard Bison (1-3)
Back in her home country of the Bahamas, Coach Yo is all smiles. But if her Ole Miss Rebels do not play with the necessary force and focus, expect her smile to become a stern stare.
After suffering a home upset to now-No. 25 Oklahoma, Ole Miss rebounded with a win over Temple, with grad guard KK Deans, in her first season at Ole Miss after transferring from Florida, enjoying a 16-point, eight-assist, seven-rebound and three-steal breakout performance.
Ole Miss meets the Howard Bison, the first HBCU to participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis. A young, inexperienced Bison team has a single win on the season, defeating Mount St. Mary’s at home behind the trio of sophomore forward Nile Miller, redshirt freshman guard Tyana Walker and freshman guard Janyah Bohanon. Look for head coach Ty Grace to urge her team to cause trouble for the Rebels with aggressive defensive pressure.
2:30 p.m. ET: Memphis Tigers (1-2) vs. Arizona Wildcats (4-0)
Opening the season with four-straight double-digit victories, the Arizona Wildcats have yet to face a tough test; the Memphis Tigers intend to change that.
After suffering a 20-point loss to fellow Battle 4 Atlantis participant MTSU, Memphis responded with a resounding defeat of Alabama State before taking No. 14 Tennessee to overtime in Knoxville. Against the Lady Vols, first-year head coach Alex Simmons’ squad was led by a pair of fifth-year high-volume scoring guards: Rutgers transfer Kai Carter, who had 18 points, and Madison Griggs, who scored 16.
Guard play also has been the strength of the Wildcats. Sophomore Kailyn Gilbert leads head coach Adia Barnes’ team in scoring with 17 points per game, while senior Helena Pueyo provides playmaking on both ends of the floor, with 4.3 assists and 4.8 steals per game.
5 p.m. ET: Michigan Wolverines (2-0) vs. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (2-1)
The 5 o’clock affair between the Michigan Wolverines and MTSU Blue Raiders projects as the most intriguing first-round matchup.
Michigan and head coach Kim Barnes Arico have begun the season with a pair of breezy wins. In the opener against Purdue Fort Wayne, junior guard Laila Phelia splashed in a career-high 25 points. Grad guard and Missouri transfer Lauren Hansen appears to have brought her sharpshooting ways to Ann Arbor, shooting 41.2 from deep. However, she should be taking more than 3.5 attempts per game, especially against a Blue Raider team that bombs away from behind the arc.
When hosting a high-caliber Princeton team at home, the 3s did not fall for MTSU, resulting in head coach Rick Insell and his Blue Raiders losing their first regular-season game in Murfreesboro in 30 tries. Although she has not yet found her stroke, junior guard Jalynn Gregory is attempting 10.7 3s per game, the fourth-highest mark in the nation. Senior guard Savannah Wheeler leads the Blue Raiders with 18.3 points per game.
7:30 p.m. ET: DePaul Blue Demons (2-1) vs. South Dakota Coyotes (2-1)
Ready to battle against the best. pic.twitter.com/tun8ujQndO— DePaul Women's Basketball (@DePaulWBBHoops) November 17, 2023
It looks like head coach Doug Bruno has another sneaky solid Blue Demon team at DePaul. Traveling to No. 17 Louisville, the Blue Demons began the contest against the Cardinals on fire, hitting 11 of their first 13 shots before suffering through a cold spell from which they couldn’t quite recover. Grad guard Anaya Peoples and sophomore guard Kate Clarke, in her first season with the Blue Demons after transferring from Michigan, have shared the scoring burden, averaging 19.7 and 20.7 points per game, respectively.
With a pair of easy home wins, the South Dakota Coyotes and head coach Kayla Karius have to be a bit disappointed with their performance at No. 22 Creighton, as the Coyotes never were competitive against the Blue Jays. In the early season, South Dakota relied on junior guard Grace Larkins, who is posting 13 points, 7.7 rebounds, four assists and two steals per game.
As the lone ranked team in the tournament field, Ole Miss should be disappointed if they aren’t heading back to Oxford with the championship trophy. However, expect Michigan to make them earn it. A prospective championship game featuring two teams intent upon entering the upper-echelon of their respective conferences—with the Rebels aiming higher than fourth in the SEC and the Wolverines intent upon ripping into the top tier of the Big Ten—would be a tasty pre-Thanksgiving treat.