AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Longhorns are back to No. 1.
After a brief stay atop the rankings during the regular season, Texas earned another No. 1 on Sunday when the Longhorns were awarded the top seed in the West Regional in the NCAA women's basketball tournament.
Texas earned it's first top seed in the tournament since 1988
after going 28-4 and winning a share of the Big 12 regular season
title. The Longhorns lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 tournament
"I think the seeding is a reward for what the team has done
during the regular season," said coach Jody Conradt. "But that's
today. Tomorrow reality sets in and we have to learn how to win and
Texas beat two other tournament No. 1 seeds, Duke and Tennessee, during the regular season.
Texas is one of five teams from the Lone Star State to make the
NCAA tournament field of 64. Baylor (24-8), Texas Tech (24-7),
Texas Christian (24-6) and Houston (27-3) are the others.
The Longhorns have been seeded No. 1 four times, earning it
every year from 1985-88, a stretch in which they made the Final
Four twice and won the national championship in 1986. Texas
advanced to the Final Four last season as a No. 2 seed.
Texas is a host for the first two rounds for the West Regional
and will play Sunday against No. 16 seed Southern (17-12) of the
Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Texas will be a huge favorite to win that game to advance to
play the winner of the other game in Austin between No. 8 Michigan
State (21-8) and No. 9 Arizona (24-8).
Texas owns the nation's longest home winning streak with 34 in a row at the Frank Erwin Center. After finishing the season with six
road games in their last eight, junior guard Jamie Carey said the
Longhorns will be glad to be at home.
"I think we're really excited to be at home," Carey said.
"You don't have to travel and put the miles under your legs."
Win two games in Austin and the Longhorns will travel to Seattle for the regional semifinals. But no matter where the Longhorns go, they won't have to face another Big 12 team until possibly the Final
Four. Of the seven Big 12 teams that made the tournament, only
Texas is the West.
"There was a big sigh of relief," Conradt said. "In my mind,
I'm done with the Big 12."
Houston was the next-highest seed from the state of Texas at No. 3 in the East Regional. The Conference USA champions earned their first tournament bid in 12 years but must first go all the way West
to play No. 14 Wisconsin-Green Bay (23-7)on Saturday in Santa
Baylor, which beat Texas in Waco and lost to the Longhorns in
overtime in Austin, is the No. 4 seed in the Midwest Regional. The
Bears will play No. 13 Loyola-Marymount (24-5) in a first-round
game Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M.
Texas Tech, which reached as high as No. 2 in the AP rankings
this season, is the No. 4 seed in the Mideast Regional. The Red
Raiders, who lost two key players during the season -- Jia Perkins
and Cisti Greenwalt -- will play No. 13 Maine (25-6) on Saturday in
the first round in Missoula, Mont.
"I don't think there probably is one of the top 16 teams in the
country who has fought through as much as this group has," Tech
coach Marsha Sharp said.
Tech won two tournament games in Missoula in 1993 when the Red Raiders won their only national title.
"You always look at every positive," she said. "These players
have heard about Missoula their whole careers and some of them
their whole lives if they're West Texas kids, there were some
special things that happened there. It may be an opportunity to at
least start off on a positive note."
TCU is the West Regional with Texas. The Horned Frogs, who lost to Houston in the Conference USA tournament final, are the No. 6
seed and will play No. 11 Temple (21-9) in the Owls' home city of
Philadelphia on Saturday.