Dores host MTSU in NCAA Tournament
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Melanie Balcomb is now a perfect 10-for-10 on her Vanderbilt teams making the NCAA Tournament.
The Commodores (22-9, 9-7 SEC) received one of 32 at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament and will play host as a seven seed to 10th-seeded Middle Tennessee State. In the other first round game at Memorial Gym, second-seeded Duke (24-5, 15-1 ACC) will take on 15th-seeded Samford (20-12, 12-8 SoCon).
Vanderbilt is hosting the first and second rounds for the first time since 2006. The Vanderbilt-MTSU match-up will kick things off on Sunday, March 18 at 4:10 p.m. CT. The Duke-Samford game will tipoff 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first contest. Both games will be televised on ESPN2.
The winners return on Tuesday, March 20, at 8:30 p.m. CT.
This is Vanderbilt's 25th NCAA Tournament appearance and 13th-consecutive bid. It is also the 10th time the Commodores will get to play at home during the NCAA Tournament. In those previous NCAA games at Memorial Gym, Vanderbilt is 14-1 all-time and has advanced to regional play in eight of the nine seasons.
"I'm thrilled about being home and hosting," Balcomb said. "I've been here 10 years and this is just the second time we've been hosting and that the games will be here in Memorial. The atmosphere should be good. (Middle Tennessee is) local and close by so hopefully a lot of people will come out."
As for the first round opponent, Vanderbilt will be welcoming Middle Tennessee to Memorial for just the first time since 1991-92. The last meeting between the programs came that season, with the Commodores taking a 90-61 victory. They have not met since, despite just 37 miles of Interstate 24 separating Nashville from Murfreesboro.
MTSU leads the all-time series, 7-8, but six of their seven wins came from 1978-83, during Vanderbilt's first six seasons of women's basketball. The Commodores then took six of the next seven from 1983-92.
The teams have had one previous post-season meeting, with MTSU taking a 76-57 win in the 1980 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Tournament, which was the premier women's basketball tournament prior to the NCAA adding a women's basketball championship in 1982.
Balcomb knows Middle Tennessee will be excited to face an in-state rival, but she knows her team will be up for it simply because it's the NCAA Tournament.
"It's NCAA-time now," Balcomb said. "We want to win our first round in the NCAA and move on. That's why you play the game, to move on."
Christina Foggie, the SEC scoring champion, knows Middle Tennessee will be a tough match-up, especially having beat the SEC's regular season champion, Kentucky.
"(Beating Kentucky) shows that they're relentless," Foggie said. "It shows that they come hard and ready to play. It doesn't matter what the ranking is, they're ready to play."
Foggie is also happy to be playing at home.
"Being at home at Memorial is great," Foggie added. "Obviously we played really well at home this year and we love this place. That gives us that much more confidence and we know it'll be a really great crowd and we're ready to go."
Vanderbilt posted a 16-1 record at Memorial this season, including three wins over ranked teams (No. 12/14 Oklahoma, No. 17/15 Georgia and No. 11/11 Tennessee). The lone loss came to rv/rv South Carolina in overtime.
VUCommodores.com will be with Vanderbilt for the extent of its stay in the NCAA Tournament. Be sure to check back frequently as March Madness comes to Music City.
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