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PREVIEW: UCF Faces Northwestern in NCAA First Round

UCF aims for its first NCAA Tournament win in school history

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 13 Women’s - UCF at UT-Chattanooga
Masseny Kaba
Photo by Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 10-seed UCF Knights will take on the 7-seed Northwestern Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in San Antonio. Tip-off at Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary’s University is set for Monday at 4 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.


Storylines

The Girls in The Bubble

The Knights are in the tournament for the second time under Coach Abe, as they made it back in 2019, which was the last time the tournament was held. It’s also their second-ever time making the tournament as an at-large team.

Coach Abe previewed the game this week from Texas. One of the key factors will be the atmosphere - or lack thereof - in San Antonio, with the entire tournament taking place around the city before extremely limited attendance.

History on the Line

UCF has been to the NCAAs five times in its history, but lost all five first-round games. The closest they came to victory was an 85-80 loss to North Carolina as a 14 seed in 2009.

If the Knights were to win on Monday, it would be the first NCAA Tournament win in program history. They would take on the 2-seed Louisville/15-seed Marist winner on Wednesday.

Nothing New

Most of UCF’s roster is new from the last time they made the Tournament in 2019, but it’s not a new experience for Brittney Smith, Diamond battles, or Masseny Kaba, who are the only holdovers from the 2019 team.

Kaba emphasized that she and her fellow veterans were not fazed by the stage, which could be an advantage:


About the Wildcats

  • Record: 15-8 overall, 11-7 in the Big Ten (5th place)
  • NET: 31st
  • Head coach: Joe McKeown (13th season)
  • Previous Meetings: None

Listen to our preview of the game on our latest podcast with Philip Rossman-Reich, who covers the Orlando Magic but also follows his alma mater very closely and tweets about them at @RiseNU:


Game Time

  • Tip-off: 4 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPNU
  • Announcers: Banneret Favorite Roy Philpott and Brooke Weisbrod
  • Location: Bill Greehey Arena
  • Line: Northwestern -3.5