No. 2 Stanford earned a No. 1 seed in the Spokane Region of the NCAA women's basketball tournament and will play Big West champion UC Davis in Saturday's first round at Maples Pavilion.
A fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four will likely require the Cardinal to knock off one of two familiar foes in Xavier and UCLA, the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, in the bottom half of the Spokane bracket. Stanford beat Xavier on Jeanette Pohlen's buzzer-beating layup to advance to the Final Four last season and dominated the Musketeers, 89-52, in December. They say it's hard to beat a team three teams in one year, but if Nikki Caldwell's Bruins advance to the Elite Eight, the Cardinal will have to beat the Pac-10 runner-up a fourth time.
Caldwell said she thought her team was deserving of a No. 2 seed and one has to believe UCLA will be motivated to get another shot at Stanford. Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer was surprised the tournament committee gave the Bruins the chance.
"I didn't know UCLA would be in our bracket. Honestly, I'm shocked about that. We didn't play against UCLA the way we should have. A lot of the mistakes we made are correctable."
Assuming Stanford beats UC Davis, but not forgetting 1998, the Cardinal will face the winner of the 8-9 game between St. John's and Texas Tech. The Red Raiders handed No. 1 seed Baylor one of its two losses this season. Kentucky or North Carolina would most likely await in the Sweet 16.
Tennessee, which VanDerveer considers the deepest team in the field, and UConn garnered the other two No. 1 seeds and would meet in the national semifinals if both teams make it to Indianapolis. Arizona State, the only other Pac-10 team in the tournament, earned a No. 7 seed.