What makes this accomplishment even more significant this year is that the MAC calculated the GPAs themselves to make it more of an "even" playing field. According to NIU Senior Associate Athletic Director Francine St. Clair - who, by the way, told me "I didn't think we were going to win it." - in the past, each school calculated their own GPAs and submitted them. Since GPAs can be calculated in a variety of ways, it made for quite an unbalanced competition at times. In fact, Central Michigan had won the award in something like 12 straight years.
Needless to say, there were a lot of happy administrators from NIU here once the MAC informed us of the award. Congratulations to our student-athletes, academic support staff (which includes St. Clair, Greg Isaac, Erin Jordan, Donna Jones-Ilsley, Andy Owen and Leonard Legrand) and coaches on the honor.
Now back to the game.
Northern Illinois, the third seeded team on the West side, entered this game as the clear favorite versus the East's sixth seed, Buffalo, but as with many tournament games, this one has been a hard-fought affair. Every time the Huskies appear to gain a significant advantage, the Bulls calmly respond and cut the lead once again.
(Note on the women's bracket - unlike the men, which seed the teams on the East and West 1 through 12, the women are seeded 1-6 on each side.)
Making NIU's task that much more difficult today is the fact that NIU is now shorthanded in the post. Already without Mauvolyene Adams, who suffered an injury in the second-to-last game of the regular season at Ball State, senior center Becky