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Spartan women's basketball awaits NCAA Tournament selection

March 13, 2014

With the Big Ten Tournament over, the No. 20 women’s basketball team awaits its next challenge - Selection Monday.

According to head coach Suzy Merchant, the outcome of the selection show could play a huge role in the outcome of MSU’s season.

Merchant has talked about the difficulties of seeding in women’s basketball, and the huge advantage the host team gains regardless of where it is seeded several times this season. 

The Spartans are projected as a No. 5 seed to play No. 12 seed Florida in College Park, Md. on ESPN.com’s women’s basketball NCAA Tournament Bracketology.

Opposite of the bracket is No. 4 seed and host Maryland, which would take on No. 13 seed Hampton, according to ESPN expert Charlie Creme’s projection.

When MSU hosted in 2009 as a No. 9 seed, it advanced to the Sweet 16 round by defeating top-seeded Duke in the second round.

“People don’t really understand. If you don’t host, you’re at a disadvantage,” Merchant said. “Last time we (hosted), we went to a Sweet 16. We can’t do that right now in the tournament, so it makes it harder. And I also think because of that, it’s hard to seed properly.”

Bracketology predictions have been tough to nail because of the unpredictability of the selection committee in picking past NCAA tournament participants.

Although it typically is conventional wisdom to take into account geographical location when seeding, the committee has been known to mix it up, such as in 2012, when top-seed Baylor was separated from 3-seed Texas A&M a year after the teams were placed in the same region.

That could be good news for Merchant, who longs for MSU to become a host once again. If MSU and Maryland were to meet in the second round, it could spell bad news for the Spartans, who would be outgunned on the road.

“I think there’s a distinct advantage to hosting those first couple rounds, and it has been and that’s obvious in women’s basketball,” Merchant said. “At the end of the day you can’t change that right now, you just have to roll up your sleeves.

“I think we’re a talented team. ... Some of it’s going to depend on where we go and what our matchup is.”

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