A day after learning that seven men’s teams from the Big 12 were going “Dancing” this week, it was revealed that six women’s teams are headed to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
The women’s teams are headed by Baylor and West Virginia, co-conference champions in the regular season, both with No. 2 seeds in the NCAA Women’s Tournament. Joining the Lady Bears and the Lady Mountaineers in March Madness this year are Oklahoma State and Texas, both five seeds, Iowa State, a seven seed, and Oklahoma, a 10 seed.
This is the eighth straight year the Big 12 has placed at least six teams in the tournament. Since 2007, the Big 12 is the only conference to place that many teams in the NCAA bracket every year.
Baylor (29-4, 16-2), gets the honor of hosting the opening two rounds in the tournament’s Notre Dame regional. The Lady Bears will open against 15-seed Western Kentucky (24-8) on Saturday. The Hilltoppers received an automatic bid by winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in dramatic fashion. Western Kentucky scored 18 of the final 22 points in defeating Arkansas State for the conference title. The Lady Hilltoppers have five players averaging in double figures in scoring and have won their last 10 games. The Lady Bears feature the Big 12’s leading scorer in senior Odyssey Sim, who averages 28 points a game. Baylor lost to Louisville a year ago in the national semifinals. The year before that, in 2012, the Lady Bears were the national champions.
West Virginia (29-4, 16-2) starts out with No. 15 Albany (28-4) in the opening round, to be played Sunday in Baton Rouge, La., part of the Louisville Regional. Albany is making its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament as champions of the America East Conference. The Lady Great Danes are a strong defensive team. They led their conference in both scoring defense and field-goal-percentage defense. They have won 19 of the previous 20 games. The Lady Great Danes are looking for their first NCAA Tournament victory.
Oklahoma State (23-6, 11-7) is matched up against Florida Gulf Coast (28-7) on Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind. The Cowgirls join Baylor in the Notre Dame Regional. Fans will remember the name Florida Gulf Coast from the magical run by that school’s men’s team a year ago all the way to the Sweet 16. The 12-seeded Lady Eagles are making their second NCAA Tournament appearance. Six players on the Florida Gulf Coast women’s team have made at least 33 three-point shots this season.
Fifth-seeded Texas (21-11, 11-7), the third-place finisher in the Big 12 this season will meet No. 12 Pennsylvania (22-6) Sunday in College Park, Md, as part of the Louisville Regional along with West Virginia. This will be the second NCAA Tournament appearance for the Lady Quakers. The last time they made the tournament field was in 2001, as a No. 15 seed, when they lost to Texas Tech out of the Big 12 in their opening game. Penn’s 22 wins this season set a school record, and its 40 victories the past two season equals the best mark over that time frame.
Seven-seed Iowa State (20-10, 9-9) also gets to host games on the opening weekend of the tournament. The Lady Cyclones will face No. 10 Florida State (20-11) out of the Atlantic Coast Conference on Saturday on their home court at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State is in the Stanford Regional. The Lady Seminoles started the 2013-14 season winning 14 of their first 15 games before losing six of seven (sounds like several Big 12 men’s teams this season). They rebounded, however, to win five of their last eight games befre losing to the Notre Dame women in the conference tournament a week ago.
The final Big 12 school to make the women’s field is Oklahoma (16-14, 9-9). The Sooners will play No. 7 DePaul (27-6) in Durham, N.C., in one of the early games on Saturday, the first day of the NCAA Women’s Tournament. The Sooners are slotted in the Lincoln Regional. OU will face the fifth best team in the country in scoring. The Lady Blue Demons are averaging 83.4 points a gam. They are second in the nation in steals with 12 a game. DePaul comes into its first-round game with the Sooners having won its last seven and 16 of its last 17 games. The Lady Blue Demoins lost to Oklahoma State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last year.
Tags: Baylor Bears Big 12 Basketball Big 12 NCAA Women' Tournament Teams Iowa State Cyclones NCAA Womens's Basketball Tournament Oklahoma Sooners Oklahoma State Cowboys Texas Lobnghorns West Virginia Mountaineers