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NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Selection: South Carolina claims No. 1 seed in Stanford region

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South Carolina surprises by earning its first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament selection committee awarded South Carolina with the No. 1 seed in the Stanford region. The Gamecocks will face No. 16 Cal State Northridge in the opening round in Seattle, Wash. Should S.C. dispatch the Matadors, who will be massive underdogs, the winner of No. 8 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 9 Oregon State will meet the Gamecocks in the second round.

South Carolina began the year unranked and slowly climbed into the top four in the national polls and was projected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament during the final weeks of the season. But a pair of late-season losses did the Gamecocks no favors, and Carolina slid out of the top four overall teams. After clinching the SEC championship in the penultimate game of the regular season, Dawn Staley's squad still seemed to be in good shape to secure a No. 1 bid following a loss in the regular season finale against Tennessee. But the Gamecocks' 68-58 upset loss to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament semifinals made it seem unlikely that South Carolina would earn a top seed in one of the four regionals. The fact that it was the Volunteers who went on to win the tournament championship only made things worse.

Once Tennessee was announced as a No. 1 seed, it seemed all-but-certain that South Carolina was destined for the South Bend regional as a No. 2 seed. The announcement that the Gamecocks had earned the No. 1 seed in the Stanford regionals was one of the biggest surprises of the night.