It's Go Time - NCAA Bracket Announced

After the magical run of 2007, which ended in the national championship game, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (24-6, 14-2) are back in the NCAA tournament. Rutgers received a #2 seed from the selection committee after the brackets were announced on Monday evening.

Rutgers (24-6, 14-2) is back in the NCAA tournament and has been granted a #2 seed in the Greensboro Region. The Scarlet Knights open up play against 15th-seed Robert Morris Saturday, March 22 in Des Moines, Iowa, with tip-off scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Live television coverage will be available courtesy of ESPN2.

Rutgers will begin play in Iowa, the locale of one of Coach Vivian Stringer's long-time stints, between 1983 and 1995. Coach Stringer served as Head Coach at The University of Iowa and brought the Hawkeyes to a Final Four during 1993.

Robert Morris (23-9, 16-2) enter the NCAA tourney as a #15 seed, by way of the Northeast Conference. The Colonials enter the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the nation, having won 17 consecutive games. Perhaps none were more important than its last, a victory over Long Island in the NEC Conference Championship, 86-75. It was the Colonials' second consecutive NEC tournament championship and perhaps what was most impressive was the total team effort displayed in the third victory against LIU of the season.

Robert Morris boasts two of the game's prime-time players in Sade Logan and Chinata Nesbit. Collectively, Logan and Nesbit comprise the second-highest scoring tandem in Division I women's basketball, netting just under 33 points per game. In their victory over LIU, however, four other Colonials reached double figures. With the victory, the Colonials earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Robert Morris' last appearance in the NCAA tournament was last season. The Colonials were defeated in the first round by North Carolina State.

The announcement of the brackets brought with it a mild surprise. Rutgers and Connecticut, rivals in the Big East Conference as well as on the national stage, find themselves situated at opposite ends of the same bracket - the Greensboro Region. What that means is that one team may have to go through the other in order to arrive among the last four standing. Typically the selection committee tries to ensure that such conference meetings are held off for as long as possible, though an Elite 8 match-up doesn't exactly fall under the category of early rounds. Committe Chair Judy Suther commented on the impasse that was reached in trying to avoid this particular scenario, and setting up a possible contest between two of the nation's top teams, prior to reaching the Final Four.

"We spent quite a bit of time studying that and tried to find a way to look at whether or not we could avoid that happening. But, the reality is that our principles and procedures govern how we drop the teams in the bracket and Connecticut, being the overall number one seed, got the first shot at a regional selection and was sent to Greensboro. As we moved on through placing the teams into the bracket in geographic proximity, when we got to Rutgers, they also were shipped to Greensoboro. After we finished seeding the 1 and 2 lines we spent a great deal of time looking at how we can shift that. We went ahead and added the 3 and the 4 lines in and at that point, once we got to really analyzing it, we were kind of at an impasse if we wanted't protect the balance of the bracket and that seems to be something that is very important to our coaches and our student athletes. We have a point system that allows us to track balance and quite frankly, at the end of the day this is the most balanced bracket that we've ever put together in the course of the time that I've been on the committee, and I'm told, for quite some time."

The #7-#10 game, which will await the #2-#15 winner, will pit Iowa State (20-12) versus Georgia Tech (22-9). In addition to the Greensboro Region, the other #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament are Maryland (30-3) [Spokane Region], North Carolina (30-2) [New Orleans Region], and Tennessee (30-2) [Oklahoma Ciy Region].

In addition to Rutgers and Connecticut, the Big East Conference will send an additional six teams to the tournament, including Louisville, DePaul, Notre Dame, Syracuse, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh.

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