Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer was not so concerned about her sixth-ranked Cardinal (29-3) receiving a No. 2 seed for the NCAA tournament, which begins Saturday for Stanford against first-time participant South Dakota (19-13) at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
"All I hear from the NCAA is we want fans, fans, fans," VanDerveer said Monday. "They just shut out 3,000 of our fans, and some of them had tickets to both Seattle and UCLA."
(Pac-12 tournament champion USC, meanwhile, was assigned to Knoxville, TN instead of Westwood.)
Stanford, seeded second despite having fewer losses than any team with the exception of undefeated Connecticut and Notre Dame, having an RPI rating of three, and having the fourth-best road record in the nation, could have been placed in either West Coast site. Instead, Stanford was sent to the home of Iowa State, which is seeded seventh in the regional.
"I don't want to be confused by the facts," VanDerveer said. "Look at the RPI, look at the records, and we beat one of the No. 1 seeds. We've had some missteps, but so has everyone else except for UConn and Notre Dame. It's a subjective view and they don't have to justify it, they just did it as a committee."
Stanford, which lost to USC in the semifinal of the Pac-12 tournament, will play at Maples Pavilion for the third and fourth rounds should it win twice in Ames. Saturday's winners meet Monday, with the Sweet Sixteen on the line.
Stanford is 12-2 against the NCAA field.
The Cardinal heads into this season's tournament led by the play of national player of the year candidate Chiney Ogwumike, the only player to rank in the national top 10 in scoring (26.8 ppg - third), rebounding (12.3 rpg - seventh), field-goal percentage (61.0 - third) and double-doubles (24 - sixth) through March 16.
The senior forward from Cypress, Texas swept the Pac-12 Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards for the second straight year, with the defensive honor being her third in a row.
A record nine-time Pac-12 Player of the Week selection this year, Ogwumike has scored at least 30 points in 14 games this season, and over nine games against Top 25 teams this year has led Stanford to an 8-1 record while averaging 25.0 points and 12.6 rebounds per game with a field-goal percentage of 59.4 while battling constant double- and triple-teams.
She was joined on the All-Pac-12 Team for the second straight year by junior point guard Amber Orrange (9.9 ppg, 4.47 apg), who ranks ninth in the country with a 3.04 assist-to-turnover ratio, while redshirt senior Mikaela Ruef was rewarded for her career year (6.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.19 apg) with her first all-conference honor, being named All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
Stanford junior Taylor Greenfield hails from Huxley, Iowa, 17 miles southeast of Ames.
"Life is unpredictable," Ogwumike said. "We were excited when our name was called and then we looked and thought, 'Ames?' A second later it dawned on us that Taylor is from Iowa and that's something to look forward to."
South Carolina, which earned the No. 1 seed in the Stanford Regional, was sent to Seattle for its first two rounds. The Gamecocks lost their regular-season finale to Tennessee and then lost to Kentucky in the second round of the SEC tournament. They also own a win over USC, but are 9-4 against the NCAA field.
Tennessee, UConn and Notre Dame also were awarded No. 1 seeds. Stanford, which topped Tennessee this season, is one of five teams going to the NCAA tournament from the Pac-12. Joining the Cardinal are USC, Arizona State, California and Oregon State.
Saturday's first-round contest will be the first meeting between Stanford and the Coyotes, who beat Denver, 82-71, in the Summit League final to earn the program's first NCAA tournament bid. South Dakota entered the conference tournament as the No. 4 seed.
South Dakota, located in Vermillion, S.D. and with head coach Amy Williams in her second season at the helm, are led by the play of guards Nicole Seekamp (15.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Raeshel Contreras (13.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg).
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