The defending WIAC champion UW-Oshkosh women's basketball team enters the 2019-20 season ranked among the top 17 NCAA Division III programs in a pair of national preseason polls.
UW-Oshkosh (26-4 record in 2018-19), which advanced to the third round of the NCAA postseason last season after winning the WIAC regular season and tournament titles, is ranked eighth nationally in the preseason by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and 17th by D3hoops.com.
Amherst College (Mass.) is the top-ranked team in both the WBCA and D3hoops.com polls. The Mammoths (25-4) reached the third round of the Division III Championship last season after winning national titles in 2011, 2017 and 2018.
Rounding out the WBCA's preseason top 10 are Tufts University (Mass.) (28-3) in second, Wartburg College (Iowa) (27-4) third, University of St. Thomas (Minn.) (30-2) fourth, Scranton University (Pa.) (29-3) fifth, Bowdoin College (Maine) (31-2) sixth, University of Texas at Dallas (25-5) seventh, UW-Oshkosh eighth, Hope College (Mich.) (24-5) ninth and Messiah College (Pa.) (28-2) 10th.
The D3hoops.com top 10 also includes second-ranked Tufts University, third-ranked Scranton University, fourth-ranked Wartburg College, fifth-ranked Bowdoin College, sixth-ranked Hope College, seventh-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor University (Texas) (27-4), eighth-ranked George Fox University (Ore.) (25-4), ninth-ranked University of St. Thomas and 10th-ranked DePauw University (Ind.) (25-5).
Thomas More University (Ky.) (32-0), the 2019 Division III champion, now competes in the NAIA. The Saints claimed their third national title in five seasons with an 81-67 victory over Bowdoin College in last year's championship game. Scranton University and University of St. Thomas also reached the Final Four a year ago.
UW-Oshkosh is the only WIAC team in the WBCA's preseason top 25. Nineteenth-ranked UW-La Crosse (22-5) joins the Titans in the D3hoops.com poll.
UW-Oshkosh eighth-year head coach Brad Fischer welcomes back 12 letter winners from last year's team that ranked ninth in the country by allowing 49.1 points per game last season and 10th by committing 12.7 turnovers per contest. UW-Oshkosh also led the WIAC in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.16), field goal percentage (.431), scoring margin (+17.4), rebounding margin (+6.4) and made 3-pointers (199). The Titans' scoring defense was the fourth best in WIAC history while their 199 made 3-pointers set a program record.
UW-Oshkosh, which owns a WIAC-record 13 regular season league championships, has compiled a 165-37 record and at least 20 wins each of the past seven seasons. The program's .817 winning percentage during Fischer's tenure is the best of any women's or men's college basketball team in the state of Wisconsin since the 2012-13 campaign.
The Titans return four players who started at least 10 games last season, including senior guard/forward Olivia Campbell, who received All-WIAC Defensive Team honors for the second straight season and all-league honorable mention recognition after averaging 6.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game a year ago.
Junior guard Leah Porath, who averaged 7.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game a year ago, is the Titans' highest returning scorer from last year's balanced squad that did not feature a double-digit scorer.
Junior forward Nikki Arneson and junior center Karsyn Rueth are back for the Titans after averaging 6.7 and 5.7 points, respectively, and starting 10 games or more last season.
UW-Oshkosh also welcomes back senior forward Emily Miller and sophomore guard Brooke Freitag, who both played more than seven minutes per game last year.
The Titans are scheduled to play three games against teams ranked in either preseason top 25 poll. UW-Oshkosh battles DePauw University on Nov. 22 in Milwaukee before traveling to UW-La Crosse on Jan. 4 and hosting UW-La Crosse on Feb. 8.
UW-Oshkosh commences the 2019-20 regular season with its home opener Nov. 11 against Saint Mary's University (Minn.) in Kolf Sport Center.