CRAWFORD | For Louisville women, another first: A No. 1 NCAA Tou - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | For Louisville women, another first: A No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed

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Jeff Walz speaks with ESPN during Monday's women's basketball NCAA selection show (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Jeff Walz speaks with ESPN during Monday's women's basketball NCAA selection show (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)
Jeff Walz's daughter, Lucy, plays with the Louisville mascot while her dad gets ready to go on ESPN. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Jeff Walz's daughter, Lucy, plays with the Louisville mascot while her dad gets ready to go on ESPN. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)
Louisville women's players react to the program's first-ever No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Louisville women's players react to the program's first-ever No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville women’s basketball team celebrated another first on Monday, when it was selected as the No. 1 seed in the Lexington Region for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.

It was the first time the Cardinals ever have been a No. 1 seed, though Coach Jeff Walz was quick to point out, the team’s success in the tournament never has hinged on seed.

“The No. 1 seed is great. We’ve had some pretty good success with a three seed (national runner-up) and a five seed (national runner-up) in the past,” Walz said. “We know it’s an honor to be a No. 1 seed, no question about that. The body of work has put us in place for that. But it’s game-in and game-out now. I’ve said it all along, I think we’re good enough to beat just about anybody, but I think there’s 35 teams out there that can beat us. We just went through the ACC Tournament and won three games in three days by a combined total of 10 points. So it’s not like we sat there and blew anybody out. That scares you some ways. But it also gives me confidence in these young women that we don’t panic when we’re behind. We know how to play.”

The Cardinals played their way to a 32-2 record, and experienced little drama during a selection show watch party in the Thornton’s Center for Academic Excellence in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. More than 500 fans turned out for the party, with more turned away because of space.

The Cardinals will face Boise State (23-9) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at noon Friday in the KFC Yum! Center. If they win, they’ll get the winner of Marquette-Dayton on Sunday. Two wins would send them to Rupp Arena in Lexington for a chance to go to the Final Four. In their way could be No. 2 seed Baylor, No. 3 Tennessee and No. 4 Stanford.

The Cards could get to the Final Four without leaving their home state, but they’ll have to earn it. They beat Tennessee reach the Sweet 16 last season, but fell to Baylor 96-63 in Oklahoma City. Baylor is No. 4 in the RPI this season, with a record of 31-1.

But Louisville has plenty to worry about before those potential rematches.

“We put the work in throughout the season to get to 32-2 and put ourselves into position to play these two games at home,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “We know every team in this tournament is good. A good friend of mine is the head coach at New Mexico so I’ve followed them and seen Boise play. They put points on the board and score well. We know we have our hands full before we need to worry about advancing to Lexington.”

For the players, it’s another step in an historic journey this season. The Cardinals won their first ACC regular-season and tournament titles, and achieved the program’s highest national-ranking ever.

“We’ve had the thought of making history through this whole year,” Asia Durr said. “We’re very excited at being a No. 1 seed, but one step at a time, one game at a time. . . . We know if we don’t take care of what we need to, we won’t be making the trip down (to Lexington).”

Myisha Hines-Allen said that each trip to the NCAA Tournament “everything is like new.” 

“It’s all since the summer, we’ve been working our way to become national champions, and this is just the start for us,” she said. “We’re just happy and thankful that the committee looked at us as a No. 1 seed.  … It’s amazing that we put ourselves in this position. It’s all out there for us if we want to go out and execute and listen to our coaches and follow game plans.”

Tickets for the first and second round games are available at www.GoCards.com/NCAAWBB.

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