- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska coach Connie Yori and her players insist Fresno State is the only thing on their minds going into the NCAA tournament.

After all, the Cornhuskers need two wins to set up a possible matchup with defending national champion Connecticut at Pinnacle Bank Arena in the Lincoln Regional.

Yori said the potential for the Huskers to play in the Sweet 16 on their home court, likely against undefeated UConn, is a wonderful carrot to dangle in front of her players.

“If we can find a way to win two games, we could come back here and play in a phenomenal atmosphere,” Yori said Monday night after the tournament bracket was announced. “People like to chalk it up. It’s not automatic. You’ve got to beat two teams that are playing good basketball this time of year, and it’s not easy, but it’s an opportunity that not everybody has.”

The Huskers (25-6), who won the Big Ten tournament championship, earned a No. 4 seed and will meet No. 13 Fresno State (22-10) on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. If they win, they would have to beat No. 5 North Carolina State (25-7) or No. 12 BYU (26-6) to play at home the following week.

“Oh, we want it bad. We want it real bad,” guard T’eara Laudermill said. “We know how it’s going to be a big deal if we make it that far, to play here.”

About 500 fans gathered with players and coaches at the arena to watch as the bracket was unveiled. The Huskers are in the tournament for the third straight year and fifth time since 2007. They lost to Duke in the Sweet 16 a year ago.

Fresno State, which won the Mountain West Conference tournament, is in the NCAAs for the seventh straight year. The Bulldogs have won eight straight games and are led by their two seniors, Bree Farley and Taylor Thompson.

Other than the fact the Bulldogs like to shoot 3-pointers - they attempt 22 a game - Yori knows nothing about them. The teams have never met.

“It’s like a blank slate,” she said. “I think it’s kind of fun to play different teams and try to figure how to dissect what they do - what can you take advantage of, where you find weaknesses and where are they going to find weaknesses.”

Jordan Hooper, the coaches’ pick for Big Ten player of the year, said it did not go unnoticed by her or her teammates that overall No. 1 seed and unbeaten UConn was in the same regional.

“If you don’t take care of business at the beginning, then you don’t even get to play them,” Hooper said. “But, yeah, that’s a whole opportunity that we get to play them at our home court. I think that would be awesome.”

So does Laudermill.

“Everybody heard ‘UConn, UConn,’” she said. “Again, take it a step at a time and we’ll be happy if we get to UConn.”