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BYU, Utah NCAA women’s tournament first-round matchups revealed

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BYU’s Shaylee Gonzales drives against Utah’s Kennady “Lightning” McQueen at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Dec. 4, 2021. McQueen, the former Deseret News’ Ms. Basketball in 2020, leads the Utes into the 2022 Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament on March 2, 2022.

BYU Cougars guard Shaylee Gonzales (2) looks up at the hoop on a drive with Utah Utes guard Kennady McQueen (24) defending as Utah and BYU women compete in a basketball game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

While neither the BYU Cougars nor the Utah Utes received automatic bids to the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, both knew they’d be in the field of 68 because of the work they’d done throughout the season.

On Sunday, their first-round matchups and potential roads to a national title were revealed along with the rest of the 68-team bracket.

The Cougars received a 6 seed in the Wichita Region and will take on the 11-seed Villanova Wildcats on Saturday in Ann Arbor, Michigan, while the Utes received a 7 seed in the Spokane Region and will face the 10-seed Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday in Austin, Texas.

Should both teams advance, they would play their site host in the second round assuming those teams advance as well.

BYU would face the 3-seed Michigan Wolverines on their home floor, while the Utes would face the 2-seed Texas Longhorns on their home floor.

Michigan will face 14-seed American in the first round, while Texas will face 15-seed Fairfield.

For both the Cougars and Utes, their divergent play at the end of the season may have impacted where they ended up being seeded.

The Cougars are ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and were in contention for a top four seed and the chance to host the first two rounds before they lost to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the West Coast Conference championship game, while the Utes were pegged by observers as a likely 8-seed before they made a surprise run to the Pac-12 championship game.

Of note, and perhaps warning for BYU, Villanova was mentioned by women’s basketball legend Rebecca Lobo during the bracket reveal as a potentially dangerous team.