Old Dominion Receives A Seven Seed in Mideast Regional

March 11, 2002
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

March 11, 2002

AP Sports Writer

Tennessee performed over the long haul, Vanderbilt at the end.

Ultimately, the Commodores won out.

Vanderbilt edged out conference rival Tennessee for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA women's basketball tournament Sunday and joined Connecticut, Duke and Oklahoma at the top of the brackets.

Top-ranked Connecticut (33-0) is the overwhelming favorite in the tournament and was the No. 1 seed in the Mideast Regional. The Huskies will begin their quest for a third national championship at home against St. Francis, champion of the Northeast Conference.

Duke was the No. 1 seed in the East, Vanderbilt in the Midwest and Oklahoma in the West.

Vanderbilt was the surprise of the top four. The Commodores (27-6) finished three games behind regular-season champion Tennessee (25-4) in the Southeastern Conference standings, but split two late games with the Lady Vols and won the conference tournament.

"They've always said the last 10 games are really important, and I've heard that over and over and over again," Vanderbilt coach Jim Foster said. "It's reinforcing something that they're saying, the reality of, `We say it, we mean it.'

"I'm not surprised by it."

Tennessee lost to LSU in the semifinals of the SEC tournament and also had a late-season loss to Texas. The Lady Vols were the No. 2 seed in the Midwest, and that puzzled coach Pat Summitt as much as not being a No. 1.

Why, she asked, would you put the two top teams from the SEC in the same regional?

"I thought we had earned (a No. 1) with the schedule we played and our RPI number one the country and we only lost one conference game in the SEC which had eight teams get in the tournament," Summitt said.

"So the conference tournament it appears, not only in our bracket but all brackets, really became more of a factor than I had anticipated."

The three other No. 1 seeds all won their conference tournaments and regular-season titles.

It's only the second time in the last 15 years that Tennessee, a six-time national champion, has not been a No. 1 seed. The Lady Vols were seeded third in 1997 - and won the national championship.

"The committee came down to how teams did at the very end and we just really felt that Vanderbilt deserved that number one," said Maryalyce Jeremiah, who chairs the committee.

As for putting Tennessee and Vanderbilt in the same region, Jeremiah said it was done to remain true to the seeds. Vanderbilt ranked fourth among the No. 1 seeds, Tennessee was first among the No. 2-seeded teams.

"We would have compromised Tennessee's seed in order to move them," Jeremiah said. "If we would have moved them to another region, it theoretically would have made them play someone with a higher seed."

Connecticut was the top overall No. 1 seed, followed by Oklahoma, Duke and Vanderbilt. UConn was a No. 1 seed for the eighth time in nine years and got this one after a dominating season. The Huskies have won by an average of 37 points and only one team, Virginia Tech, kept the margin in single digits.

Invincible? Not necessarily, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said.

"We played about seven or eight teams this year that I thought if we didn't play well, we had a chance to lose," Auriemma said. "If we go in thinking we're unbeatable, we're going to get beat, just like everybody else who thinks like that."

Duke received a No. 1 seed for the second straight year, and Oklahoma for the first time. Vanderbilt had been a No. 1 seed twice previously, in 1993 and 1995.

The other No. 2s were Baylor in the East, Purdue in the Mideast and Stanford in the West.

In the women's tournament, the top four seeds in each region are the sites for first- and second-round games. Eight sites will have games on Friday and the eight others on Saturday.

Second-round games are Sunday and Monday and those winners advance to regionals in Raleigh (East), Milwaukee (Mideast), Ames, Iowa (Midwest) and Boise (West). The Final Four is in San Antonio. In the national semifinals, it will be the Mideast against the Midwest and East against the West.

Louisiana Tech is conspicuously absent from the top 16 seeds. The Lady Techsters (25-4), who won the Western Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles, are the No. 5 seed in the East.

This is the first time Tech has not been seeded among the top 16 since 1993. Tech plays Cal Santa Barbara in Austin, Texas, on Friday.

"You have to live with it and we will deal with," Tech coach Leon Barmore said.

The brackets are laden with Southeastern Conference, Big 12 and Big Ten teams.

The SEC matched its record with eight teams in the tournament. That group includes Georgia, which went 6-8 in the league but is 19-10 overall and has a strong RPI. The Lady Bulldogs were selected ahead of Alabama, 7-7 in the SEC.

Also in from the SEC are Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

Oklahoma and Baylor are among seven Big 12 teams in the field, joining Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas and Texas Tech. All seven Big 12 teams were seeded among the top 16 and will start the tournament at home.

The Big Ten put six in the tournament: Purdue, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin. Wisconsin made it despite a late season collapse during which the Badgers lost 10 of 13. They started 15-1 and were ranked as high as fifth.