LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Michigan women’s basketball team lost Naz Hillmon, its best player from the past season and arguably in program history. One might think a major stumble was ahead.

Not so fast. The No. 18 Wolverines, UNLV’s first-round opponent Friday at Lousiana State’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center (noon, ESPNU), are back in the NCAA Tournament for a fifth consecutive year. And though Hillmon went on to play with the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, many of Michigan’s key players, especially guard Leigha Brown, have improved from 2022.

It’s really a big deal,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico told The Michigan Daily newspaper of her team’s fifth trip in a row and a No. 6 seeding in its regional. UNLV is seeded 11th. “(For) the players in our program, I want them to have the opportunity to celebrate it. To get this 6-seed is great for us and just excited about the opportunity to play on Friday.”

Brown, who averages 18 points, five rebounds and five assists, was an Associated Press All-America honorable mention, just the third player in program history to be so honored.

The Wolverines are one of seven Big Ten teams to make the NCAAs, lead by third-ranked Iowa (26-6).

Michigan finished 22-9 and, obviously, with five straight NCAA trips, has experience. Emily Kiser, a 6-foot-3 forward who averages 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds, has been on each of the five NCAA teams.

Brown, Maddie Nolan and Michelle Sidor will be playing in their third NCAA Tournament for Michigan.