Posted Sunday, March 14, 7:30 p.m.
The GW women’s basketball team will return to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year as a No. 8 seed in the Midwest region, as tournament selections were announced Sunday evening. The Colonials will play No. 9 DePaul from Conference USA on Saturday in Tallahassee, Florida and would likely play No. 1 seed Tennessee in the second round.
“I am excited to be playing, especially on a neutral floor this year,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said. “I am not really concerned with our seed because unlike the men’s tournament the committee is trying to squeeze teams into home sites and locations closer to their homes.”
Despite the fact that GW did not earn an automatic bid by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament, the selection committee gave the Colonials an at-large bid. The last time GW failed to win the A-10 in 2002, the team was snubbed from the tourney and instead played in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. After winning the A-10 title last year, the Colonials beat Oklahoma in the first round before getting knocked out by Villanova in the second round.
With Sunday’s bid, the team has now gone to the NCAA Tournament 11 times in head coach Joe McKeown’s 14-year tenure.
“Going to the tournament almost ever year helps us in recruiting because we have that great tradition of going,” McKeown said. “I think the University expects us to go ever year because we are an elite team. Personally, we do the best we can every year and it’s a reward to go but I don’t put pressure on myself to go every year.”
DePaul (22-6) was another team to receive an at-large bid. The Blue Demons lost to Marquette in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament, 74-70. Marquette also made the tournament as a No. 9 seed in the Mideast region.
DePaul, which has been consistently ranked throughout the season, led C-USA in scoring by averaging over 80 points per game. The Blue Demons are led by Khara Smith, who ranked second in C-USA scoring with 22 points per game, and Charlene Smith, who ranked sixth in conference scoring with 18 points per game.
“It’s going to be a great match-up,” McKeown said. ” The love to score and run so we are going to have to work on defense throughout the week to prepare.”
If GW advances, they might get a rematch against the Lady Volunteers (26-3), who will square off against No. 16 Colgate for a chance to play the winner of the GW-DePaul match-up. In December, Tennessee came to the Smith Center and defeated the Colonials 65-51.
” Tallahassee is a good place to go and play,” McKeown said. “Playing Tennessee at a neutral floor is much better than having to play them at Knoxville.”
Other notables in the Midwest region are Oklahoma, Florida, Rutgers, New Mexico and Vanderbilt. The Colonials lost at Florida (18-10) 80-62 earlier in the season.