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After a one-year absence, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team is back in the Big Dance.
On Monday afternoon the Wildcats received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky is the No. 6 seed in the Greensboro (N.C.) Region and will begin its tournament run against No. 11 seed Princeton on Saturday.
The team learned its tournament fate a couple hours earlier than expected. ESPN was supposed to televise the NCAA Selection Show at 7 p.m. Monday, but its college sports channel, ESPNU, inadvertently revealed a large portion of the bracket around 4 p.m. After the pairings were shared around social media for an hour, ESPN issued an apology, then made the decision to move the Selection Show broadcast to 5 p.m. and quickly unveiled the official bracket.
Kentucky’s first- and, if it wins, second-round games will be played in Raleigh, N.C. Kentucky (24-7) meets Princeton (22-9) at 11 a.m. Saturday in a game that will be televised on ESPN2. The winner will take on either host and No. 3 seed North Carolina State (26-5) or No. 14 seed Maine (25-7) on Monday.
After the opening two rounds, the regional semifinals and finals will be held in Albany, N.Y.; Greensboro, N.C.;, Portland, Ore.; and Chicago. The Final Four will be played in Tampa, Fla. The two national semifinal games will be played on April 5 and the national championship on April 7.
Kentucky was ranked No. 17 in the most recent Associated Press poll on Monday and No. 17 in the latest coaches’ poll. The Wildcats finished fourth in the Southeastern Conference, going 11-5 in league play. Their tournament resume included victories over South Carolina and UCLA, ranked No. 15 and 20, respectively, in the latest AP poll.
Princeton earned its spot in the NCAA field by defeating Pennsylvania to win the Ivy League Tournament. Those two teams tied for the regular-season championship.
▪ The only other team from Kentucky to earn a berth in the NCAA field was Louisville. The Cardinals were awarded the No. 1 seed in the Albany (N.Y.) Regional and will host first- and second-round games at the KFC Yum Center.
▪ Kentucky was one of seven SEC teams to make the NCAA field, joining Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Auburn, South Carolina and Missouri.
▪ The four No. 1 seeds are Louisville (Albany Regional), Mississippi State (Portland Regional), defending national champion Notre Dame (Chicago Regional) and Baylor (Greensboro Regional).