March 17, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After winning a 12th Big West Conference Tournament title last week, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team was awarded a No. 13 seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament field of 64, it was announced Monday. The Gauchos, who are making their first Big Dance appearance since 2005, will square with No. 4 seed Virginia Sunday, March 23 at approximately 6:30 p.m. PDT.
"I'm very pleased with our seed and I'm excited to play a very, very good Virginia team," head coach Mark French said. "We are definitely looking forward to representing the West Coast well in Norfolk."
Fifth-seeded Old Dominion will face No. 12 Liberty in the other regional first round game Sunday at 4:00 p.m. PDT in ODU's Ted Constant Convocation Center, with the winners meeting on Tuesday, March 25 with a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16 at stake. The exact second round start time will be determined Monday. The Regional Semifinals will then be held in Greensboro, N.C. on April 1.
Sunday's other two opening round contests in Norfolk -- but within the New Orleans Regional -- will be top-seeded North Carolina against No. 16 Bucknell and No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 9 Iowa.
UCSB enters NCAA Tournament play with an overall record of 23-7 after claiming the Big West's automatic bid for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons with a 75-59 victory over UC Davis in the conference tournament championship game on Saturday in Anaheim, Calif. Winners of 19 of their last 20 games, the Gauchos own a 7-11 record in 11 previous appearances in the Big Dance, including the program's first-ever Sweet 16 berth in 2004. Santa Barbara lost to Notre Dame 61-51 in its last NCAA appearance in 2005.
The Gauchos are 0-2 as a No. 13 seed in the tournament, also earning that draw in 1997 and 2005.
The University of Virginia (23-9) is an at-large selection out of the ACC and enters Sunday's match-up with an overall record of 23-9 after losing to eventual champion North Carolina in the semifinals of the conference tournament on March 8. The Cavaliers, who are currently ranked 23rd in the current USA Today/ESPN Top-25 Coaches' Poll, went 10-4 in ACC play and tied for third place in the league standings with Duke.
UCSB has split two previous meetings with UVa, defeating the Cavaliers 78-66 in the Thunderdome on December 28, 2000 before dropping a 72-71 decision in Charlottesville December 2, 2001.
"(Head coach) Debbie Ryan has done some excellent things at Virginia over the years and it's always nice to coach against some of leading coaches in the women's game," French stated. "Sunday's game will be a great challenge for us."
Meanwhile Old Dominion enters the Big Dance with a 29-4 overall mark after winning a 17th consecutive Colonial Athletic Association Tournament title and Liberty was an automatic qualifier as well, with a record of 28-3 on the heels an 11th Big South Conference Tournament Championship. The Gauchos have never faced the Monarchs or the Lady Flames.
All of UCSB's NCAA Tournament contests will be broadcast live on both KIST 1340AM and KCSB 91.9 FM or online at www.kcsb.org. In addition, ESPN and ESPN2 will televise all tournament games live with the Gauchos' tilt with the Cavaliers and Tuesday's second round game both airing on ESPN2.
Ticket prices for Sunday's first round have been set at $25, which includes admission to both the Old Dominion-Liberty and UCSB-Virginia games. Tickets will be available beginning Tuesday, March 18 at 9:00 a.m. by calling the UCSB Athletic Ticket Office at (805) 893-UCSB.