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Tampa, Fla. • A year ago, BYU reached the Sweet 16 as a No. 12 seed, knocking off fifth-seeded N.C. State and then fourth-seeded Nebraska on its home court.
So Cougars coach Jeff Judkins has no expectations of surprising anyone as a No. 14 seed, facing third-seeded Louisville on Saturday night.
"I guarantee you [Louisville coach Jeff Walz] has used that all week, saying 'Hey, they beat North Carolina State in our league last year. They're not afraid of you,' " Judkins said. "My players ... they know if they come out and play their game and do the things they need to do, we're going to be hard to beat."
BYU (23-9) got a lucky break in the bracket of the field's top 16 seeds, Louisville is the only team not playing on its home court, because the KFC YUM! Center is hosting men's NCAA games this weekend, sending them to sixth-seeded South Florida. The Cardinals (25-6) were 16-1 at home this season, so it's a legitimate advantage for the Cougars to get them at a neutral site.
BYU hasn't beaten a team with an RPI higher than 40 this season, and Louisville's RPI is 7, with only one loss all season to an unranked opponent. So a win Saturday would be huge, but the Cougars have faced similar competition this season. In November, they played Oregon State also now a No. 3 seed and lost by only 10 points.
Last year's postseason run which ended with a loss to eventual champion Connecticut has given the Cougars a confidence few No. 14 seeds have.
"It changes your perspective, because you've played against these top-seeded teams and you've been successful," said junior Lexi Eaton, the team's leading scorer at 20.7 points per game.
To say the Cougars have Cinderella in their blood is no exaggeration senior forward Morgan Bailey, the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, is the niece of former Jazz star Thurl Bailey, who led N.C. State as a No. 6 seed to a national championship in 1983.
"They call it March Madness for a reason," said Bailey, who has averaged 17.3 points and a team-best 10.5 rebounds per game. "Put together one good game and you can upset a really good team. We're excited to go."
Another boost to their confidence came Thursday, as they watched a pair of No. 14 seeds in the men's tournament UAB and Georgia State pull off the same kind of upset they have a chance at on Saturday, and like the ones they enjoyed last year.
"We take comfort in seeing upsets, and us being a part of upsets last year as well," Bailey said.
BYU vs. Louisville
At the Sun Dome, Tampa, Fla.
Tipoff • 2 p.m. MDT
TV • ESPN2 Radio • BYU radio
Records • BYU 23-9, Louisville 25-6
Series • Louisville, 1-0
Last meeting • Louisville, 80-54 (2007)
About the Cougars • They are the No. 14 seed in the Albany Regional. … They won the West Coast Conference tournament to secure an NCAA bid. … They are led by junior G/F Lexi Eaton. She averages 20.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. .. Senior F Morgan Bailey averages 17.3 points and 10.5 rebounds.
About the Cardinals • They are the No. 3 seed in the region. … They come off a 66-51 loss to Florida State in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. … Their top scorers are freshman F Mariya Moore (13.8), freshman F Myisha Hines-Allen (11.5) and senior F Sara Hammond (10.8). … They average 73.4 points per game but shoot only 32 percent from the 3-point line.