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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Notre Dame earned its first outright regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the 2012 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Championship Presented by American Eagle Outfitters, to be held March 2-6 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. In its fourth year of the 16-team tournament format, the teams will battle in 15 games over five days for the Conference’s automatic NCAA Championship berth.
The 2012 Championship field is based on regular-season league records, with the highest four seeds earning double byes into the quarterfinals on March 4. Teams finishing in spots 5-8 earned first-round byes, while seeds 9-16 will begin play in the first round on March 2.
Notre Dame (28-2, 15-1 BIG EAST) earned its first regular-season championship since 2000-01. The Fighting Irish head into the conference tournament on a four-game winning streak after having only lost once in league play, to West Virginia on Feb. 12. The Irish’s only other loss this season came to No. 1/1 Baylor 94-81 on Nov. 20 in the Preseason WNIT final in Waco, Texas. The Fighting Irish will play the winner of No. 8 seed DePaul vs. the winner of the No. 9 vs. 16 games, which pits USF against Pittsburgh. Notre Dame will be seeking its first BIG EAST tournament title.
St. John’s (21-8, 13-3 BIG EAST) grabbed the No. 2 seed and will play the winner of No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 Villanova/No. 15 Seton Hall. The Red Storm tied with Connecticut for second place in the conference standings but earned No. 2 seed due to the tiebreaker defeating the Huskies head-to-head 57-56 on Feb. 18.
Connecticut (26-4, 13-3 BIG EAST) earned the No. 3 seed and will play the winner of No. 6 Rutgers versus No. 11 Cincinnati/No. 14 Marquette.The last time the Huskies were a No. 3 seed was 2005. UConn has won the last four tournament titles.
Georgetown (22-7, 11-5 BIG EAST) landed the No. 4 seed, earning a bye to the quarterfinal round, where the Hoyas will meet the winner of No. 5 West Virginia (21-8, 11-5 BIG EAST) versus No. 12 Syracuse/No. 13 Providence. Both Georgetown and West Virginia finished the regular season with an 11-5 record in conference play, but the Hoyas knocked off WVU 64-54 on Feb. 24 to get the advantage in the head-to-head tiebreaker.
No. 10 seed Villanova (16-13, 6-10 BIG EAST) is the No. 10 seed and will play No. 15 seed Seton Hall (8-22, 1-15 BIG EAST) in the first round. Villanova defeated the Pirates 62-53 on Jan. 31. The winner of that game will play No. 7 seed Louisville (21-8, 10-6 BIG EAST).
The Cardinals defeated Villanova 62-58 at home on Jan. 28 and won against Seton Hall 63-53 on Feb. 27 in the regular-season finale.
No. 9 seed USF (16-14, 8-8 BIG EAST) will play No. 16 seed Pittsburgh (8-21, 0-16 BIG EAST) in the first round on March 2. The Bulls recorded a 62-50 victory on Feb. 18 in Tampa, Fla.
The winner of USF/Pittsburgh will play No. 8 seed DePaul (21-9, 9-7 BIG EAST) in the second round on March 3, with the winner facing Notre Dame in a quarterfinal game on March 4. USF defeated the Blue Demons in overtime 66-63 on Jan. 17 and DePaul beat Pittsburgh 86-83 on Jan. 14.
Syracuse (17-13, 6-10 BIG EAST) finished as the No. 12 seed and will play the No. 13 seed Providence (13-16, 5-11 BIG EAST) in a first-round match-up on March 2 at noon. The Orange defeated the Friars 80-54 earlier in the season on Jan. 31 in Providence, R.I. The winner of that game will play No. 5 West Virginia.
Villanova, Cincinnati and Syracuse each finished 6-10 in conference play. The Wildcats were 2-0 against the other two to earn the No. 10 seed. The Bearcats follow at No. 11 due to a 55-54 win against the Orange on Jan. 28.
No. 11 seed Cincinnati (15-14, 6-10 BIG EAST) will play No. 14 seed Marquette (13-16, 4-12 BIG EAST) in the first round. The Bearcats swept the season series against the Golden Eagles, posting a 64-52 victory on Feb. 1 and a 60-46 win on Feb. 21. The winner of that match-up will face No. 6 seed Rutgers (21-8, 10-6 BIG EAST) in the second round. Earlier in the season, Rutgers defeated Cincinnati 58-47 on Jan. 7. The Scarlet Knights also defeated the Golden Eagles 69-58 in the final game of the regular season on Feb. 27.
Rutgers and Louisville both finished league play 10-6, with Rutgers earning the No. 6 seed by way of a 71-68 overtime victory against the Cardinals on Jan. 14.
Ticket packages to all 15 games of the championship may still be purchased at the reduced price of $99.00 each, which is discounted by nearly one half of the face value. Single-session tickets go on sale on Feb. 28.
To charge tickets by phone, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. In addition, tickets can be purchased online by logging on to the XL Center website at www.xlcenter.com.
Tickets can also be purchased at the XL Center ticket office beginning Feb. 28 at 12 p.m. Weekday box office hours are Noon-5 p.m. For weekend events, the ticket office will open four hours prior to the start of an event. All ticket purchases are subject to additional convenience fees.
For group sales (10 or more) information and discounts, please contact Lisa Feigenbaum of the XL Center at (860) 548-2000.
2012 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Championship Field
Friday, March 2 - First Round (BE.tv)
Game 1 Noon #12 Syracuse vs. #13 Providence
Game 2 2 p.m. #9 USF vs. #16 Pittsburgh
Game 3 6 p.m. #10 Villanova vs. #15 Seton Hall
Game 4 8 p.m. #11 Cincinnati vs. #14 Marquette
Saturday, March 3 - Second Round (BETV and BE.tv)
Game 5 Noon #5 West Virginia vs. Game 1 winner
Game 6 2 p.m. #8 DePaul vs. Game 2 winner
Game 7 6 p.m. #7 Louisville vs. Game 3 winner
Game 8 8 p.m. #6 Rutgers vs. Game 4 winner
Sunday, March 4 - Quarterfinals (ESPNU/BETV)
Game 9 Noon #4 Georgetown vs. Game 5 winner
Game 10 2 p.m. #1 Notre Dame vs. Game 6 winner
Game 11 6 p.m. #2 St. John’s vs. Game 7 winner
Game 12 8 p.m. #3 Connecticut vs. Game 8 winner
Monday, March 5 - Semifinals (ESPNU)
Game 13 6 p.m. Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner
Game 14 8 p.m. Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner
Tuesday, March 6 - Championship (ESPN)
Game 15 7 p.m. Game 13 winner vs. Game 14 winner
BETV – BIG EAST Regional Sports Network; BE.tv – streamed online at www.BIGEAST.tv; All times are Eastern