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Oklahoma Awarded No. 1 Seed in NCAA Championship for Fourth Straight Year

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A familiar program remained at the top, but two familiar programs were nowhere to be found.

Two-time defending NCAA champion Oklahoma was awarded the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Division I Championship for the fourth straight season.

But for the first time in NCAA tournament history, neither Arizona nor Michigan made the field. Arizona, which reached the Women’s College World Series last season, finished 29-25 this season and missed the tournament for the first time in 35 seasons. Michigan was 26-25 and didn’t make the field for the first time since 1994. Both programs have replaced legendary coaches in the last two years.

The NCAA bracket was unveiled on Sunday night during a Selection Show special on ESPN2. 

Regional play is scheduled for Friday-Sunday, with Super Regionals played May 25-27 and the Women’s College World Series from June 1-9 in Oklahoma City.

The top 16 seeds host regionals and the top 8 seeds will all have a chance to host games through the Super Regionals should they advance.

The top 8 seeds were: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Tennessee, No. 5 Alabama, No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Washington and No. 8 Duke.

Rounding out the top 16 seeds as regional hosts were: No. 9 Stanford, No. 10 LSU, No. 11 Arkansas, No. 12 Northwestern, No. 13 Texas, No. 14 Georgia, No. 15 Utah and No. 16 Clemson.

Regional play consists of 16 locations in a double-elimination format. The 16 regional winners advance to the Super Regionals to play a two-team, best-of-three series. The final eight teams punch a ticket to the Women’s College World Series.

Oklahoma is trying to become the second team in the NCAA era to win three straight national titles, joining UCLA (1988-90). The Sooners (52-1) enter the regionals riding a program-record 43-game winning streak, just five wins shy of breaking Arizona’s NCAA Division I record (1995-96).

Alabama (40-18) getting the No. 5 seed was a surprise. Looming over the Tide is the health status of ace Montana Fouts. The fifth-year senior All-American suffered a leg injury in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament and is scheduled to visit the team’s orthopedic doctor on Monday to determine the severity. NCAA committee chair Kelly Gatwood said Fouts’ status did not weigh into Alabama’s placement in the bracket and the Tide’s top 10 wins stood out.

Despite entering the tournament in a late-season slump, Oklahoma State didn’t fall out of the top 8. The Cowgirls have lost 11 of their last 13 games, including five straight. 

Duke will have a chance to host a Super Regional for the first time in the program’s six-year history. The Blue Devils hosted a regional for the first time last season as a No. 12 seed.

After beating UCLA to capture the inaugural Pac-12 Tournament title, Utah earned a regional hosting opportunity as the No. 15 seed. 

The SEC had 12 of its 13 teams make the field to lead all conferences. Mississippi State, which hosted a Super Regional last season, was the only SEC team that did not make the field.

Cal State Fullerton, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Texas State were the last four teams in the field.

Charlotte, Eastern Illinois, George Mason, North Carolina Central University, Northern Colorado, Northern Kentucky and Omaha will be making their first NCAA tournament appearances. 

Omaha was the final team to secure an automatic bid, beating South Dakota State 1-0 in a rain-delayed Summit League championship game on Sunday.

The top 8 seeds have all reached the WCWS only three times in the event’s history. Last year’s tournament featured five upsets in both the Regional and Super Regional rounds while three unseeded teams made it to Oklahoma City.

What does this year have in store? It should be fun to watch over the next few weeks.


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