Arizona prepares for Florida
There was no surprise when "Arizona" flashed up on the television screen during yesterday's women's basketball tournament selection show, but it took a couple of seconds for everything to sink in.
"We saw Arizona up there, and it took three or four seconds for everybody to realize that we are Arizona," junior guard Felecity Willis said.
Arizona (17-10, 12-6 Pacific 10 Conference) is the No. 6 seed in the midwest and will play Florida (19-13, 6-8 Southeastern Conference), the No. 11 seed, in the first round at New Brunswick, N.J. at 4 p.m. Friday.
Florida's losing conference record makes the Gators the only team with a losing conference record ever to make the tournament field. A tournament-record eight teams from the SEC made the tournament.
"I'm very happy and proud of my team for working so hard and having a great second half of the season," UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "This is an opportunity to move on."
No. 3 seed Rutgers (26-5, 17-1 Big East Conference) will host the first and second round games, facing No. 14 seed Dartmouth (19-8) in the first round.
Arizona does not know much about Florida, but will be doing plenty of scouting during the next few days.
"They're an athletic team from a very tough conference," junior guard Lisa Griffith said. "I've only seen them play two games, so we're going to have to go look at the film."
Arizona finished the season this weekend, defeating Southern Cal Thursday and losing to UCLA Saturday.
"I don't want to say we have reached our peak," Bonvicini said. "We didn't play our best basketball this weekend."
Pac-10 co-champions UCLA and Oregon made the tournament as No. 3 and No. 5 seeds in the west and mideast, respectively. UCLA, which won the tiebreaker to determine the conference's automatic bid, will host the first and second rounds. They will take on Wisconsin-Green Bay, whom Arizona defeated 84-65 in its first game of the season.
Oregon will face No. 12 seed Cincinnati at Ames, Iowa.
Stanford is the Pac-10's final representative, getting the No. 7 seed in the East. The Cardinal will take on No. 10 seed Maine in the first round.
Bryan Rosenbaum can be reached at Bryan.Rosenbaum@wildcat.arizona.edu.