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March 12, 2012
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Four Atlantic Coast Conference teams are among the 64-team field for the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament announced Monday evening, and all four were tabbed as top-four seeds.
ACC champion Maryland (28-4) and ACC regular season champion Duke (24-5) were selected as No. 2 regional seeds. Miami (25-5) is a No. 3 seed while Georgia Tech (24-8) received a No. 4 seed. All four teams are ranked among the top 15 of the latest national polls and among the top 14 of the latest RPI report released by the NCAA.
Maryland returns to the NCAA Tournament for the program’s 20th all-time appearance and will be seeded No. 2 in the Raleigh Region. The Terrapins own a 28-18 NCAA Tournament and captured the national championship in 2006. Maryland, which posted a 12-4 mark in regular season play before storming to the ACC Tournament championship, will play host to 15th-seeded Navy (18-13), the Patriot League champion, in first-round action Saturday, March 17. If the Terps advance, they will also be at home for the second round on March 19. Maryland is led by ACC Player of the Year and ACC Tournament MVP Alyssa Thomas (17.4 points, 8.1 rebounds per game). Thomas is one of four Wooden Award finalists from the ACC that will compete in the NCAA Tournament, joining Miami senior Shenise Johnson and Riquna Willliams, and Duke freshman Elizabeth Williams.
Duke, which will be appearing in the NCAA postseason field for an ACC-best 18th consecutive year, drew the No. 2 seed in the Fresno Region. The Blue Devils will travel to Nashville, Tenn., for their opening-round game against No. 15 Samford (20-12) on Sunday, March 18. Williams (14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds per game) joins fellow first-team All-ACC selection Chelsea Gray (12.0 points, 6.0 assists) in leading Duke, which has advanced to at least the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament field 13 of the last 14 years, including a run to the Elite Eight last season. The Blue Devils, who will be appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the 19th time overall, owns an all-time record of 46-18 in the Big Dance.
Earning its second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth is Miami, which grabbed a No. 3 seed and will face No. 15 Idaho State (24-7), the Big Sky champion, on March 17th in Spokane, Wash., in the Kingston Region. The 2011-2012 Hurricanes finished the season in second in the ACC with a league mark of 14-2. Miami is led by 2011 ACC Player of the Year and three-time All-ACC First Team member Shenise Johnson, who partners in the backcourt with Riquna Williams, a member of the First Team for the past two years. Head coach Katie Meier is in her seventh season in Miami, and was named the AP National Coach of the Year and the ACC Coach of the Year last season. The Hurricanes will enter the NCAA Tournament as a third seed for only the second time in school history, and have compiled a 3-7 record in seven previous tournament appearances.
Georgia Tech, which reached the final of the ACC Tournament for the first time since 1992, tied a program record for wins in a season and earned a spot in the tournament as a No. 4 seed in the Raleigh region, the highest seed in school history. The Yellow Jackets posted their sixth-straight 20-win season en route to making their sixth-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and eighth overall. Georgia Tech, which finished the season with a 24-8 overall record, won a school-record 12 games in conference play. The Yellow Jackets are guided by senior center Sasha Goodlett and sophomore guard Tyaunna Marshall, who both earned All-ACC honors. Georgia Tech, which reached the second round last year, is 3-7 in NCAA Tournament history and will start its run in 2012 when it opens against No. 13 Sacred Heart (Northeast, 25-7) on Sunday, March 18 in Chapel Hill, N.C., in the Des Moines Region.
This marks the 18th consecutive year that at least four ACC teams have reached the NCAA Tournament field and the fourth time that all of the teams chosen have been seeded among the top five in their respective regions. The only other times all ACC teams chosen to participate in the NCAA Tournament were selected as top five seeds came in 1982, 1996 and 2011.
In 1982, three ACC teams earned postseason NCAA bids with Maryland, NC State and Clemson earning seeds No. 2, 3 and 5, respectively. In 1996, four ACC teams earned bids with Clemson, Virginia, Duke and NC State earning seeding No. 3, 3, 4 and 5, respectively. A record-six ACC teams earned NCAA Tournament top-five seeds last season with Duke seeded No. 2, Florida State and Miami at No. 3, Maryland No. 4, and Georgia Tech and North Carolina at No. 5.
First- and second-round games will be played at 16 sites Saturday, March 17 through Tuesday, March 20. The 16 second-round winners will compete at the four regional sites. The Des Moines Regional and the Fresno Regional will be played Saturday, March 24 and Monday, March 26, while the Raleigh Regional and the Kingston Regional will be held Sunday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 27. The four regional winners will advance to the 2012 NCAA Women’s Final Four, April 1 and 3, at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo.