Colorado women's basketball players have known for a while that they were likely going to be invited to the NCAA Tournament.

That didn't make Monday night's selection show any less exciting.

CU players and coaches let out a roar and jumped out of their chairs when their name came across the screen on ESPN as they officially learned they were back in The Dance.

"It was overwhelming joy for us," freshman Arielle Roberson said. "Once it was finally official and solidified, there were no words to describe it. It was just a great, happy moment for all of us. It was just perfect."

CU (25-6) will be the No. 5 seed in the Norfolk Region and will face 12th-seeded Kansas (18-13), its old Big 12 rival, on Saturday at 4:40 p.m. at the Coors Events Center. Fourth-seeded South Carolina (24-7) and 13th-seeded South Dakota State (25-7) will square off in the other game Saturday at 2:10 p.m.



A quick look at the four teams that will play in Boulder on Saturday in the first round of the Women's NCAA Tournament:

No. 4 seed South Carolina (24-7): Ranked 17th in the final Associated Press poll, the Gamecocks finished fifth in the SEC. Six of their seven losses came against top-20 teams, including a 53-49 loss against then-No. 1 Stanford in Dec. 19. South Carolina's best win came against then-No. 5 Kentucky on Jan. 24.

No. 5 seed Colorado (25-6): The host Buffaloes finished the season at No. 19 in the AP poll. CU had a 10-game winning streak snapped in its last game, against No. 4 Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals. The Buffs are 24-0 against unranked opponents. Their marquee win came against then-No. 8 Louisville on Dec. 14.

No. 12 seed Kansas (18-13): Although ranked for much of the season, the Jayhawks really struggled down the stretch, going 8-11 in their last 19 games and finishing seventh in the 10-team Big 12. In their last 11, they were 4-7 with three of the wins against last-place TCU. KU owns two top-25 wins, against then-No. 23 Iowa State and then-No. 22 Oklahoma.

No. 13 South Dakota State (25-7): The Jackrabbits won the Summit League's regular season and tournament titles. They also had a nice win against then-No. 15 Nebraska on Nov. 18 at home. Since a Dec. 16 loss at Penn State, SDSU is 19-2, with both losses to IUPUI.

The winners of Saturday's games will play Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at Coors Events Center.

This will be Colorado's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004.

"It's been a few years for our program and we're very proud of the work our players have been able to do all season long in allowing us to have the opportunity today to see our name up on the screen and to be included in a really fantastic tournament," Buffs head coach Linda Lappe said. "I can't be happier for our seniors, Meagan (Malcolm-Peck), Brenna (Malcolm-Peck) and Chucky (Jeffery), to have this opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament, something that they're never going to forget."

Earlier Monday, the final Associated Press poll of the year was released, with CU finishing 19th. Because of their ranking and overall success this season, Lappe and the Buffaloes already knew they were a virtual lock to get in, and they already knew they'd get an opportunity to host the first two rounds.

Still, hearing their name on ESPN was special. CU had not even been in the NCAA Tournament conversation since its last appearance in 2004.

"I think we all were still pretty nervous," Jeffery said. "We were just anxious to finally see it and for it to be official. All of us are excited and I'm just grateful that we have this opportunity."

Jeffery and the Buffs have not played since March 9. Since then, several of the players have gone over numerous scenarios about which teams would be coming to Boulder.

"We've been trying to figure that out for a long time," Jeffery said.

And, how did they do?

"We were way off," she said. "Nobody that we initially thought was going to be there, except for Notre Dame, is there."

Notre Dame is the No. 1 seed in the regional. Should the Buffs win both games in Boulder this week, they would potentially face the second-ranked Irish.

For now, the Buffs are focused on Kansas, a team they know quite well from their days in the Big 12 and, before that, the Big Eight. Kansas went 3-0 against the Buffs just two years ago.

"I'm excited to play a Big 12 opponent," Lappe said. "We spent a lot of years in the Big 12 and the Big Eight. Kansas is going to be a tough opponent. I think anybody that makes it into the NCAA Tournament is going to be high-level competition, but we're excited about it."

CU had to wait through a couple of regions before getting its name called. For the past few weeks, ESPN's Charlie Creme predicted Dayton would be the No. 4 seed coming to Boulder. When the 18th-ranked Flyers were given a No. 7 seed in the Bridgeport Region, that raised some eyebrows.

"There was a little bit of angst, the same that the men had when Oregon got a 12 seed (during Sunday's men's selection show)," Lappe said. "But you never know the reasoning."

Lappe said she wasn't too worried at that point because they figured all along they would be a No. 5 or No. 6 seed.

"We're happy with that," she said. "It means the committee took a look at what we did all season long and I felt like that's a great seed with the wins we were able to get and having no bad losses. You never quite know where you're going to be, but we're happy with that seed. It shows us a lot of respect from the committee members, I think."

Overall, this will be the 13th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. The Buffs are 17-12 all-time in the Tournament, including 12-3 in games played in Boulder.


As a player, Lappe was a part of three NCAA Tournament teams at CU. She will become one of just eight coaches to ever play and coach in the NCAA Tournament for the same team. Cindy Griffin of St. Joseph's will also join that short list this week. ... As of Monday, CU had sold about 2,700 all-session passes. ... All three games in Boulder will be broadcast on ESPN2.