Lady Vols Open Big Dance Against Liberty on Friday in Knoxville
(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The only program to appear in every NCAA Tournament, the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team earned its 37th consecutive bid and will host first- and second-round games on Friday and Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Lady Vols (24-7) are seeded No. 3 in the Lexington Regional. UT will play host to No. 14 seed Liberty (24-9) in the first round on Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised by ESPN2 and also carried on the Lady Vol Radio Network.
No. 6 seed Oregon State (23-7) will meet No. 11 seed Western Kentucky (24-8) in the other first round contest in Knoxville at noon ET on Friday. That contest also will be televised by ESPN2. The winners of the first-round match-ups will face off on Sunday. Time and TV network are to be determined.
The Lady Vols, who are tourney hosts for the first time since 2014-15, are 29-1 all-time in NCAA First Round games. The only blemish is an opening-round loss to Ball State, 71-55, in Bowling Green, Ky., on March 22, 2009. Tennessee remains undefeated at home in first round contests (22-0) and is 56-0 all-time in NCAA Tournament games played in Knoxville.
The Lady Vols and Liberty will meet for just the second time, with UT holding a 1-0 advantage in the series. The only other meeting occurred on March 14, 1998, when No. 1 seed Tennessee defeated the Flames, 102-58, en route to a perfect 39-0 NCAA Championship season.
Liberty was the 2018 regular season champion of the Big South Conference as well as the Big South Conference Tournament winner. Tennessee is 6-2 all-time vs. that league with the last win coming vs. Winthrop, 81-48, in Knoxville on Nov. 21, 2014.
The Lady Vols, who are 124-28 all-time in NCAA play, are the only school to appear in all 37 tournaments, winning eight national championships. Liberty, meanwhile, is making its 17th NCAA appearance, last making the field in 2015.
Tennessee played 11 of the 64 teams in the NCAA Tournament field this season and owns an 8-6 record vs. those squads. UT captured victories over South Carolina (twice), Texas, Stanford, Texas A&M, Georgia, Marquette and Oklahoma State. UT suffered losses to tourney teams Notre Dame, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Missouri and LSU.