KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The only program to appear in every NCAA Tournament, the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team received confirmation that it had earned its 41st consecutive postseason bid Sunday night when the bracket was revealed on ESPN.
UT also learned it will serve as a host for the NCAA First and Second Rounds for the second year in a row. This will mark the 19th occasion the Lady Vols have hosted the NCAA First and Second Rounds since that format was instituted in 1994. Tickets are available at AllVols.com.
The Lady Vols (23-11) are seeded No. 4 in the Seattle 3 Region. UT will face No. 13 seed St. Louis University (17-17) in the first round on Saturday in Thompson-Boling Arena. Tip time and TV info. will be announced later. This will mark the second meeting between these programs, with UT defeating the Billikens, 75-40, on Dec. 2, 2002, in the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico.
No. 5 seed Iowa State (22-9) will meet No. 12 seed Toledo (28-4) in the other first-round contest in Knoxville on Saturday. The winners of the first-round matchups will face off on Monday. Time and TV info. for that contest will be announced later as well.
The Lady Vols, who are 128-32 all-time in NCAA play, are the only school to appear in all 41 tournaments, winning eight national championships. They also have recorded the most games played (160) and second most victories (128) in tournament history.
SLU, meanwhile, is making its initial NCAA appearance. The Billikens, who are coached by first-year skipper Rebecca Tillett, earned the Atlantic 10 Conference’s automatic NCAA bid by winning the A-10 tournament.
The Lady Vols are 32-2 in NCAA First-Round games. The only blemishes are opening-round losses to Ball State (71-55) in Bowling Green, Ky., on March 22, 2009, and to UCLA (89-77) in College Park, Md., on March 23, 2019. UT is 24-0 all-time when playing first-round contests in Knoxville.
Tennessee is making its third NCAA appearance under fourth-year head coach Kellie Harper. The 1999 UT graduate and LVFL is making her eighth trip to the tourney as the leader of a program. She would have added another UT and overall appearance in 2020 had the tournament not been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harper is one of only two coaches to lead four women’s programs to the NCAA Division I Tournament. She did so at Western Carolina, NC State and Missouri State before checking that box in Knoxville two seasons ago. Harper joined Jim Foster (St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, Chattanooga) in that rare company, but she was the first to do so at her alma mater.
Tennessee, ranked No. 23/RV this week, was the third-place finisher in the SEC during the regular season at 13-3 and advanced to the finals of the SEC Tournament before falling to No. 1/1 South Carolina. UT’s conference record was its best since 2014-15, and the Big Orange logged a third-place finish for the fourth straight campaign.
St. Louis tied for third in the A-10 in 2022-23 at 10-6 before winning the league tourney over UMass, 91-85 in overtime. UT is 25-0 all-time vs. schools currently in that league, defeating league co-champ UMass, 74-66, on Nov. 10, this season.
Tennessee played 15 of the 68 teams (including South Carolina, LSU and Mississippi State twice each) in the 2023 NCAA Tournament field this season and owns a 7-11 record vs. those squads. UT captured victories over LSU, Colorado, Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia, Mississippi State and Chattanooga, and it fell to South Carolina (twice), Indiana, Virginia Tech, Stanford, UConn, LSU, Ohio State, Gonzaga, UCLA and Mississippi State.