Duke was bracketed just about where everybody expected for the NCAA womens basketball tournament.
North Carolina got a pleasant surprise.
The No. 5-ranked Blue Devils (30-2), carrying the automatic berth from their ACC tournament title, got the No.2 seed in the Norfolk Region and will host Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion and No.15 seed Hampton (28-5) on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The No. 13-ranked Tar Heels (28-6), who were the ACC runners-up, received the No.3 seed in the Bridgeport Region and will take on No.14 seed and America East champion Albany (27-3) on Sunday at 2:40 p.m. in Newark, Del.
The Duke-Hampton winner will advance to next Tuesdays 7 p.m. game against the survivor of Sundays second game in Durham between No.7 seed Oklahoma State (21-10) and No.10 seed DePaul (21-11).
The UNC-Albany winner will face either No.6 seed and Colonial Athletic Association champion Delaware (30-3) or No. 11 seed West Virginia (17-13) next Tuesday night on the Blue Hens court.
Duke and UNC are the only N.C. teams in the 64-team field, which will wind down to its Final Four on April 7 and 9 in New Orleans.
N.C. State (16-16) was expected to receive a berth in the Womens National Invitation Tournament when the pairings came out late Monday night.
Three other ACC teams received at-large bids. Maryland (24-7) got a No.4 seed in the Bridgeport region and will square off with No.13 seed Quinnipiac (30-2) at home on Saturday at 11:15 a.m.
Florida State (22-9) got a No.8 seed in the Oklahoma City Region and will take on No.9 seed and Ivy League champion Princeton (22-6) on Sunday at 4:10 p.m. in Waco, Texas.
Miami (21-10), which might have been a bubble team, got the No.8 seed in the Norfolk Region and will visit No.9 seed Iowa (20-12) on Sunday at around 7 p.m.
The No.1 seeds, as expected, are Baylor (32-1) in the Oklahoma City Region, Notre Dame (31-1) in the Norfolk Region, Connecticut (29-4) in the Bridgeport Region and Stanford (31-2) in the Spokane Region.
Duke is hosting Hampton in a first-round game for the second time in four years. Senior Allison Vernerey is the only remaining Duke player from the squad that routed the Pirates 72-37 in 2010.
We just want to play, Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. Of course its a great privilege and honor to host, because weve done that before and we hope to do it again. But the reality of this time of year is urgency.
Hampton I know because weve played them before. Theyre very well-coached a very good team, athletic and quick. Its an excellent game for us to get after and defend I can already feel the one-on-one stops.
The Blue Devils will be playing without All-ACC junior point guard Chelsea Gray, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during a Feb. 17 win against Wake Forest. Freshman Alexis Jones has stepped in ably, earning MVP honors in the ACC tournament.
I think the two-seed is what we expected, junior guard Tricia Liston said. Weve had a lot of hard practices, going up and down and playing five-on-five against each other, and really getting back into shape and conditioning and working on defense and rebounding.
The Tar Heels are happy to be back in the field following their omission by the selection committee last time.
Our kids are playing well and theyre excited to be in the tournament, said coach Sylvia Hatchell, who has 907 career wins and took the Tar Heels to the NCAA title in 1994.
I really wanted a three-seed because thats the seed we had when we won the national championship. You cant say enough about the leadership of our crew by our seniors Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Krista Gross and Waltiea Rolle. Weve had a great year, but were not finished.