Is it possible to earn a #1 seed and still get snubbed by the NCAA Selection Committee.
That's how the Notre Dame women's basketball team feels.
Muffet's Squad is the #1 seed in the Norfolk Region but will not play on a neutral site to open the NCAA Tournament. The Irish expected to play in Columbus, where their is no host team. Instead the committee gave the neutral court to 3rd seeded UCLA.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, heads to Iowa City and will open with #16 Tennessee Martin Sunday at 5pm. If the Irish win, they could face host Iowa in the 2nd round. The Hawkeyes face Miami in the 8-9 matchup.
"I really thought they'd protect the #1 seed," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said Monday night at Notre Dame's Selection Show watch party. "I thought that was maybe their goal in the tournament--keep us close to home, our crowd would definitely be there."
"I worry about going to Iowa and somebody else's court but they make the call and we are ready to go no matter where the game is."
So what could the selection committee's rationale be?
"I can't imagine there is any rationale behind it," McGraw answered. "It makes no sense to me."
McGraw says the Irish will now use this as motivation as they try again to clear that final hurdle.
The Fighting Irish are eyeing a third straight run to the NCAA championship game, and this time they hope to capture the title after coming up short the past two years.
With senior guard Skylar Diggins leading the way, Notre Dame (31-1) won the Big East tournament for the first time after going undefeated in conference play during the regular season.The Irish's only loss was to Baylor, the team that beat them in the championship game last year.
Forward Natalie Achonwa says the Irish "still have that bitter taste" from losing two straight finals.
If Notre Dame advances to the Sweet 16, it would be in Norfolk. Potential Sweet 16 opponents are #4 South Carolina and #5 Colorado. Potential regional final opponents are #2 Duke and #3 Texas A&M.
If the seeds hold, Notre Dame would face UConn in the Final Four for the 3rd straight year. The Irish cannot battle Baylor until the national championship.