University of Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz had a couple years when he thought he knew what his team would be seeded in the NCAA Tournament only to be surprised when the draw came out.
But this time, Walz was on the mark.
The sixth-year head coach at U of L figured his team would be a No. 5 seed and that’s what the Cardinals received when the brackets were revealed by the NCAA selection committee on Monday night.
U of L (24-8) will play host to No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee State (25-7) on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the KFC Yum Center. The other game at the Yum Center will feature No. 4 seed Purdue against No. 13 seed Liberty at 12 o’clock.
The two winning teams play on Tuesday at 7 p.m. for a shot to go to Oklahoma City and likely play Baylor.
”It’s the exact draw I thought we would get,” Walz said. “I thought the five seed would be exactly what we would get and it was. Middle Tennessee is a really good program and they like to try and run at time and a very good post player (Ebony Rowe) that is out of the Lexington area.
”I was sitting here watching some teams get pulled up on the board and there were a lot that you were like, ‘Wow, what happened.’ I was happy to get a five and we are fortunate to be able to play at home.”
U of L has been to the NCAA Tournament five of the six years under Walz and made it to the Sweet 16 three of the past five seasons. U of L lost to Connecticut in the 2009 national championship game.
The Cardinals have been hampered by injuries this season, without Tia Gibbs and Asia Taylor the entire season, losing Shawnta Dyer early in the year to a knee injury and having Monique Reid off and on because of a knee injury.
But U of L still finished tied for third in the Big East Conference and lost to eventual champion Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament semifinals.
”We’ve had a lot of players step up,” Walz said.
Junior guard Shoni Schimmel leads the team at 13.8 points a game, while sophomore Sara Hammond averages 10.7 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Walz is hoping to sell out the lower part of the arena at the Yum Center, which would be around 10,000 fans.
Tickets for both sessions – three games - are $32 for adults and $18 for youths, seniors and college students.