UCLA women’s basketball to face North Carolina State in first-round matchup

For the first time in four years, UCLA will play in the NCAA tournament in Kansas City regional

Jasmine Dixon leads UCLA,  heading into the NCAA Tournament Sunday.

Jasmine Dixon leads UCLA, heading into the NCAA Tournament Sunday. Tiffany Cheng

There will be a team in Westwood dancing after all. It just might not be the one that most people expected.

The UCLA women’s basketball team heard its name called on selection Monday and will be heading to the NCAA tournament for the first time in four years. The Bruins enter the 64-team field as a No. 8 seed in the Kansas City regional and will face No. 9 seed North Carolina State in a first-round matchup in Minneapolis.

For coach Nikki Caldwell, no stranger to the tournament as a player and assistant under legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, the team’s selection is a cause for celebration and recognition of the hard work her players have put in.

“I’m excited for the team and that they get to experience March Madness,” Caldwell said Monday afternoon. “We’re one of the teams that gets to play another day. What’s more exciting than that?”

With a disappointing and surprising No. 8 seeding, UCLA will have to face some of the toughest early-round competition of any team. If the Bruins get past the Wolfpack on Sunday, they would likely face a date with No. 1 seed Nebraska (30-1). The Cornhuskers’ lone loss came at the hands of Texas A&M in the Big XII tournament over the weekend.

For now, though, the focus is on finding ways to overcome an unfamiliar opponent.

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