On Selection Monday for women’s basketball’s NCAA tournament, the selection committee chose Stanford as one of the nation’s four #1 seeds and the top seed in the Spokane region. Stanford’s first two games will take place in Maples Pavilion, which will host a total of 3 games before sending one squad to the Sweet Sixteen.
Stanford begins its journey toward its first national championship since 1992–when the Card knocked off Western Kentucky in the final–and its fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four. Following a first-round match-up with automatic qualifier UC-Davis of the Big West conference, the Card will play the winner of Texas Tech and St. John’s. Barring an unforeseeable and historic performance, UC-Davis doesn’t have much of a chance to knock off Stanford. The Aggies are appearing in their first Big Dance in program history and their third postseason appearance of all time. The team has defeated two major conference opponents (Washington State and South Carolina) this season. Only one #1 seed has ever lost to a #16 (Stanford fell to Harvard in 1998), but Davis is relishing its opportunity just to play Stanford in the tournament. According to Aggies head coach Sandy Simpson:
To a certain degree it’s a little surrealistic. We’re constantly pinching ourselves. Staff and players see each other and just break into smiles. We’re just trying to enjoy this right now and make sure the players understand there are many coaches and student-athletes who never get this opportunity, and to savor it and to know there’s nothing guaranteed for the future, so let’s enjoy the moment.
Stanford will likely not face a challenging game until reaching Indianapolis for the Final Four. In the regional final, the Card will almost surely take on either Xavier or UCLA, both of which have lost to Stanford this season. Stanford walloped the Musketeers in late December, and the Card took care of the Bruins as recently as Saturday. UCLA also lost to Stanford in January and in February. During last year’s tournament, the Card needed a highlight-reel, last-second lay-up by 2010-11 PAC-10 Player of the Year Jeanette Pohlen to finish off Xavier in Sacramento.
Stanford would play the champion of the Dallas region, presumably fellow 1-seed Baylor, for a spot in the championship game. UConn and Tennessee round out the tournament’s top seeds. UConn will look to win its third straight championship and avenge its December loss to Stanford.
The full women’s championship bracket, with live updates, can be seen here.