"I think we have to be happy," Portland said. "When we left the [Big Ten] tournament, I wasn't sure what was going to happen."
Last year, although Penn State was awarded a No. 1 seed, it had to play Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., in the second round and Connecticut in Hartford in the Elite Eight. This year, the Lady Lions could face the Hokies again in the second round if No. 12 Virginia Tech can get past No. 5 DePaul.
Although Penn State's regular season record was not particularly impressive, Portland said she thinks the team's strength of schedule out of conference really helped the Lady Lions get the four seed.
"It was worth it to go out and play all the people we played," she said. "What we're trying to do is a good thing."
Penn State has been resting since it lost to Michigan State 83-76 in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament. Portland said she was disappointed with the team's performance against Michigan State, but the fact that the Spartans went on to win the tournament helped Penn State with its seeding. Portland said the team must focus on improving its defense to make noise in the upcoming weeks.
"That's the easiest thing to fix, which is why I'm so optimistic right now," she said.
Overall, the Big Ten put five teams in the tournament. Michigan State received a one seed in the Kansas City Regional. Ohio State received a two seed and Purdue received a nine seed in the Philadelphia Regional. And finally, Minnesota got a three seed in the Tempe Regional.
Liberty won the Big South for the ninth consecutive year, but has never won a game in the NCAA tournament. The Lady Flames are led by 6-foot-8 Katie Feenstra, who led the Big South in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocks. Liberty's only regular season matchup against a Big Ten team was a 66-51 loss at Ohio State.