LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 18 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team has been selected as an at-large team in the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, earning the Wildcats’ 10th appearance in the last 11 tournaments. Fourth-seeded Kentucky (17-8) will face 13th-seeded Idaho State (22-3) in the first round on Sunday inside the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will air live on ESPN at 2 p.m. ET.
The Wildcats earned a No. 4 seed in the event, marking the fourth time the Wildcats have been a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This is the 11th time UK has been a top-four seed in the event and the first since 2017. Kentucky is 5-3 all-time as a four seed with an Elite Eight and two second-round appearances. UK was last a four seed in 2017 when they hosted the first and second rounds in Memorial Coliseum, defeating Belmont to open the tournament before a loss to Ohio State.
Kentucky is 21-15 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, making its first appearance in the first season under head coach Kyra Elzy. Elzy becomes the first UK women’s basketball head coach to take the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament in her first season at the helm. The best finishes for UK came in 2013, 2012, 2010 and 1982 when the Wildcats fell one win shy of the Final Four. This is Kentucky’s 16th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since falling in the second round to NC State back in Raleigh, N.C. in 2019. The Wildcats are 12-3 all-time in first-round games and have won 11 straight.
The Wildcats enter the event with a 17-8 record and ranked No. 18 in the final Associated Press Top 25 that was released earlier Monday. The Wildcats have won five games against ranked opponents this season and have four wins against teams ranked in the top 25 of the NCAA NET rankings. The Wildcats are one of 10 teams in the nation to have four or more wins against the top 25 NET teams. Overall, UK is 6-5 against teams that make up the 64-team NCAA Tournament field.
Kentucky has been led this season by junior guard Rhyne Howard, who is the only player in the nation averaging over 20 points per game with at least 7.3 rebounds per game, 70 assists and 50 steals. The native of Cleveland, Tennessee, is leading Kentucky in scoring, rebounding and assists, while she sits second in steals and third in blocks. Howard has hit a team-best 49 3-pointers. Half of her 22 games played this season are against ranked opponents and in those games Howard is averaging an impressive 22.3 points per game with 6.7 rebounds per game and hitting 47.1 percent from the field with 3.0 assists per game and 28 steals.
Idaho State was the regular-season and tournament champions from the Big Sky. The Bengals are averaging 72.2 points per game this season while limiting opponents to 58.9 points per game. Idaho State is hitting 6.4 3s per game and has a +5.0 rebounding margin with a +0.8 turnover margin. Dora Goles leads the team with 12.4 points per game and has hit 44 3s, while Diaba Konate is averaging 11.7 points per game with 104 assists. Estefania Ors and Callie Bourne are both averaging 10 points per game with Bourne leading the team with 8.4 rebounds per game.
Kentucky was one of seven Southeastern Conference teams to be awarded a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Monday evening. South Carolina earned an automatic bid to the tournament after winning the conference tournament, and is a No. 1 seed in the Hemisfair Regional. Texas A&M, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas and Alabama are also going to the Big Dance.
San Antonio and the surrounding region will play host to the 2021 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. Attendance for the first two rounds will be limited to teams and team guests. For ticket information regarding the Sweet Sixteen and on, please contact the UK Ticket Office at 800-928-2287
The first round will be played Sunday, March 21 and Monday, March 22 at various locations around San Antonio, including the Alamodome, Bill Greehney Arena, Frank Erwin Center, University Events Center and UTSA Convocation Center.
The second round will be Tuesday, March 23 and Wednesday, March 24 at the Alamodome, Bill Greehney Arena and UTSA Convocation Center. From the Sweet 16 through the national championship game, all games will be played in the Alamodome. The Sweet 16 takes place Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28, followed by the Elite Eight on Monday, March 29 and Tuesday, March 30. The Final Four begins Friday, April 2 with the national championship game on Sunday, April 4.
For the 19th consecutive year, an ESPN channel will broadcast all 63 games of the NCAA Tournament taking place March 21 through April 4. Viewers can expect games to be played in the traditional championship broadcast windows, with every game of all rounds carried in full national on ESPN networks. This year will mark the 26th straight year (since 1996) that ESPN has served as the championship’s exclusive television home. All games will be available online via the ESPN app.