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    Third-Seeded Illini to Face SEMO in NCAA Tournament
    The Illini react to their No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and a first-round match-up with Southeast Missouri State

    The Illini react to their No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and a first-round match-up with Southeast Missouri State

    Nov. 6, 2006

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - With less suspense than a year ago, the Illini still were confronted with something of a surprise when they learned they were a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and will face Southeast Missouri State at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10 at the first and second rounds hosted by Saint Louis University. The Billikens will play Drake in the other first-round match at 7:30 p.m., as SLU won the Atlantic 10 tournament and Drake took home the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. SEMO is the Ohio Valley Conference tournament champion. The second-round match will be played Sunday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m.

    "I just can't say enough about how our non-conference schedule prepared us for the Big Ten competition and for the NCAA tournament," Illinois coach Janet Rayfield said. "We've shown that on a given day we can compete with anybody in the country. Now we're going to see if we're good enough to win one on Friday and go from there."

    The selection to the NCAA tournament is Illinois' fourth straight and sixth in seven years. The top 16 teams in the nation are seeded, meaning the Illini (14-7-0) were among the top 12 teams nationally, according to the selection committee. Illinois' best run in the tournament came in 2004, when it advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to No. 4 Santa Clara.

    "We're excited to go to SLU; we couldn't ask for a better seed," forward Ella Masar said. "It'll be great to play SEMO again after playing them two years ago, and if we face SLU in the second round, we'll have something to prove."

    The Orange and Blue are in a regional bracket with No. 1 seed Santa Clara (15-4-1), No. 2 seed Florida State (14-3-4) and No. 4 seed Oklahoma State (16-3-2). Illinois has faced eight teams selected to the NCAA tournament this season - No. 1 seed Texas, No. 2 seed Penn State, No. 2 seed Texas A&M, No. 4 seed Utah, Purdue, Michigan, Auburn and Saint Louis - compiling a 4-5-0 record against those teams. The full bracket is available at straight64_dyn/2006/DI.

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