COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M guard Takia Starks filled out her NCAA women's tournament bracket as the pairings were unveiled on television Monday night.
The Aggies (25-7) were one of six teams from Texas to make the field, earning a No. 2 seed and a date with Evansville (15-18) in the first round in South Bend, Ind., on Sunday.
Naturally, Starks had the No. 9 Aggies advancing to the Elite 8. If the seeds hold to form, they would then play overall No. 1 seed and undefeated Connecticut (33-0) for the right to go the Final Four.
Starks wrote "TBD" (To Be Determined) on her bracket for the outcome of that game. She and the Aggies have wanted to challenge the Huskies all season, and they'll finally get their chance with three more victories.
"It would be nice to match up with those guys," said Starks, A&M's leading scorer. "They're the best and we want to play the best. If we take care of business, we'll eventually meet them."
But A&M has a tough road to even reach that showdown, so for now, the Huskies can wait. If the Aggies beat Evansville, they would likely face Notre Dame on the Irish's home court in the second round.
Coach Gary Blair vowed that his players won't overlook anyone. Last year, top-ranked Tennessee loomed as a possible regional final opponent, and the Aggies won their first three games by double-digits before losing 53-45 to the Lady Vols, the eventual national champions.
"Nothing comes easy for Aggies," Blair said. "Last year, we were put in there with Tennessee and that's just the way it's going to be. Hopefully, we can go up there and have the same one-game mentality we had last year."
Fifth-ranked Baylor (26-5), which defeated A&M in the Big 12 tournament championship, also earned a No. 2 seed. The Lady Bears will open against Southland Conference tournament champion Texas-San Antonio (22-8) in Lubbock on Sunday.
Bears coach Kim Mulkey was relieved that Baylor not only got to play close to home, but also avoided a potential matchup with Connecticut before the Final Four.
"No one has beaten them, and it's going to take a tremendous effort for anybody to beat them," she said. "I don't think any of us wanted to be in that bracket."
Baylor has won five straight games since losing leading scorer Danielle Wilson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the final week of the regular season. Mulkey said the media relations department has been bombarded with e-mails asking about Wilson's status, including one inquiry from the NCAA tournament selection committee.
"It looks like it did weigh on the minds of the selection committee," Mulkey said. "I know you have to take into consideration injuries late in the year. But we've had enough time to prove that we earned that right to get a high seed, and we can win without her."
Texas-San Antonio will make its second straight NCAA appearance. The Roadrunners lost 91-52 to Texas A&M in the first round of last year's tournament, but leading scorer Monica Gibbs said the team will be better prepared for the big stage this time around.
"When we got to the tournament last year, I think we were just really content with just being there," said Gibbs, who also led the Roadrunners in assists this season. "I think this year it's going to be a different look. We're going to go in more focused and more ready."
Texas (21-11) was also among six Big 12 teams to make the field. The No. 25 Longhorns earned a No. 6 seed and will face Mississippi State (22-9) in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday. Down the road, the Longhorns could face defending national champion Tennessee or No. 1 seed Duke with a Final Four berth on the line.
Despite losing to A&M in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament, No. 4 Oklahoma (28-4) secured a No. 1 seed and will play Prairie View (22-10) in Iowa City on Sunday. The Lady Panthers earned an automatic berth by winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament and will take a 19-game winning streak into the matchup with the Sooners.
TCU (20-10) earned an at-large bid after losing in the first round of the Mountain West tournament. The Horned Frogs were given a No. 10 seed and will play Summit League champion South Dakota State (31-2) in Lubbock on Sunday.
The winner of that game will advance to meet the winner of the Baylor-UTSA game.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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