The BYU bench celebrates a basket in the WCC Tournament. (Decker Westenburg)

BYU women’s basketball going dancing as 6-seed in NCAA Tournament

The BYU women’s basketball team is going dancing for the third-straight NCAA Tournament, being revealed as a six-seed in the Wichita Region on Selection Sunday.

The BYU women will head to Ann Arbor, Michigan to play 11-seed Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 19. If the Cougars are able to move onto the second round they would play the winner of 14-seed American and 3-seed Michigan, who is hosting.

“We are really excited to have a chance to get to the tournament and get to play,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said, adding that, “It’s really not where you are seeded, it’s about the matchup.”

The six seed is the highest the women’s team has received in the NCAA Tournament in program history.

“It means that we are getting better,” Judkins said about earning the highest seed in BYU history. “Six is a good seed, last year we were an 11-seed. The year we went to the Sweet Sixteen we were an 11-seed, so it’s a good bracket for us.”

BYU finished the regular season with a record of 26-3 and earned its highest ranking in program history at 15 in the AP Poll. The Cougars also won their first outright WCC regular-season title since the 2015-16 season. They will look to rebound from a disappointing loss to Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament Championship game.

“We couldn’t have done any more than we did this year. We tried to schedule every tough game,” Judkins said. “Losing the game Tuesday was worse than the feeling of being a six-seed. That bothers them the most.”

BYU is looking to improve on last year’s tournament run when it lost a heartbreaker to national runner-up Arizona in the second round. The Cougars have big hopes to make a deep run in the tournament but don’t want to overlook the task at hand.

“We’re just going to have the mindset of one game at a time,” senior guard Tegan Graham said. “Everyone is just super excited for what’s ahead.”

Paisley Harding talked after learning their seed and matchup that she and the team feel like they can compete with any team in the country and that they will embrace the “underdog” role.

“I’ve believed that since day one. Since the ball tipped in the first game,” Harding said. “I love the underdog story. America loves underdog stories. So I’m excited to go in as an underdog.”

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