CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Wes Moore described the past seven days as "nice and relaxing" knowing that his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team was safely in the NCAA Tournament field.
But the veteran coach also admitted that no matter how many times he's been through it, watching the brackets revealed live on ESPN's selection show always brings back some butterflies.
"It's been more laid back the last week because we didn't know who we were playing, so you're not game-planning for someone in practice," Moore said. "But once you sit down on Monday night, you start to worry about matchups and locations."
Moore was able to let out a sigh of relief on both counts when the rest of the gathered crowd at Big River Grille in downtown Chattanooga rose to its feet as UTC's name appeared on the screen halfway through the nationally-televised hour-long bracket reveal special.
The Lady Mocs (29-3) garnered a No. 11 seed in the Norfolk Regional and will open against No. 6 Nebraska in Saturday's opening round. It's the second-highest seed in program history, following the No. 10 seeded team in 2004 that pulled off a first-round upset of No. 7 Rutgers.
"We didn't know what to expect. Some of the projected brackets had us a bit lower than that, so we're very excited with what we got and hopefully we can take advantage of it," said junior forward Taylor Hall, who will be playing in her first NCAA Tournament.
Moore wasn't as worried about the seed as he was the location.
He wanted more than anything to avoid an true road game in the opening round game against a host school, and his wish came true when UTC was sent to College Station, Texas, to face the Cornhuskers (23-8).
"I'm excited we're playing the first game at least on a neutral court. That was big," said Moore, whose team is unbeaten this season in home and neutral site games. "There are a lot of teams hosting that could have been in that 5 or 6 seed area, so that worked out really well."
Chattanooga will take a 19-game winning streak into its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010, and a win over Nebraska in the opening round will set a new school-record for wins in a single-season.
"We've accomplished a lot already this season, but we'd like to improve on it and continue playing," said Hall.
The 74-69 upset of Rutgers is UTC's lone win in ten previous NCAA Tournaments. Wes Moore will be making his ninth Big Dance trip as the Lady Mocs' head coach, and still stands as the only coach in NCAA history to take a team to the national tournament in the Division I, II and III ranks.
Chattanooga has played Nebraska just once, a 79-64 home win for the Lady Mocs on November 21, 1979. This year's Cornhuskers finished the regular season ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press Top 25, and advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
"I think this team has a really great opportunity and a really good chance to make a statement in this tourney," said junior post Ashlen Dewart, who will also be making her first tournament appearance. "I just can't wait to get to Texas and play with my team."
Tipoff is set for Saturday, March 23, at 6:30 p.m. (E.D.T.) at the Reed Arena on the campus of Texas A&M. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and online on ESPN3.
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