Good News, Bad News
By Nick Barbaro,
2:44PM, Tue. Nov. 7, 2006
The UT Lady Longhorns got invited to the Dance on Monday. In fact, they were greeted as one of the four guests of honor by the NCAA – and then ushered to their table in a far corner of the room, next to the bathrooms, and behind a column. Gee, thanks, I think.
The Horns got a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, a big surprise for the team and coach Chris Petrucelli. On the other hand, unlike all the other No. 1 (and No. 2) seeds, UT has to go on the road for their first two games. In fact, they have to go all the way to Storrs, Conn.; only one other team in the 64-team field got sent anywhere near as far from home (California at Florida State).
Don't get me wrong; the Huskies' facility should be a great place to play – it just this weekend hosted the Big East tournament – but the UT braintrust must be wondering just how these pairings are determined.
The team UT beat out for the top seeding was preseason No. 1 UCLA. But it's a dubious honor; the Bruins are the second seed in UT's quarter of the bracket, and get to play their opening round games at home, as do Florida and Utah, the third and fourth seeds in this quarter. And Texas A&M – whom the Horns beat in the regular season, then beat out for the conference tournament title – got just a third seed, but also get to play at home. (The Big 12, with both Colorado and Oklahoma State earning No. 4 seeds, became, surprisingly, the only conference with four seeded teams.)
On the plus side, the Horns have been a great road team this year; they've won nine straight away from home (and 10 straight overall). And they should be a cut above the teams they'll face:
On Friday, Nov. 10, UT faces Long Island University (13-7-1), the Northeast Conference champ.
Connecticut (10-7-3) meets Ivy League champ Columbia (10-4-3) in the other first-round match Friday.
The winners play on Sunday, Nov. 12. And if the Horns survive that (as they should), they stand a chance of hosting the subregional on the following weekend. At least, I think they do.