Cal women's basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb could hardly be heard amid the din of Monday's selection-party gathering, but listen closely, and you may pick up a few things about the Bears' opening opponent.
The eighth-seeded Bears will face ninth-seeded North Carolina in the foirst round of the NCAA Tournament in Waco, Texas. If Cal wins that game it will play again on Monday against the host Baylor Bears, who are the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament.
Gottlieb said it's impossible not to notice that Baylor would be a second-round game, but added that would not prevent the Bears from focusing on the Tar Heels.
“It’s inevitable that you’re thinking about who the host is, because that’s where you’re going,” Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “That said, Is there a more storied name in college athletics than North Carolina? I don’t think it’s going to be hard to get our players to focus on the jerseys that are right in front of us for the first game.”
The Tar Heels were the national champions in 1994, reached the Final two other times, and got as far as the Elite Eight three times besides that. That's six times that UNC reached at least the national quarterfinals, and it was all under coach Sylvia Hatchell, who is still their coach.
This season UNC finished 18-14, but as Gottlieb mentions, North Carolinba beat Notre Dame when the Irish were No. 1 and knocked off North Carolina State on the road when the Wolfpack was No. 7.
According to ESPN, North Carolina, UCLA, Arkansas and Tennessee were the last four teams to get in as at-large teams.