George Washington, Maryland and Virginia Tech were among the 64 teams selected to the NCAA women's tournament field announced last night. For the first time since 1983, Virginia will be home for the postseason.
Maryland (17-12) is in the tournament for the first time since 2001. The Terrapins will play Miami (22-6) in Baton Rouge, La., in a first-round game Sunday. Maryland went 10-18 last season.
"It was great to see our seniors, in their last chance for the NCAA tournament, to see them with tears of joy," Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. "It is a proud day for this program."
Frese said she and her staff had started to break down film on Miami about 45 minutes after the selection was announced.
George Washington will play DePaul in a first-round game in Tallahassee on Saturday. The winner almost certainly will face Tennessee, the No. 1 overall seed.
The Colonials (22-7) are 9-1 in first-round games and are in the tournament for the 11th time in 13 seasons under Coach Joe McKeown. The series with DePaul (22-6) is tied at 2-2; most recently, the Colonials won a home game two seasons ago but lost in Chicago last season, 64-46.
"What I remember most about that game," McKeown said, "was that it was right before Christmas, and I was so upset with how we played that I almost canceled everyone's flights home and made them come back to Washington to practice instead. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.
"I am really proud of the tradition we have established here. Now, you expect to see GW going dancing."
Tennessee (26-3) defeated both DePaul and George Washington in the regular season. The Volunteers enter the tournament, however, without starting point guard Loree Moore. Moore is out with a season-ending knee injury. "She's a very good player, she had a great game against us," McKeown said. "When we played them it was a 12- or 13-point game, but it was a lot closer than the score indicated. If we get to the second round, having played them already will help."
Virginia Tech (22-7) will host Iowa (16-12) in a first-round game on Sunday and, like GW, likely would face a No. 1 seed -- Penn State -- if it wins. However, those games will be in Blacksburg, Va. The Hokies are 5-1 in first-round games.
NCAA tournament selection chair Cheryl Marra said the committee had no problem putting Penn State (25-5) in Blacksburg.
"Once we went to pre-determined sites, there's always the chance that [playing on an opposing team's home court] will happen," Marra said. "Penn State is a number one seed, so they've gone to other people's home courts and won before. Even though that game might be on another team's home court, it protected the integrity of the bracket."
Marra also said Maryland was one of several "bubble teams," but offered several reasons the Terrapins made the tournament.
"Maryland played a very difficult nonconference schedule," she said. "And they certainly positioned themselves in the last two, three weeks with their run through the ACC and, once they got into the tournament, they played very, very well against Duke."
Frese said she already knew Miami had four players who average in double figures.
"But that's what this is all about, you're going to play somebody tough in the first round," Frese said. "This is our chance to dream."