Tynice Martin got a little choked up after her West Virginia team won the Big 12 women's basketball tournament a week ago in Oklahoma City. It had been an amazing three days for the Mountaineers, who entered the event needing a big run after going 8-10 in league play. And it was extra emotional for tournament MVP Martin, a sophomore guard whose Atlanta-based family doesn't get to see her play in person often, but was in Oklahoma to watch her soar.
The Mountaineers' climb to the Big 12 automatic berth, ending Baylor's six-year reign as tournament champ, is just one of the interesting stories going into Selection Monday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET).
There is no drama about the No. 1 overall seed. UConn is on a 107-game winning streak and seeking its fifth consecutive, and 12th overall, NCAA title.
You'll be hearing plenty about the Huskies, who lost their best players from last season as the first three picks in the 2016 WNBA draft -- yet remain on top of the women's hoops world.
The other No. 1 seeds project to be familiar faces, too: ACC champ Notre Dame, SEC champ South Carolina and Baylor, which won the Big 12 regular-season title but then ran into the aforementioned Morgantown Express in the league final.
In the women's NCAA tournament, the top-16 seeds host the early rounds, provided they don't have a facility conflict. Pac-12 tourney champ Stanford is unable to host because the league's gymnastics championships are March 18 at Maples Pavilion -- so the Cardinal must win two games on the road to make the Sweet 16. (Last year in that round, Stanford upset Notre Dame.)
So we'll see which team outside the top 16 gets the chance to host because the Cardinal can't. And we'll find out if there are any surprises among those top 16 that are different than as projected by espnW's Charlie Crème, whose final Bracketology on Sunday had Ohio State as the final host and Auburn as the last team in.
We already know UConn will open at home in Storrs and is assured of being in the Bridgeport Regional. So the Huskies will not have to leave the state of Connecticut to earn a Final Four berth.
The last time UConn fell short of that was 2007, which, incidentally, was the last year that Drake made the NCAA field. Now the Bulldogs are back after a decade away, earning the Missouri Valley Conference automatic bid. Drake has won 22 games in a row, the second-longest active streak behind the Huskies.
Long Beach State has been waiting much longer than Drake, but the 49ers are back, as well. They upset Big West regular-season champ UC Davis on the way to winning the automatic bid. The 49ers made the field each season of the NCAA tournament's first decade -- 1982-92, including going to back-to-back Final Fours in 1987-88. But this will be their first appearance since 1992.
Big Sky champion Montana State returns to the NCAA field for the first time since 1993. Last year, the top-seeded Bobcats were upset in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament by Idaho State on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. This year, Montana State avenged that by defeating Idaho State in the Big Sky championship game.
Two other long-time, no-see-NCAA-tournament teams are Summit League champ Western Illinois, which made its only other appearance in 1995, and MAC champ Toledo, appearing for the first time since 2001.
Then there are newbies Texas Southern (SWAC) and Elon (CAA), the latter having been in Division I for 18 years. Elon wasn't yet a D-I school when its current coach, Charlotte Smith, made what remains the most famous shot in NCAA women's tournament history: a 3-pointer with seven-tenths of a second left to give North Carolina the 1994 NCAA title.
Smith and her Phoenix will be excited on Selection Monday, but her alma mater won't make the women's field. It's the only time in the past 25 years that the Tar Heels will miss the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons. However, their archrival, Duke, will return after a rare miss last year, and the other side of the Triangle, NC State, will be dancing as well. In all, eight teams each from both the ACC and SEC are projected to make the field.
NCAA women's tournament first- and second-round games will be Friday, March 17 through Monday, March 20. The regionals in Lexington, Kentucky, and Oklahoma City are March 24-26, and those in Bridgeport and Stockton, California, are March 25-27.
The Women's Final Four, at Dallas' American Airlines Center, is returning to a Friday-Sunday format for the first time since 2002. It will be March 31-April 2.