Women's Basketball

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Notre Dame Women Get No. 1 Seed in NCAA Tournament
The Irish react to the NCAA draw
 
The Irish react to the NCAA draw

March 12, 2012

Notre Dame NCAA Tournament Central

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw sees some encouraging similarities between her current Irish team and the one that won the national championship in 2001.

The Irish are a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, just as they were 11 years ago. They're coming off a loss to UConn in the BIG EAST finals, just like 2001. And they get to start the tourney on their home floor, another parallel.

"In 2001 we lost in the BIG EAST final and it was only our second loss, and it kind of motivated us to get to the national championship game," McGraw said Monday. "We are coming into the same situation this year. ... We would love to repeat what we did the last time we got a No. 1 seed in 2001. We have some good karma there and we were able to win the national championship."

Notre Dame (30-3), the runner-up a year ago, will meet Big South champion Liberty (24-8) on Sunday at the Purcell Pavilion in the Raleigh region. Win that game, and it will play No. 8-seeded California or ninth-seeded Iowa.

"I'm just glad to be playing at home," said McGraw, who is taking the Irish to the NCAAs for a 17th straight year and 19th overall.

As a No. 2 seed last season, Notre Dame knocked off Tennessee in the regional finals and UConn in the semifinals before losing to Texas A&M 76-70 in the national championship game. A&M is also in the Raleigh region.

"We do have some unfinished business but we can't afford to look ahead. It will be some good motivation to keep improving to get to that game. We have to look at the 16 seed and that has to be our focus," McGraw said.

But don't think the loss in the title game last season hasn't motivated the Irish. When you beat the two marquee powers in women's basketball back to back then don't finish off the tournament, the disappointment lingers for a while.

 

 

"Getting the top seed is like opening up a Christmas present and getting the gift you wanted. We got the gift we wanted. It reflects on the season that we had, our 30-win accomplishment in the regular season and all of us have been waiting for this moment since we lost in the championship," said star guard Skylar Diggins.

"Obviously getting back to the championship game has been in the back of our minds. But we are starting over. We are only guaranteed one game. If you don't win, you don't go on."

Notre Dame's three losses this season came to overall No. 1 seed Baylor on the road, to West Virginia at home and then to UConn in the BIG EAST tourney final, a week after the Irish defeated the Huskies for the second time this season to capture the regular-season championship outright.

Between the losses to Baylor and West Virginia, they reeled off 21 straight victories.

Diggins (17 points per game), guard Natalie Novosel (15), forward/center Devereaux Peters (12.2) and guard Kayla McBride (11.6) all averaged in double figures in McGraw's 25th season with the Irish.

Playing on their home floor should be a huge advantage. The Irish were 15-1 at the Purcell Pavilion, the only blemish a surprising two-point loss to the Mountaineers. At home this season, Notre Dame also beat UConn in overtime and routed Tennessee by 28.

Now the regular season is behind the Irish, and all that matters is what's ahead, starting Sunday on their home floor.

"I think from Day 1 of the season we wanted to fast forward to this moment. You could tell in our first game that we wanted to come out and win it all. At first we thought that we had to be perfect but as the season went on, we settled in and got it rolling. We calmed down," Diggins said.

"I think we put a lot more expectation on ourselves than others put on us. ... Some people get all caught up in the numbers part of it. But it's a game. It is what we have worked hard for, to get to this point. To enjoy the college experience. We have had a great time this year with our success and handling our failures."

Event Calendar

Delta

November 3
7:00 PM
Roberts Wesleyan
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)
November 11
7:00 PM
Central Michigan Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 14
7:00 PM
WNIT Quarterfinals
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 17
7:00 PM
WNIT Semifinals
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 20
3:00 PM
WNIT Final
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

CBS Sports Network
November 22
8:00 PM
UL-Lafayette
Houston, Texas (Campbell Center)
November 26
1:00 PM
TCU
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
November 30
9:00 PM
Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa (Carver-Hawkeye Arena)

BTN
December 4
1:00 PM
Valparaiso
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
December 7
7:00 PM
UConn
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
December 10
8:00 PM
DePaul
Chicago, Ill. (McGrath-Phillips Arena)
December 18
2:00 PM
Toledo
Toledo, Ohio (Savage Arena)
December 20
7:00 PM
Michigan State
East Lansing, Mich. (Breslin Center)

BTN
December 27
6:30 PM
Chattanooga
Chattanooga, Tenn. (McKenzie Arena)
December 29
7:00 PM
North Carolina State
Raleigh, N.C. (Reynolds Coliseum)

ACC Network Extra
January 2
7:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Atlanta, Ga. (McCamish Pavilion)
January 5
7:00 PM
Wake Forest
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
January 8
3:00 PM
Miami
Coral Gables, Fla. (BankUnited Center)

ESPN Flex
January 12
7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Notre Dame, Ind.

ACC Network Extra
January 16
7:00 PM
Tennessee
Knoxville, Tenn. (Thompson-Boling Arena)

ESPN2
January 19
7:00 PM
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Mass. (Conte Forum)
January 22
12:00 PM
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C. (Carmichael Arena)

ESPNU
January 26
7:00 PM
Duke
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
January 29
12:00 PM
Virginia
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPNU
February 2
7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Va. (Cassell Coliseum)
February 6
7:00 PM
Louisville
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
February 12
1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
February 16
7:00 PM
Clemson
Clemson, S.C. (Littlejohn Coliseum)
February 19
5:00 PM
Syracuse
Syracuse, N.Y. (Carrier Dome)

ESPN2
February 23
7:00 PM
Boston College
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ACC Network Extra
February 26
1:00 PM
Florida State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
March 17
TBA
NCAA First/Second Rounds
TBD
March 24
TBA
NCAA Regionals
TBD
March 31
TBA
NCAA Semifinals
Dallas, Texas (American Airlines Center)
April 2
TBA
NCAA Final
Dallas, Texas (American Airlines Center)

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