For the second consecutive year, the ninth-ranked Texas A&M women's basketball team tied a program-best by earning a No. 2 seed in the 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship on Selection Monday.
The Aggies (25-7) are making their sixth all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and were one of eight top seeds in the 64-team field including top seeds in Connecticut, Duke, Maryland and Oklahoma as well as two seeds in Baylor, Auburn and Stanford. Last year, A&M reached the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in school history, but fell in the Oklahoma City Regional finals to eventual national champion Tennessee.
"Nothing comes easy for the Aggies," said Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair on this year's tournament field and seeding placement. "Last year, we were put in the same region with top-seeded Tennessee. That's just the way it is. We have the same situation as we did last year, but before we can think about the Connecticut's and Tennessee's, we have to play Evansville which did a great job in the (Missouri Valley Conference) tournament. I've always followed them, because I love their nickname, the Purple Aces. Hopefully, we can go up there and have the same, one-game mentality like we did against UTSA and Hartford last year in the first and second rounds."
A&M will face 15th-seeded Evansville (15-18) in the first round of the Trenton (N.J.) Regional to be held on Sunday, March 22 at 11 a.m. (CT) in South Bend, Ind. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. The winner will move on to the second round and meet either seventh-seeded and 20th-ranked Notre Dame (22-8) or 10th-seeded Minnesota (19-11) on Tuesday, March 24 at a time to be determined by television. First-and second-round games will be played at the Joyce Center on the campus of host Notre Dame.
With the fifth-toughest schedule in the nation, A&M had three non-conference opponents earn NCAA Tournament berths including third-seeded Florida State, fourth-seeded Pittsburgh and 10th-seeded TCU. The Aggies were one of six Big 12 schools to dance in March along with OU, Baylor, fourth-seeded Iowa State, fifth-seeded Kansas State and sixth-seeded Texas. They went 10-5 against ranked opponents this season including a pair of victories over Oklahoma, Texas, K-State and Oklahoma State in addition to Pitt in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic and TCU and New Mexico in non-conference play.
The Aggies have never faced Evansville in the 35-year history of the program, while Minnesota leads 3-2 in the all-time series and A&M leads 1-0 versus Notre Dame.
"It is going to be well attended," said Blair who expects to see a lot of maroon and white mixed in with the green and gold, maroon and gold and purple-clad fans at the Joyce Center. "Minnesota averages about 6,000 to 7,000 fans a game and South Bend is close enough for their fans to travel as well as for Evansville and Notre Dame. We have to have a lot of Aggie support up there. I want people to know that you can fly Southwest Airlines out of Houston or Austin into Chicago or Indianapolis which are both within easy driving distances, or, you can start driving today."
The Aggies are led by senior guard Takia Starks and senior forwards Danielle Gant. Starks is averaging 15.6 points and 4.3 rebounds for the Aggies while Gant chips in 13.8 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.