March 15, 2010
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MADISON, Wis. - For the first time since 2002, the University of Wisconsin women's basketball team has qualified for the NCAA tournament. The seventh-seeded Badgers (21-10) will take on 10th-seeded Vermont (26-6) on Sunday at noon ET in the Joyce Center at Notre Dame, Ind. The game will air live on ESPN2.
Second-seeded Notre Dame (27-5) takes on 15th-seeded Cleveland State (19-13) in the other first-round game at 2:30 p.m. First-round game winners play in the second round on March 23 at 7 p.m. ET for the right to advance to the Kansas City Regional.
"To see your name up there and see where you're going and it's close to home so we can get our fans there, your mind is just spinning," said UW Coach Lisa Stone. "From the men's show (yesterday), all the way until today, there has been excitement - yes it is nervousness - but you're just so excited to take this show on the road. I'm so happy for our team. I can't say enough about our players and my staff.
"I thought our body of work was very, very good, getting into the tournament and being rewarded with a seventh seed is very good. Again, it's a credit to our players and their hard work. "
Vermont advanced to the NCAA Tournament after winning the America East Conference title for the second consecutive year. The Catamounts, who are 0-5 in the big dance, will compete in their sixth tournament. Last season, Vermont lost to top-ranked Connecticut, 104-65, in the first round.
"Vermont is a very good team," Stone said. "I don't know a lot about them yet, but they are a team that is going to be excited to be there just like we are. I know that they will play hard and they'll be excited. I'm just thrilled that we get to play close to home against a great opponent."
This will be the Badgers seventh NCAA tournament appearance. Wisconsin is 2-6 in six previous appearances, having advanced to the second round twice (1995 and 1996).
"We've made steady progress to get to this point," said Stone. "It's nice that we don't have to wait another two hours after this show is over to hear about who is in the WNIT to be quite honest. I know there are teams that are waiting for that. All postseason play is important, but this is the big dance and we're excited to go dancing."
Vermont (26-6) advances to the NCAA tournament after earning their second straight America East Conference title and the conference's automatic NCAA bid. The Catamounts defeated Hartford 55-50 in the conference championship game. UVM has won 10 of its last 11 games and enters the NCAA Tournament on a three-game winning streak.
Vermont is led by a pair of senior guards in May Kotsopoulos and Courtnay Pilypaitis. Kotsopoulos averages 17.3 points per game and Pilypaitis adds 14.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. The Catamounts shoot 41.1 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from 3-point range.
Tickets are $16 for the first round (two games) and $16 for the second-round game. Ticket purchasers must request both sessions but will not be charged for the second-round game if the Badgers do not advance.
Season ticket holders and donors can request ticket packages beginning at 9 p.m. tonight online at UWBadgers.com. Tickets will also be on sale Tuesday, beginning at 8:30 a.m. by calling 1-800-Go Badgers. Tickets for the general public go on sale on Tuesday at 1 p.m. online or over the phone.