HOUSTON – In their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005, the Rice Owls women's basketball team will be the 12-seed in the Chicago Regional. They open play Friday against 5th-seeded Marquette in College Station.
"It was surreal. We've never experienced this before," said junior star Erica Ogwumike after Rice's name was unveiled during ESPN's special tournament broadcast.
The Owls actually learned their postseason destination a few hours earlier than anticipated, after ESPN inadvertantly leaked the women's tournament bracket early in the afternoon.
"It doesn't matter how it happens, or what time of day it is, there's absolutely nothing like looking up on the screen and seeing your school," said Owls head coach Tina Langley.
Rice (28-3) enters the NCAA Tournament on a 21-game winning streak after going unbeaten in Conference USA play, winning both the regular season and conference championships.
They face a Golden Eagles squad that went 26-7 during the regular season and won the Big East regular season title.
Should the Owls advance, they would get the winner of the (4) Texas A&M - (13) Wright State match-up. The Aggies handed Rice one of their few losses on the year, winning in College Station, 65-54, in Rice's season opener on November 7.
Friday's game against Marquette will be a 1 p.m. tip on ESPN2.