The Southland Conference Tournament champion Northwestern State Lady Demons picked up a No. 3 NCAA Tournament regional seeding Sunday night and will play second-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette in the Baton Rouge Regional hosted by LSU on Friday beginning at three o'clock at Tiger Park on the LSU campus.
"We expected the three-seed after having a good RPI," said fourth yea head coach Donald Pickett. "We had a tough schedule this year, playing some quality teams, especially those in the top 30. I think it's an advantage being so close to home, and we have people that want to come down and be there for us, especially the parents. Since we've played down at LSU a few times since I've been here the team should feel pretty comfortable in that environment. "
LSU (40-14), the national No. 9 seed and the regional No. 1, will host Central Connecticut in the three-day, double-elimination bracket whose winner advances to an NCAA Super Regional the following weekend. The Tigers kick-off their tournament play at 6:00 Friday evening.
The Lady Demons (40-13) haven't played the Ragin' Cajuns (41-13) this season. The Cajuns entered the weekend ranked 21st nationally with an NCAA Ratings Percentage Index of 20. The Lady Demons, not in any Top 25 poll, had a No. 75 NCAA RPI.
"It's definitely bitter-sweet to be playing ULL,' said senior Paige Cavallin, a transfer from Louisiana-Lafayette. "I still have some close friends down there, and to be part of this great team here at NSU makes it a great experience."
"The Southland Conference had four teams with RPIs of 90 or better, and we were the second-best at 75, so I had a good feeling we would get a No. 3 seed," said Pickett. "We know the history of the UL-Lafayette program is tremendous, we know this year's team is another very good one that hits especially well, and we're excited about the opportunity to go to Baton Rouge and compete on the state's biggest stage."
The NCAA Tournament bracket was unveiled Sunday night on an ESPNU announcement show. The Lady Demons earned their first NCAA berth since 2002, and their fourth overall, by winning 5-4 Saturday over Sam Houston State in the Southland Tournament championship game. ULL was beaten in the Sun Belt Conference finals by top-seeded Western Kentucky.