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Cazorla, Tudor

Oregon's Maite Cazorla, left, dribbles in towards the lane as Oregon State's Kat Tudor, center, tries to defend. Cazorla and the Ducks will host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament this Friday and Sunday.

The Pac-12 Conference has been well represented in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament the past few seasons.

On Monday, the conference had half of its members selected for this year’s tournament, which begins Friday.

Conference champion Oregon is the highest seeded team, coming in at No. 2 in the Spokane Regional.

The Ducks will be one of three Pac-12 teams to host the first and second rounds this season. It’s the first time since the NCAA went to this format in the 2014-15 season that the conference has fewer than four teams in line to host.

Stanford was a No. 2 seed last year but didn’t host because of a conflict with the Pac-12 gymnastics meet, so the Cardinal traveled to Manhattan, Kansas.

Oregon opens with 15 seed Seattle University at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Also in Eugene will be No. 7 Green Bay and No. 10 Minnesota.

Last season, the Ducks went on a memorable run to the Elite Eight, upsetting No. 2 Duke on its own floor in the second round, then topping No. 3 seed Maryland before falling to No. 1 seed UConn in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

UCLA is a No. 3 seed and will host for the third straight season. The Bruins take on No. 14 American on Saturday. No. 11 Creighton and No. 6 Iowa are also in L.A.

Stanford is a No. 4 seed and opens against No. 13 Gonzaga on Saturday. Missouri is the No. 5 seed and plays No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast.

Other conference teams in the field are Oregon State, which is a No. 6 seed and will head to Knoxville, Tennessee, to take on No. 11 Western Kentucky. It’s the first time the Beavers haven’t hosted the first two rounds after being a No. 3 seed in 2014-15, and a No. 2 seed the past two years.

Arizona State is a No. 7 seed in the Kansas City Regional and could match up with No. 2 Texas. The Sun Devils open with No. 10 Nebraska on Saturday.

California is the No. 7 seed in the Albany Regional and opens with No. 10 Virginia on Friday. The Golden Bears could meet No. 2 seed and defending champion South Carolina in the second round.

In a new wrinkle this season, the selection committee announced Sunday eight teams that were vying for the last four spots in the tournament.

One of those teams was USC. The Trojans found out Monday they did not make the field.

That means the conference has six teams in the tournament, falling short of equaling last year’s record total of seven.

The conference has had at least one team in the Final Four in nine of the last 10 seasons, with Stanford making seven appearances.

Cal (2013), Oregon State (2016) and Washington (2016) are the other three conference programs to get to the Final Four during that stretch.

ESPN honors

Three Pac-12 players were on the ESPN all-America teams that were released on Sunday.

Oregon sophomore Sabrina Ionescu was named to the first team while Oregon State senior Marie Gulich and UCLA senior Jordin Canada made the third team.

It’s the fourth straight year an Oregon State player has earned an all-America honor as Gulich joins Ruth Hamblin, Jamie Weisner and Sydney Wiese.

The Associated Press All-America teams will be released the second week of the NCAA tournament with the coach of the year and player of the year named during the Final Four.

Weisner was named to the AP second team in 2015-16 while Hamblin (2014-15) and Wiese (2016-17) were third-team picks.

Top attendance

Oregon State had the top attendance in the conference for the fourth straight season, averaging 4,979 fans for 16 home games this season.

Oregon was second as the Ducks had an average of 3,896 for 17 games. UCLA was third at 3,394.

Oregon State had the largest average attendance for all its games at 3,796. Oregon was second at 3,348 and Stanford third at 3,297.

Poll watch

There wasn’t a lot of change in the AP poll as Oregon heads into the tournament No. 6, UCLA No. 9, Oregon State No. 13 and Stanford No. 15.

Arizona State and California received votes.


Sports editor of the Albany Democrat-Herald and Corvallis Gazette-Times

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