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March 20, 2005

AP Preview

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The No. 6 seed Virginia women’s basketball team faces host and No. 3 seed Minnesota in NCAA Tournament Second Round action on Monday, March 21 at Williams Arena. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. CST (9:30 p.m. Eastern) on espn2.

The winner between the Cavaliers (21-10) and 12th-ranked Golden Gophers (25-7) will advance the Tempe Regional next weekend in Arizona.

“We’re obviously very proud and pleased to be here,” UVa head coach Debbie Ryan said in the pre-game press conference on Sunday afternoon. “It was a hard-fought battle last night (against Old Dominion), and we’re looking forward to being able to play Minnesota here in their arena. This has been a great experience for my team and for the whole program. We’ve really enjoyed our stay in Minnesota.”

In the midst of its 21st trip to the NCAA Tournament, Virginia is making its 15th appearance in the second round where the Cavaliers stand 12-2. The last time UVa advanced to the second round was in 2003 when the No. 8 seed Cavaliers beat No. 9 seed Illinois, 72-56, to face host and No. 1 seed Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.

“We know it’s going to be a difficult task tomorrow playing Minnesota, because they’re a very formidable team,” Ryan added. “They’re very physical inside and outside. We match up fairly well in terms of the outside game. I don’t know if anyone in the country matches up that well inside against Minnesota, but we’ll do the best we can.”

Virginia will use its strong post players, led by senior Brandi Teamer (Joliet, Ill.), to handle the Gophers.

“She’s made a huge difference on the inside for us,” Ryan said of Teamer. “She changed the complexion of the game totally. She really forced Old Dominion to change the way they were playing.”

Virginia and the No. 12 Golden Gophers have only met once in series history. In the championship game of the 2003 Cavalier Classic (last season), the No. 7/6 Gophers captured the tourney title with a 73-53 decision over host UVa. But Ryan is also familiar with UM’s star center Janel McCarville, whom she coached during the 2003 Pan-American Games.

“She was a strong inside presence for us,” Ryan said. “She was someone that we used basically to overpower the opponent inside, and she’s an excellent passer.”

“I think McCarville is a really difficult player (to defend),” said senior Jocelyn Logan-Friend (Cheverly, Md.). “It will be a decent match-up. I definitely like the challenge. I look forward to guarding her, and we’ll see what happens.”

Virginia will also have to contend with a sold-out hometown Minnesota crowd.

“It will be a great experience,” said junior Tiffany Sardin (Chicago, Ill.). “Playing in front of 14,000 people will get you pumped up. They will have motivation from their fans, and we are motivated to play well.”

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