RALEIGH, N.C. – Women’s college basketball in the Triangle is alive and well as the 2014 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament prepares to get underway beginning on Saturday.
The ninth-ranked Duke Blue Devils (27-6), 12th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels (24-9), and the 16th-ranked NC State Wolfpack (25-7) will all begin first-round play as second, fourth, and fifth seeds respectively.
Following ACC-champion Notre Dame, a No. 1 seed, all three teams hold the next highest seeds as a part of a league record eight Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) squads participating in the 64-team tournament field that was revealed on Monday.
The ACC’s eight bids to the Big Dance are tied for the most of any league with the SEC which also received eight.
Maryland (24-6), a No. 4 seed, Syracuse (22-9), a No. 6 seed, and Florida State (20-11) and Georgia Tech (20-11), as No. 10 seeds, round out the league’s representatives in this year’s tournament.
It is also the 20th consecutive year that at least four ACC teams have been selected to the NCAA championship field.
The Blue Devils will be appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the 20th consecutive year as the No. 2 seed in the Lincoln Region.
Cameron Indoor Stadium will serve as one local host site for the first and second rounds of play and the Blue Devils will hold home-court advantage when they play No. 15 seed Winthrop (24-8) on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Duke has advanced to the Sweet 16 in 15 of the last 16 seasons, including a run to the Elite Eight each of the last four seasons.
The Blue Devils will be appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the 21st time overall and own an all-time record of 52-20 in NCAA postseason play, including two championship finalist finishes in 1999 and 2006.
The Tar Heels earned a No. 4 seed and will participate in the Big Dance for a league-best 25th time in program history.
Entering the postseason with a 42-23 all-time NCAA Tournament record, UNC will host No. 13 seed UT Martin (24-7) in the Stanford Region at Carmichael Arena on Sunday at 3 p.m.
The Tar Heels have advanced to the Sweet 16 round of play 15 times and have earned a berth in the Final Four three times, and possess the Triangle-area’s only NCAA championship trophy (1994).
NC State, the No. 5 seed in the Lincoln Region, returns to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010 and for the 22nd time overall.
The Wolfpack will face No. 12 seed BYU in Los Angeles on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
The entire NCAA Tournament will air across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, WatchESPN and ESPN FULL COURT beginning with first-round action on Saturday, March 22.