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MARCH MADNESS / NCAA TOURNAMENT | WOMEN'S NCAA TOURNAMENT

Play Gets Edgier Away From Home

March 23, 2001|From Associated Press

No one is playing at home now. Everyone is traveling, everyone is living out of a suitcase. No one has a built-in advantage.

This is where the NCAA women's basketball tournament gets interesting.

Thirteen of the 16 teams that will play in the regional semifinals on Saturday advanced by winning on their own court. The result: Most of the favorites are still playing.

But they no longer have the comforts they enjoyed last weekend. They're all on a neutral court now.

North Carolina State's Mideast Regional game with Connecticut at Pittsburgh will be far different than meeting the Huskies in sold-out Gampel Pavilion.

Southwest Missouri State won't have to deal with the Cameron Crazies when it plays Duke in the West Regional at Spokane, Wash. Iowa State won't have 11,000-plus fans to call on for support against Vanderbilt in the Midwest at Denver.

"Now people don't talk about the home court. They talk about the game, they talk about the matchup," Iowa State Coach Bill Fennelly said. "People don't look at it as well, they're supposed to win because they're at home. You have 16 quality teams left. Now you just go play."

Three teams already have won on the road. Missouri, the No. 10 seed in the East, was the biggest surprise, knocking off a second-seeded Georgia team that had been considered a strong Final Four contender. They next face Louisiana Tech.

Top-seeded Connecticut and fourth-seeded North Carolina State meet in the second game at Pittsburgh.

Two teams in the West Regional are traveling for the second consecutive week. Sixth-seeded Washington advanced by winning at third-seeded Florida and now meets second-seeded Oklahoma. Fifth-seeded Southwest Missouri State and NCAA scoring leader Jackie Stiles earned their shot at top-seeded Duke by winning at fourth-seeded Rutgers.

The top four seeds are still alive in the Mideast Regional at Birmingham, Ala. Top-seeded Tennessee plays No. 4 seed Xavier and No. 2 seed Texas Tech meets third-seeded Purdue.

Top-seeded Notre Dame plays fifth-seeded Utah in the first Midwest game at Denver, with second-seeded Iowa State and third-seeded Vanderbilt to follow.

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