Selection Monday

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Before the Notre Dame women's basketball team begins its quest for a national championship, the Fighting Irish and their loyal fans gathered in Club Naimoli at the Purcell Pavilion on Monday evening for an NCAA tournament selection show party.

While the men's bracket was unveiled yesterday on CBS, the women's field of 64 was announced on ESPN. Yesterday, Coach Brey's team awaited the location, seeding and opponent of its NCAA matchup.

In the women's bracket, Notre Dame is a host site and the Fighting Irish's 30-3 record all but assured them a #1 seed. Coach McGraw's squad only had to await the announcement to see who it would play in its first round matchup on Sunday, and what the road might look like in the journey to the Final Four.

As the team awaited the announcement, Fighting Irish Digital Media sat down with a few of the fans, many of whom described the special relationship they have developed with the Notre Dame women's basketball program over the years.

Fans explained that, "it's like a family," saying they had formed friendships with the players and coaches over their years, or decades, cheering for the Irish.

"The really special part about this team is that the girls so genuinely care about each other...It's not just on the basketball court," said another fan.

From listening to the Irish fans, you really get the sense that those caring feelings are reciprocated. If you didn't know better, you might think the faithful in their lime green shirts were cheering on their own daughters, granddaughters, nieces or neighbors.

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Coach McGraw, spoke to the fans in attendance at the start of the program, expressing her gratitude for their support. "We wouldn't be here without you," she said.

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Everyone moved their attention to the Purcell Pavilion videoboard to see a 2011-12 highlight reel featuring Beyonce's "Love on Top," before gathering around the Club Naimoli TVs in preparation for the selection show broadcast.

Two of the four 16-team brackets were announced, as the Irish anticipated their tournament draw.

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Then at 7:20 pm, ESPN revealed the third bracket, announcing Notre Dame as the #1 seed in the Raleigh region, where the BIG EAST regular season champions will play #16 seed Liberty, out of the Big South conference in the first round.

This year marks the first time the Irish have earned a #1 seed since 2001, the year in which they won the national championship in St. Louis.

Notre Dame's first round game is scheduled for Sunday, Mar. 18 at 2:30 pm ET in the Purcell Pavilion and it will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Check back to UND.com for more coverage of the Irish as they begin the exciting time that is, March Madness.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

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