With any tournament, seeding is almost always questioned.
And with the NCAA women’s basketball tournament giving home games in the first and second rounds to the top 16 overall seeds, it takes on even more significance and importance.
This season, 12 of the 16 host schools punched their tickets to the Sweet 16 by winning two games at home.
One of the teams to win on the road was Oregon State, which was a six seed and won at No. 3 seed Tennessee — the first home loss in the NCAA tournament for the Lady Vols, who are now 57-1.
The Beavers were a No. 6 seed despite finishing in a tie for third in the Pac-12 with UCLA at 14-4 in conference play. UCLA, second-place Stanford and champion Oregon were all hosts.
Oregon State was ranked No. 13 in the last Associated Press poll and was No. 10 before losing in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament to an Arizona State team that received a berth in the NCAA tournament.
After the win over the Lady Vols on Sunday, Oregon State coach Scott Rueck was asked if his team was underseeded.
He was very diplomatic.
“I have no idea,” Rueck said. “You just hope that you get in, and then you just hope that the bus or the plane gets you where you need to go, and you play. I know where we are ranked in every poll, and every statistical thing that is out there, I think every coach knows where they are.
“… We didn’t show as well in the Pac-12 tournament as we probably should have, and that hurt us. I wasn’t really surprised based on everything I heard, but we come from a great conference.”
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick was also pressed on the matter.
“I think they’ve proven themselves that they can compete nationally,” she said. “Scott has done a great job and his players play hard and win games. They’re 25-7. I don’t know where people should and shouldn’t be seeded.
“I think the women’s game is closing the gap on parity. Regardless, of where you’re seeded you’ve got to play. People said we shouldn’t be a third seed. Well, that’s a bunch of bull.
“Our team played a tough schedule. We took care of business and got that seeding. We didn’t win (Sunday), so I guess the critics can say they were right.”
In addition to Oregon State, No. 5 seed Duke won at No. 4 Georgia to advance, and No. 11 seeds Central Michigan and Buffalo advanced against No. 3 seeds Ohio State and Florida State, respectively.
UCLA was the only No. 3 seed to get out of the first two rounds.
Warlick, who played at Tennessee under the late Pat Summitt, has seen the level of competition grow, especially in the past few years. In fact, the Lady Vols failed to reach the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row and only third time in the last 37 seasons.
“Look at the upsets,” she said. “There was Florida Gulf Coast (over No. 5 seed Missouri) and others. There has been a ton of upsets. Basketball is getting better and if you don’t play on any given night, you’re going to lose.
“We’ve had some great wins and we’ve had some bad losses. I think it has a lot to do with parity and how hard kids play.”
The Lexington Regional boasts four teams that have all been to the Final Four in the past seven seasons.
No. 1 seed Louisville last played in the Final Four in 2013, falling in the title game.
No. 2 seed Baylor has struggled to get out of the regional finals the past four seasons and last made the Final Four in 2012 when it won the program's second national title.
No. 4 seed Stanford is looking to make back-to-back trips to the Final Four and its third since the 2014 season. The Cardinal won the title last in 1992.
No. 6 seed Oregon State made its only Final Four in 2016, falling to eventual champions UConn in the semis.
Elite Eight rematch
Oregon State and Baylor will meet for the second time in three tournaments. The Beavers stunned the No. 1-seeded Lady Bears 60-57 in Dallas in 2016 to reach their first Final Four.
Baylor enters the regional semifinals with a 33-1 record, having won 30 straight since losing at UCLA on Nov. 18.
Louisville is 34-2 and Oregon State 25-7. Stanford is 24-10 but has gone 18-4 since a 6-6 start.