Heels to host 05 NCAA Women's tourney games

Dean E. Smith Center to be opening round site for women's NCAA in 2005.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The University of North Carolina has been selected as one of eight host schools for first and second-round NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament games in 2005, the NCAA announced Thursday. UNC will host the games, to be played on March 20 and 22, at the Dean E. Smith Center.

"We're thrilled that Carolina has been selected as a host school and we look forward to welcoming some outstanding teams here in March," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "The NCAA Tournament is always the most exciting time of the women's basketball season, and we're thankful that we're going to have the opportunity to play in front of our home crowd."

If the Tar Heels earn a 2005 NCAA Tournament berth, they'll be assigned to play in Chapel Hill. UNC, 24-7 last season, has secured a spot in 11 of the last 13 tournament fields. The program has made 16 appearances overall and won the NCAA Championship in 1994.

Carolina has hosted NCAA Tournament action on 11 previous occasions, most recently in 2002, the last year in which host teams were chosen based on their tournament seeding. In 2003, the NCAA began selecting sites months in advance of the bracket announcement.

The 2005 event will be the first women's tournament to use the format of eight teams at eight sites. Each site will host four games on the first day of play and two on the second, with the two winners advancing on to regional play. Previously, the women's tournament featured four teams at each of 16 sites.

Other sites for the 2005 NCAA Tournament first and second round games are Reunion Arena in Dallas (Texas and Texas Tech, hosts); Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. (Cal State-Fresno, host); Williams Arena in Minneapolis (Minnesota, host); Bank of America Arena in Seattle (Washington, host); Comcast Center in College Park, Md. (Maryland, host); Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. (Connecticut, host) and Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn. (Tennessee, host). The Dallas, Fresno, Minneapolis and Seattle sites will host games on March 19 and 21, while Chapel Hill, College Park, Storrs and Knoxville will host on March 20 and 22.

The NCAA also announced the sites for first and second round games in 2006. Those sites are Chicago (DePaul, host); Denver (Colorado, host); Nashville (Vanderbilt, host); Norfolk, Va. (Old Dominion, host); Trenton, N.J. (Rider and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, hosts); Tuscon, Ariz. (Arizona, host); University Park, Pa. (Penn State, host) and West Lafayette, Ind. (Purdue, host). The dates for 2006 have yet to be announced.

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