After winning the Conference USA (C-USA) tournament, the Charlotte women's basketball team will play in the 2021-22 NCAA tournament. The 49ers have been selected as the No. 14 seed in the Bridgeport Region, taking on the No. 3 seed Indiana. Head Coach Cara Consuegra reflected on the historic feat after the Selection Show on Sunday, March 13.
"We are excited to be in the tournament," said Consuegra. "It wasn't necessarily about what our seed was or where we were going; it is about the chance to play on and represent Charlotte."
In the C-USA Championship Game, the 49ers clinched the automatic tournament bid with a 58-53 victory over the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters. This victory capped off an outstanding season for Charlotte as they boast a 22-9 overall record while finishing 15-3 in C-USA play. Octavia Jett-Wilson, who won tournament MVP honors, shared her thoughts on playing in the NCAA tournament.
"We hoped to get to this stage, and we made sure that it would happen," said Jett-Wilson. "Punching the ticket and where we are now puts me at a loss for words."
What you need to know:
Charlotte will make their third appearance in the NCAA tournament on Saturday, March 19, in Bloomington, Ind. This is the team's first trip since the 2008-09 season when the 49ers secured the A-10 tournament title. The first appearance came in the 2002-03 season when Charlotte won their first-ever C-USA title. Consuegra has high hopes for her first appearance in the tournament.
"The nice thing about our kids is they're confident, they believe in themselves, and they're excited about the opportunity," said Consuegra.
Charlotte captured multiple season accolades, with Jett-Wilson winning C-USA Player of the Year and KeKe McKinney being named Defensive Player of the Year. Consuegra also won Coach of the Year in a career-best season. The eight post-season honors set a new Charlotte school record.
Indiana comes into the contest as an at-large bid out of the Big Ten with a 22-8 overall record. Indiana ranked No. 11 in the national rankings with wins over No. 14 Ohio State and No. 13 Maryland. The Hoosiers are led by Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes, who average 16.3 and 15.5 points per game, respectively.
"Any team that operates at the level that they [Indiana] do in the Big Ten, it's going to be a huge, huge game," said Consuegra.
Look at the Bracket:
If Charlotte defeats Indiana, they will either No. 6 seed Kentucky or No. 11 seed Princeton. Kentucky finished the season with a 19-11 record and ran to win the SEC championship, while Princeton finished 24-4 overall and is the Ivy League Champion. The top seeds in the Bridgeport region are the No. 1 seed North Carolina State Wolfpack and the No. 2 seed UCONN Huskies.
Looking to Gameday:
In the first round of the NCAA tournament, the No. 14 seed Charlotte will take on the No. 3 seed Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday, March 19 in the Bridgeport region. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN2. You can also listen to the game on 730 The Game, ESPN Charlotte.