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W. Basketball: Stanford lands No. 1 seed

Stanford women’s basketball earned its second straight No. 1 seed on Selection Monday, as the No. 2 Cardinal was given top billing in the Spokane regional of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

“I’m really excited for our team to be selected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer. “As a team, we know we can only play six more games together. We want to play six more games together, and do the absolute best that we can.”

The Pac-10 Champion Cardinal, who will also host the first two rounds, opens against No. 16 seed UC-Davis on Friday. Like many other teams in the Spokane bracket, the Aggies are a team Stanford has some knowledge of—the Cardinal downed them, in Davis, 76-51 last season.

“There is some familiarity in our bracket. Fresno is in our bracket, we played them. UCLA. We played Iowa last year. Gonzaga. Davis, we played last year,” VanDerveer said. “I think that does help. To me, it helps to see us play against them, to judge the quickness and size and see how we move—things that work, things that don’t work. We’ve had great battles with Davis.”

Stanford also played the second seeded squad in the Spokane regional, Xavier, earlier this year at Maples, as well as in the Elite Eight of last year’s tournament.

Baylor, Tennessee and Connecticut grabbed the other top seeds and VanDerveer felt that, unlike last season, when the Huskies were the overwhelming favorite to win the title, there was no front-runner in this year’s pool. All of the top four teams have lost to at least one of the other school in the group.

“I don’t think that, in any way, there is a clear-cut favorite. [Connecticut] has a great team, but I think that it’s going to be a very exciting tournament because there’s not a clear-cut favorite. We’re not a clear-cut favorite, Tennessee is not a clear-cut favorite, Baylor’s not, and neither is Connecticut,” she said.

Also announced Monday was the final ballot for the Wooden Award, given to the top player in Division I women’s college basketball. The Cardinal placed three players in the 20-person field: junior Nneka Ogwumike and seniors Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen. Stanford had the most representatives of any school. The award will be presented on April 8 at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

First, though, the Cardinal has business to take care of: Stanford fell, by six points, in the national championship game last year after a second-half surge by Connecticut. The Cardinal’s attempt to take home its first title since 1992 will begin on March 19 at 3:30 p.m. when Stanford will meet the Davis at Maples Pavilion.