clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NCAA Women’s Tournament: Arizona Wildcats headed to Maryland as a No. 7 seed

The UA will face West Virginia in the first round of the tournament

arizona-wildcats-ncaa-womens-basketball-tournament-maryland-west-virginia-holy-cross-2023-bracket Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Committee apparently likes reunions.

The seventh-seeded Arizona Wildcats are set to play tenth-seeded West Virginia in the first round, matching up current UA starter Esmery Martinez against the team she was a member of for three years.

“We’ve been talking about our potential matchups,” fifth-year senior Cate Reese said. “I think we’re excited. I know Es is excited.”

The Wildcats and Mountaineers will play in College Park, Md. with the winner possibly advancing to play the second-seeded Maryland Terrapins, who will first face off against Holy Cross. If the winners are Arizona and Maryland, the Wildcats would match up against a UA alumna in Maryland head coach Brenda Frese.

There are other ties, as well. Bett Shelby, who came to Tucson as the special assistant to the head coach before the season, spent three years at Maryland and came to Arizona from West Virginia.

As for whether she thought the committee likes those kinds of story lines, Arizona head coach Adia Barnes agreed that they probably do.

Arizona was a little surprised by the seed after being in the top 16 prior to the final week of the regular season. The two losses to end Pac-12 play and losing its only game in the conference tournament dropped UA three seed lines.

“I think we were all a little bit surprised,” Reese said. “I think we thought we’d be a little bit of a lower seed.”

The surprise wasn’t a surprise in other ways. ESPN’s telecast showed the entire region, including all seedings and matchups, long before they got around to announcing the teams.

“It took away from the suspense a little bit,” Barnes said.

The location may be far from Tucson, but it’s close to home for some Wildcats. Point guard Shaina Pellington said she would have a lot of family there since her home in Pickerington, Ontario is about a 10-hour drive away.

Arizona and West Virginia will meet in the Greenville Regional, which is where the top overall seed South Carolina roams. Other notables in the region are No. 3 seed Notre Dame and No. 4 seed UCLA.

The first round is set to be held on March 17-18 with the date and time yet to be determined.

As for how the team feels going in after having the season end like it did, it’s a new season.

“All you gotta do is get hot at the right time,” Pellington said.