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WOMEN'S TOURNEY TO OPEN AMID CALLS FROM COACHES FOR EXPANSION

The first round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament will feature a half-dozen rookies.

All six tourney newcomers - Creighton, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, UC Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Vermont - will play their openers on Wednesday.In the West, No. 21 Creighton (27-3) plays Long Beach State (21-9), Wisconsin (20-8) meets Montana (22-6), No. 25 UC Santa Barbara (26-4) faces No. 22 Houston (22-7) and Santa Clara (20-9) visits California (20-8).

Notre Dame (14-16) will meet UCLA (19-9) in the Midwest and No. 25 Vermont (29-0) will play at No. 16 George Washington (24-6) in the East.

Coaches of the four top seeds in the 48-team tournament say the field should be expanded. "I would not have called for it a few years ago, but there are a lot of great teams that were left out this time," said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, whose team is seeded first in the Mideast.

Judith Holland, head of the NCAA selection committee, said the group has been considering a larger field for some time.

"We've been collecting data for the last four years, and we think we have the final keys this year, with so many teams not in that could have also been selected," Holland said.

In other first-round games in the East, it's Tennessee-Chattanooga (18-11) at Clemson (20-9), St. Peter's (24-6) at Connecticut (22-10), and Old Dominion (20-10) at North Carolina (21-8).

In the Mideast, it's Southern Mississippi (21-9) at Rutgers (20-10), Tennessee Tech (21-8) at Alabama (22-6), Louisiana Tech (20-9) at Northern Illinois (17-13), and Toledo (25-5) at Providence (21-8).

Other Midwest games are Kansas (25-5) at SW Missouri State (27-2), Arizona State (20-8) at DePaul (20-9) and Southern Illinois (22-7) at Colorado (22-8).