Clemson women earn first NCAAs bid since 2002


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(Lynn Hey-USA TODAY Sports)
(Lynn Hey-USA TODAY Sports)

The Clemson women's basketball team's long-awaited NCAA Tournament return was cut short by a few hours on Monday.

In an announcement moved up by two hours, Clemson officially picked up its expected first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002 in 1-seed Mississippi State's regional pod, meeting 8-seed South Dakota on Friday (7 p.m./ESPN2). The teams that advance to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 will play in Portland, Oregon and the Final Four will be in Tampa, Florida.

A graphics snafu by ESPN looked to reveal that same pairing this afternoon ahead of a scheduled 7 p.m. announcement on one of its networks. ESPN and the NCAA then confirmed that mistake and moved up the reveal.

The Tigers made marked improvement under first-year and ACC coach of the year Amanda Butler, going 19-12 overall and 9-7 in ACC play after finishing 1-15 in the conference last season.

South Dakota went 28-5 and was ranked by the Coaches Poll before falling in its conference tournament last week.

Host Mississippi State (30-2) is ranked No. 4 nationally going into the tournament. They play 16-seed Southern (20-12) on Friday.

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