Florida State opens NCAA play at home vs. Arkansas-Little Rock

Florida State is in a familiar position, hosting the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years.

The Seminoles (25-6) were named the No. 3 seed in the Albany Region when the bracket was revealed Monday.

They will host No. 14 Arkansas-Little Rock (23-9) in the opening round Saturday at Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, Fla. The winner plays the winner between No. 11 Buffalo and No. 6 South Florida on Monday.

"Starting off at home, it always is a great feeling," senior forward Shakayla Thomas said. "It's a great opportunity for us and hopefully we come out and just play."

The Seminoles will play a Little Rock team that won the Sun Belt championship with a 54-53 victory over Texas State. Little Rock is making its fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and Florida State is going for the 13th time in the last 14 years under coach Sue Semrau.

"I just feel like (Florida State) is a place where it's expected," Semrau said. "We've built that culture and we want to be a staple in Tallahassee for the first and second rounds."

Little Rock last made the NCAA tournament in 2015. The Trojans played in Tempe, Ariz., as a No. 11 seed and beat No. 6 Texas A&M 69-60 in the first round. They then lost 57-54 to host Arizona State in the next round.

"I've experienced this before, but I haven't experienced as much love as there is here," senior forward Keanna Keys said. "It's overwhelming, but it's exciting. And I'm happy."

Junior forward Ronjanae DeGray was named to the Sun Belt All-Tournament team along with senior guard Monique Townson. This will be DeGray's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's a business trip," said DeGray, who had eight points and eight rebounds against Texas State. "It's another opportunity to play basketball and continue our season."

If Florida State advances to the Sweet 16 and beyond, in the same bracket is top-seeded UConn and No. 2 seed South Carolina, the defending national champion.

The Seminoles have made it to the Elite Eight three times under Semrau, most recently last season.

For now, Florida State is thinking about playing well at home starting Saturday against Little Rock.

"It's exciting. This is my first year going to the NCAA Tournament," said graduate transfer point guard A.J. Alix, who played previously at TCU. "To see that and to see that on top of that we're hosting, that's a dream come true."

The Seminoles enter the postseason with the eighth-best RPI in the country and the 12th-best strength of schedule. The Seminoles posted eight wins against the Top 55 RPI teams, highlighted by a road win over eventual ACC regular-season and postseason champion Louisville.

Florida State also was 11th in the final Associated Press poll of the season. The Seminoles join UConn, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Baylor, Louisville, Oregon State and Stanford as the only teams to have a Top 15 final AP rank in each of the last four seasons.