UTC HEADED TO NCAAS
Matchup: No. 11 UTC vs. No. 6 Nebraska
When: Saturday, 6:30 EDT (ESPN2)
Where: College Station, Texas
Wes Moore got just about everything he wanted out of his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team's seeding, opponent and destination in the NCAA tournament.
When the brackets were released Monday night on ESPN, the Southern Conference champions learned they were an 11 seed in the Norfolk Region. They will face sixth-seeded Nebraska in the first round Saturday night at 6:30 EDT, and they will be playing in College Station, Texas.
Moore had said he felt the 29-3 Lady Mocs were worthy of at least a 12 seed. The Dallas-area native gets to return to his home state. Most importantly, his players won't be facing an opponent on its home court in the first round.
"We're playing the first game at least on a neutral court, and I think that's really big," said Moore, who has led UTC to the NCAA tournament nine times in his 15 seasons in Chattanooga. "There were a whole lot of teams hosting that could have been in that five or six seed area, so that worked out well."
UTC is 1-0 all-time against Nebraska, though that win was in 1979, a year before assistant coach Mike Murray was born. Murray quickly took off from the selection show viewing party at Big River Grille to begin getting video together on the Huskers (23-8), who finished second in the Big Ten. As of Monday, neither head coach had too much to offer about the other's team.
"I know very little about them other than they've won 19 in a row and beat Tennessee," Nebraska coach Connie Yori told the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star.
That 19-game win streak allowed UTC to tie a school record for wins in a season. The Lady Mocs are returning to the NCAAs for the first time since 2010, when they were a No. 13 seed and lost 70-63 to No. 4 seed Oklahoma State.
Senior Kayla Christopher was a freshman starter in 2010; she and fellow senior Kylie Lambert are the only players on UTC's roster with NCAA tournament experience.
"I think we have a good draw and I like where we're going," Christopher said.
If UTC wins it will play again Monday, against either host Texas A&M (24-9), a No. 3 seed, or No. 14 seed Wichita State (24-9).
After winning the SoCon tournament last Monday, UTC's players had a few days to enjoy spring break. They returned to practice Friday and Moore said he was able to relax for a little while -- at least until the selection show began.
"Our practices have been good and we've been able to hold them to about 90 minutes," he said. "I've got to admit, once I got in here tonight I started feeling some butterflies because, again, the matchup and where you're going -- playing somebody on their home court is a big challenge. I'm glad we were able to dodge that."
Moore said the Lady Mocs will leave for College Station on Thursday.