Women’s hoops opens NCAA tourney at home

North Carolina’s women’s basketball team will begin its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance Sunday by hosting UT Martin on ESPN at Carmichael Arena. Tip-off is at 3 p.m.

Carolina (24-9) is the fourth seed in the Stanford Region, while the Skyhawks are the 13th seed in the region. UT Martin (24-7) is the regular season and tournament champion of the Ohio Valley Conference.

The first game of the day features No. 5 seed Michigan State (22-9) against 12th-seeded Hampton (28-4). Tip off is scheduled for 12:40 p.m., on ESPN2.

This season marks the seventh time Carolina has been a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels have been a top-four seed in 19 of their 25 NCAA appearances.

Carolina, 12th in the AP poll and 13th in the Coaches’ poll, is the highest ranked team playing in Chapel Hill this weekend. Michigan State is ranked No. 20 and 24, respectively in both national polls. Hampton received one vote in the USA TODAY Coaches’ poll.

UNC owns a 43-23 record in 24 previous NCAA Tournament appearances and is 40-19 in 20 appearances under the guidance of head coach Sylvia Hatchell.

Carolina features a balanced scoring attack with four players averaging 11 or more points per game. Led by National Freshman of the Year Diamond DeShields, the Tar Heels are averaging 80.7 points per game, 15th best in the country.

DeShields, the ACC Rookie of the Year, is averaging 18.0 points per game, followed by classmate Allisha Gray at 14.3 ppg.

Heather Butler, the OVC Player of the Year, leads a potent UT Martin offense that averages nearly 85 points per game. Butler ranks ninth in the country at 23.7 ppg.

The two winners on Sunday will face off Tuesday night at 7 p.m., with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line and a trip out west to Stanford next week.

Story courtesy of GoHeels.com.

Published March 21, 2014.