By DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
Notre Dame, Stanford, Louisville and Nebraska will host the NCAA tournament women’s basketball regionals this season.
The women’s basketball committee decided over the summer to allow schools to host the regionals for the first time in nearly a decade, with the thought it could increase attendance.
All four schools have had incredible success at home, with Stanford boasting a 92-2 mark at Maples Pavilion since the start of the 2007-08 season. Notre Dame is 85-11 at home during that same span. Louisville and Nebraska each have won 81 percent of their home games over the past six years.
Stanford, Notre Dame and Louisville have all reached the Final Four in the past few years, with Louisville falling to Connecticut in the title game in April. The Irish lost to the Huskies in the national semifinals.
UConn didn’t bid on hosting a regional, as Geno Auriemma, along with many other coaches, was strongly against the idea of allowing schools to host.
“I don’t mind the first two rounds being on campus sites because, generally speaking, the higher seed is going to win those games no matter where they are being played,” he said last month. “But to have a game that is being played for the right to go to the Final Four, I just don’t think it’s right.”
The Huskies will host the opening two rounds, which begin March 22. Other campus sites that were chosen to host the first two rounds were Iowa State, LSU, North Carolina, Maryland, Texas A&M, Duke, Iowa, Tennessee, Kentucky, UCLA, Washington, Toledo, Penn State, Baylor and Purdue.
There was some talk at the women’s basketball summit last month that the top 16 teams in the tournament should host the opening two rounds. That didn’t happen.
“The committee continues to look for ways to create a better in-arena atmosphere for our student-athletes, improve attendance and enhance the broadcast look of the games,” said Carolayne Henry, chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and senior associate commissioner/senior woman administrator at the Mountain West Conference. “The 2014 championship presented us with a unique opportunity for our institutional hosts during the regional rounds of play. The committee is continuing to look at other host and format options that make sense for our championship going into 2015 and beyond.”
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