The Rice Women’ Basketball team has learned their NCAA Tournament fate. The Owls are a 12-Seed and open up against 5-Seed Marquette in the first round.
In the aftermath of Rice’s NCAA Tournament clinching victory over Middle Tennessee, coach Tina Langley quoted Clemson Tiger headman Dabo Swinney. “The next game is the biggest game of the year.”
It’s that mantra which has carried the Owls through the most impressive season in school history. As they make their way to the Big Dance, Rice leaves history behind them as the only team in CUSA history to obtain perfection in both the regular season and the conference tournament.
Now they’ll take that mantel onto the NCAA Tournament. Rice was awarded a 12-Seed in the Chicago Region. Their first round game will be on Friday against 5-Seed Marquette. If the Owls win, they’ll face the winner of 4-seed Texas A&M and 13-seed Wright State in the Round of 32 for the right to play in the program’s first Sweet 16.
Rice has made two previous Women’s NCAA Tournament appearances. Last appearing in 2005, 11-Seed Rice fell to Georgia in the first round. In their only other appearances, 2000, the 13-Seed Owls knocked off 4-Seed UC Santa Barbara in the first round before losing to 5-Seed North Carolina in the Round of 32.
The Owls know they’ll be the underdogs, but they’re playing with a level of confidence and poise right now which suggests they won’t be intimidated. No matter the draw, this team was always going to ready to battle for a full 40 minutes.
It’s true, their next test will be their toughest yet. But as Swinney says, it’s the biggest game of the year. You can be sure this group will be ready. Look out, March Madness has only just begun.