Five Pac-12 teams selected to NCAA tournament

Eric Evans Photography

The top four Pac-12 women’s basketball teams were awarded home-court advantage Monday when the NCAA selectiom committee announced that five teams from the Conference of Champions made its field of 64.

[Related: 2015 NCAA women's basketball tournament bracket (NCAA.com)]

As hosts of the first two rounds of the women's Big Dance, No. 9 Arizona State, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 14 Stanford and No. 24 California all need just two home wins to make the Sweet 16, while the University of Washington will have to prevail in Big Ten country if it hopes to make it out of the opening week.

Here’s what each school faces when March Madness begins: 

Oregon State

Oregon State Beavers (26-4, 16-2 Pac-12): No. 3 seed, Spokane Region

Led by Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Ruth Hamblin and All-Pac-12 guards Sydney Wiese and Jamie Weisner, the Beavers won the conference regular season title for the first time in the program’s history and ended Stanford’s 14-year run as either champion or co-champion. Much credit goes to Scott Rueck, named the Coach of the Year, as the Beavers enter the NCAA women's tournament for the second year in a row. 

Their most recent blemish came when they were upset by Colorado in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament.

But it was Hamblin, the conference’s top defender, who helped the Beavers shut down offenses with her interior defense during the regular season. That will be key to their success when they host No. 14 seed South Dakota State (24-8) Friday at 2 p.m. PT (ESPN2) at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis. If the Beavers advance, they play the winner of No. 6 seed George Washington (29-3) and No. 11 seed Gonzaga (24-7) on Sunday at home for the right to advance to the Sweet 16 in Spokane. 

Arizona State

Arizona State Sun Devils (27-5, 15-3 Pac-12): No. 3 seed, Greensboro Region

After being picked by the media before the season to finish sixth in the conference, coach Charli Turner Thorne’s ASU team was ranked ninth in the country in the latest Associated Press poll, higher than any team in the Pac-12. (The Beavers are No. 10). 

Winners of six of their last seven, the Sun Devils open the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday at 3:30 p.m. PT against No. 14 seed Ohio (27-4) at Wells Fargo Arena (ESPN2). A win advances them to a March 23 matchup against No. 6 seed Texas A&M (23-9) or No. 11 seed University of Arkansas – Little Rock (28-4).

ASU’s No. 3 seed ties the highest NCAA tournament placement in program history, matched only by the 2006-07 team.

Stanford

Stanford Cardinal (24-9, 13-5 Pac-12): No. 4 seed, Oklahoma City Region

Unlike years’ past, this Stanford team isn’t chalked with superstars. But it’s dangerous after reeling off three wins in as many days to win the 2015 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament at KeyArena. When it beat rival California, 61-60, in the title game on March 8, the Cardinal earned the Pac-12’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and its 11th conference tournament championship in school history. Its reward?

Stanford hosts No. 13 seed Cal State Northridge (23-9) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. PT at Maples Pavilion (ESPN2). If it wins, coach Tara VanDerveer’s squad plays at home March 23 against the winner of No. 5 seed Oklahoma (20-11) and No. 12 seed Quinnipiac (31-3). 

California

California Golden Bears (23-9, 13-5 Pac-12): No. 4 seed, Albany Region

After the Golden Bears lost to Stanford by a single point in the Pac-12 Tournament finals, Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb delivered a passionate message to the NCAA women’s tournament selection committee saying Cal deserved to host the opening two rounds of the tournament.

The committee listened. Cal hosts No. 13 seed Wichita State (29-4) Friday at 4:30 p.m. PT (ESPN2) at Haas Pavilion, then, with a win, would host the winner of No. 5 Texas (22-10) vs. No. 12 Western Kentucky (30-4) Sunday in the second round. 

Washington

Washington (23-9, 11-7 Pac-12): No. 6 seed, Oklahoma City Regional

The Huskies are the only Pac-12 women’s basketball team to make the NCAA field that isn’t serving as host for the first and second rounds. 

That shouldn’t deter UW from celebrating after getting a No. 6 seed Monday. When the Huskies face No. 11 seed University of Miami (19-12), Friday at 9 a.m. PT, in Iowa City, Iowa, it will mark the Huskies’ first NCAA tourney game since 2007. A win and coach Mike Neighbors’ scrappy group plays Sunday against the winner of No. 3 seed Iowa’s (24-7) matchup with  No. 14 American (24-8). 

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