NCAA Tournament: Utah Utes women’s basketball earns No. 7 seed, will face No. 10 Arkansas in first round

Utes will play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Utah women’s basketball team react when it was announced where and who they will play in the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament at the team’s practice facility, Sunday, March 13, 2022.

The University of Utah women’s basketball team is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011.

The Utes, who are coming off their first appearance in the Pac-12 championship game, were awarded the No. 7 seed in the Spokane Regional on Sunday evening when the field of 68 was announced. Utah will face No. 10 seed Arkansas on Friday in Austin, Texas, with the winner advancing to face either No. 2 seed Texas or No. 15 seed Fairfield in the round of 32 on Saturday.

Unlike the NCAA Men’s Tournament, where all games are played on neutral floors, the first two rounds on the women’s side are hosted by the top-16 overall seeds. With that, this four-team, three-game pod will be hosted by the Longhorns at the Erwin Center. The Spokane Regional will be contested at 12,210-seat Spokane Arena.

“I think we knew were in, we just didn’t know where we would be,” seventh-year Utes head coach Lynne Roberts said following a Selection Show watch party with her team in her office at the Huntsman Basketball Facility. “We’re excited. I am so proud of our team, they’ve done an amazing job, and we’re really to get on a plane and go to Austin.”

Utah’s run to the Pac-12 championship game, a 73-48 loss to reigning national champion Stanford, was preceded by wins over a pair of NCAA Tournament-bound teams in Washington State and Oregon. The win over the Ducks in a semifinal pushed the Utes to 20 wins for the second time in seven seasons under Roberts, who will coach her team in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Roberts previously coached Utah to the WNIT in her first three seasons at the helm from 2016-18.

Roberts’ team woke up Sunday morning with a NET of 27, fourth-highest in the Pac-12 behind Stanford, Oregon, and 2021 national finalist Arizona.

“Everything is a process. We preach that process over results, and this has been a process,” Roberts said. “To do it the right way, it takes time and I firmly believe everything in life comes down to people, and we have the right people in our program from support staff, coaches and the players are obviously the ones doing the brunt of it.

“It takes time to do things the right way, and I’m proud of how we’ve done it.”