NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont women's basketball (31-3, 18-0 Ohio Valley Conference) has earned a program-best No. 12 seed in the Albany Region of the 2018 NCAA Division I women's Basketball Championship. The Bruins are set to face No. 5 seed Duke (22-8, 11-5 ACC) in Athens, Ga. on Saturday, March 17.
The game will be played inside Stegeman Coliseum at 11 a.m. EST and will be broadcasted on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app.
Tickets for the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament in Athens, Ga. are available HERE.
This marks the Bruins fourth overall bid to the NCAA Tournament, and their third-consecutive.
Belmont remains ranked nationally in both the Associated Press (No. 23) and USA Today Coaches (No. 25) Top 25. The Bruins are making their 19th postseason appearance which includes 14 WNIT bids, 1 WBI ticket and the aforementioned four NCAA Tournament berths. Belmont has qualified for four postseason tournaments in a five-year span for the first time in program history.
The Bruins enter postseason play as one of the nation's hottest teams as they ride the fourth-longest active winning streak in all of NCAA Division I at 22 – a program-best mark. Belmont finished the regular season winners of 27 of its last 28 games. Its lone setback during that stretch came all the way back on Dec. 18 when it was edged, 91-81 to Wright State – the squads only home loss of the season. BU has won its last 46-consecutive OVC contests, the second longest streak in the nation behind No. 1 UConn.
Belmont's 13 road wins during the regular season were tied for the most in all of NCAA Division I. In addition to a stellar road record, the Bruins also went 5-1 in neutral site games with the only loss coming to then-No. 14/9 Stanford in Las Vegas at the Play4Kay Showcase.
The Blue Devils, ranked as the nation's No. 18/20 team, received an at-large bid after coming off a quarterfinal appearance in the ACC tournament. Duke is paced by ACC Defensive Player of the Year and All-ACC First Team selection Lexie Brown. Brown has averaged 20.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.5 steals thus far in her senior season. The guard leads the team in scoring, assists, steals and free throw percentage. She's joined by fellow All-ACC performer Rebecca Greenwell who has compiled 14.2 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. The Blue Devils average 69.1 points per game while holding opponents to 56.3. They closed out their regular season winning four of their final five games before falling to North Carolina State in the conference tournament.
The Bruins, who check in at No. 57 on the RPI, will be well tested for postseason as they took on four teams in the Tournament field, Oklahoma, Stanford, Florida Gulf Coast and Gonzaga, during the regular season.
Belmont sported a league-best four All-OVC honorees, including collecting three First Team accolades for the third-straight season. Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.), Kylee Smith (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Sally McCabe (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) were all named to the First Team roster, while Jenny Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.) was named to the Second team. Leading the team to its best season in program history, first-year head coach Bart Brooks was tabbed OVC Coach of the Year.
Maggard, McCabe and Smith all earned OVC All-Tournament honors while the junior guard Maggard was picked as Tournament MVP after hitting the game-tying three to help the team claim their third-straight OVC tournament title in overtime. Smith leads the team in scoring (18.6), Maggard leads the team in assists and is one of the nation's best three-point threats while McCabe paces the team in rebounding and blocked shots.
Belmont led the OVC in scoring, field goal percentage and assists, leading the way in 14 statistical categories overall. BU also ranks in the top-10 in the nation in nine statistical categories.