VU Women headed to Albuquerque

For the second straight year the Vanderbilt women's team will begin their NCAA tournament run in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This year the Dores are the #4 seed in the Raleigh Region and will play #13-seed Western Carolina in the Pit on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

For Vanderbilt fans who were hoping to play the first two rounds closer to Nashville, seeing "Albuquerque" on the screen during Monday night's Selection Show might have been a disappointment. Last year, the Dores played the first and second rounds at the Pit in Albuquerque, flew back across country home to Nashville, then flew back out west to Spokane for the regionals. This year Vanderbilt fans from Nashville were hoping that they wouldn't have to travel so far to support their team.

But the reaction from the Vanderbilt coaches and players was completely positive.

"We had a good experience there, a positive experience, and we're 2 and 0 in Albquerque," said Head Coach Melanie Balcomb. "We know we're going to be familiar with the altitude, and the court, and the gym, and we have good feelings about it, positive feelings. Now if we had done poorly last year, I might feel differently."

Senior Jen Risper, who is from southern California, is especially excited about another trip out west for the tournament.

"I'm excited, for one, because my family gets to come, and that just makes me so happy," she said. "They don't get to come to a lot of my games obviously because they live so far, and I can't explain to you how happy I am that they get to see me play one more time, as well as family and friends who haven't gotten to see me play all through college."

Like Balcomb, Risper also has positive memories of last year's trip to Albuquerque.

"Another thing I'm excited about is the fact that the people out there were so sweet to us, so nice, and I hope that when they look at us, they'll be like, 'Oh they played here last year! We're gonna cheer for them!' So hopefully we'll have some fans there, too."

Vanderbilt's first round opponent is Western Carolina, champions of the Southern Conference, who finished the season with a 21-11 overall record and a 14-6 record in the conference. The Lady Catamounts claimed the automatic bid from the conference with a 101-87 triple-overtime victory over the College of Charleston. Western Carolina's coach is former Lady Vol Kellie Jolly Harper.

The other two teams in the New Mexico subregional are #5-seed Kansas State with an at-large bid from the Big 12 Conference and #12-seed Drexel, who ended Old Dominion's streak of 17 consecutive championships in the Colonial Athletic Conference. The winner of the Vanderbilt-Western Carolina game will play the winner of the Kansas State-Drexel game on Monday night.

In all, seven SEC teams are in the tournament. Besides Vanderbilt, the following teams received bids:

Auburn is the #2 seed in the Oklahoma City region and will play the first two rounds in Piscataway, New Jersey. First round opponent is #15-seed Lehigh. The other first round game matches #7 Rutgers, the host school, and #10 Virginia Commonwealth

Tennessee is the #5 seed in the Berkeley region and will play the first two rounds in Bowling Green, Kentucky. First round opponent is #12-seed Ball State. The other first round game matches #4-seed Iowa State and #13-seed East Tennessee State University.

Georgia is the #11 seed in the Trenton region and as the host school will play the first two round in Duluth, Georgia. First round opponent is #6-seed Arizona State. The other first round game matches #3-seed Florida State and #14-seed North Carolina AT&T.

LSU is the #6-seed in the Raleigh region and as the host school will play the first two games in Baton Rouge. First round opponent is #11-seed Wisconsin-Green Bay. The other first round game matches #3-seed Louisville and #14 seed Liberty.

Mississippi State is the #11-seed in the Berkeley region and will play the first two games in Columbus, Ohio. First round opponent is #6-seed Texas. The other first round games matches #3-seed Ohio State and #14-seed Sacred Heart.

Florida is the #8 seed in the Trenton region and will play the first two games in Storrs, Connecticut, home of the #1 seed-UConn Huskies. Their first round opponent will be Temple. The other first round game matches UConn and #16-seed Vermont. Top Stories