Oregon, OSU women both return to NCAA Tournament
The Oregon and Oregon State women’s basketball teams were chosen Monday for return trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Fresh off the first Pac-12 Tournament championship in program history, the Ducks were awarded a No. 2 seed and will host the first two rounds of the tournament. They’ll be looking to extend their school-record 30-win season against No. 15 seed Seattle University on Friday in Matthew Knight Arena (4:30 p.m. PDT, ESPN2).
Oregon State, meanwhile, is a No. 6 seed and will open play in Knoxville, Tennessee, against 11th-seeded Western Kentucky on Friday (9 a.m. PDT, ESPN2).
Oregon’s No. 2 seed is the highest in school history, ahead of the No. 3 seed earned by the 1984 team.
“In a season of many firsts, we can add now one more,” UO coach Kelly Graves said Monday afternoon, at a selection show watch party in MKA attended by hundreds of fans.
The Ducks (30-4) hope to see those fans and thousands more on Friday, when the arena hosts two first-round games. No. 7 seed Green Bay and No. 10 seed Minnesota will meet Friday at 2 p.m., followed by the Ducks and Redhawks.
The winners will meet Sunday (time TBA, ESPN2) for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
Oregon is playing in the Spokane Regional, and thus could stay in the Pacific Northwest by winning twice this weekend.
But after surprising many by earning a No. 10 seed and making it to the Elite Eight last season, the Ducks know not to take anything for granted.
“We still have to play with a chip on our shoulder and come out and get the job done,” senior guard Lexi Bando said.
Oregon won the Pac-12 regular-season title with a 16-2 record, led by conference player of the year Sabrina Ionescu and fellow first-team all-conference selections Ruthy Hebard and Maite Cazorla. Wing Satou Sabally was named conference freshman of the year.
The Ducks beat Colorado to open the conference tournament, then fended off a top-10 foe in the semifinals, UCLA, before dominating perennial conference power Stanford in the title game.
Seattle is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. Seattle was the No. 4 seed into the tournament and knocked off top-seeded New Mexico State in the semifinals before upending second-seeded Cal State Bakersfield in the final, 57-54.
Seattle averages 68.9 points per game and holds opponents to a .393 shooting percentage.
The Redhawks are led by 5-foot-10 wing Alexis Montgomery, a Beaverton native who averages 18.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
The first game Friday matches the Horizon League champ, Green Bay, with Minnesota of the Big Ten.
“We want it to be a showcase for the country,” Graves said. “To see, A), what great fans we have, and B), hopefully what a great team we have.”
Added Bando: “To be able to host is incredible. We have the best fans, and to play on our home court again, that is where we’re at our best. When the fans get involved, it’s just a great atmosphere.”
Should Oregon State advance, it will play on Sunday against the winner of No. 3 seed Tennessee and No. 14 seed Liberty. The second-round winner will head to the Sweet 16 at the Lexington Regional.
This season marks the fifth-straight season Oregon State has made the NCAA Tournament, the most consecutive tournament runs in program history.
The Beavers head to this year’s NCAA Tournament with a record of 23-7 — its fifth straight 20-win campaign.
Oregon State has made the Sweet 16 in back-to-back seasons, including a Final Four run in 2016.