Providence, R.I. – Eight BIG EAST women’s basketball teams will compete in the 64-team 2013 Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, announced during the ESPN selection show on Monday evening. It is the fifth time the BIG EAST has had eight teams chosen to the tournament and the second-straight occurrence. The eight teams selected are the most of any conference.
No. 1 seed Notre Dame (31-1) earned the league’s automatic berth after winning the 2013 BIG EAST Championship on March 12 with a 61-59 victory against Connecticut at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The tournament title was the first for Notre Dame, which will play No. 16 seed UT-Martin in Iowa City, Iowa on March 24 in the Norfolk regional. The winner of that game will play either Miami (Fla.) or Iowa. The Fighting Irish are ranked second in the nation in both polls and have played for the title in each of the last two NCAA tournaments. Notre Dame’s only loss this season is to another No. 1 seed, Baylor.
No. 1 seed Connecticut (29-4), the runner-up at the BIG EAST Championship, will host No. 16 seed Idaho in Storrs, Conn., in the Bridgeport regional on March 23. The winner will face either Vanderbilt or St. Joseph’s. The Huskies are ranked third in the nation and are making their 24th appearance in the NCAA Championship. UConn will be competing for its 14th Final Four appearance, including five-straight heading into the 2013 tournament.
The 2013 tournament marks the third time in league history that a pair of No. 1 seeds will come from the BIG EAST. Notre Dame and Connecticut both earned No. 1 seeds in 2012, facing each other in the Final Four for the second-straight year with Notre Dame advancing to the title game. Prior to that, the last time the BIG EAST had two top seeds was 2001, also when Notre Dame and Connecticut were both No. 1 seeds. The two met in the national semifinal in St. Louis, Mo., and the Irish won, eventually winning the title.
Louisville (24-8) was selected as a No. 5 seed and will play No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee State at home on March 24 in the Oklahoma City regional. The Cardinals are ranked No. 17 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and No. 16 in the Associated Press poll. It is the first time that Cardinals are hosting the NCAA first and second round in the KFC Yum! Center, where they are 14-2 this season.
Also in the Oklahoma City regional, Syracuse (24-7) earned a No. 7 seed and will play No. 10 seed Creighton in Knoxville, Tenn., on March 23. The winner of that matchup will play the winner of Tennessee/Oral Roberts. The No. 22 Orange received their fifth NCAA Tournament bid in program history and first since 2008. Syracuse is currently ranked No. 22 in both national polls.
No. 9 seed Villanova (21-10) will play No. 8 seed Michigan in Stanford, Calif., on March 24 in the Spokane regional. The winner will face either Tulsa or host Stanford. The trip to the NCAA Championship marks the team’s 11th postseason appearance in the last 14 seasons. It is the 10th NCAA appearance under the guidance of head coach Harry Perretta.
The BIG EAST has three No. 10 seeds in St. John’s, DePaul and USF. St. John’s (18-12) will host No. 7 seed Dayton in Queens, N.Y. in the Bridgeport regional. Kentucky and Navy will match up in the other game at the site. It is the Red Storm’s eighth appearance in the NCAA tournament, and the fourth-straight berth. Last year, St. John’s reached the Sweet 16 round.
DePaul (21-11) will play No. 7 seed Oklahoma in Durham, N.C., on March 24 in the Norfolk regional. The winner of that game will play the winner of Duke/Hampton. The Blue Demons are making their 11th consecutive NCAA tournament selection. DePaul’s RPI was ranked No. 26 in the rankings that were released by the NCAA on Mar. 10.
USF (21-10) will play No. 7 seed Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas on March 23 in the Spokane regional. California and Fresno State will be the other two teams in that bracket. It is the second NCAA appearance for the Bulls in school history, and their first since 2006. The Bulls knocked off two top-25 teams this season, and won five of their last six road games.
The Regional sites for the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship will be Norfolk, Va., Oklahoma City, Okla., Spokane, Wash., and Bridgeport, Conn. Those games will be played March 30-April 2.
The Final Four will be played on April 7 and 9 in New Orleans, La., at New Orleans Arena.