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BGSU to face Michigan State in Louisville

BOWLING GREEN - With all eyes locked on the television hanging on a wall inside a spacious room on the third floor of the Sebo Center, a sudden roar of cheers erupted when it was announced Bowling Green State University would face Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA women's baskeball tournament.

The Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament champion Falcons (27-6) watched the selections show together and found out they will travel to Louisville to play the Spartans (22-9) at noon on Saturday.

The tournament selection remains special for coach Curt Miller, even though he has led the Falcons to NCAA tournaments in four of the last six years.

BG secured the bid by defeating Toledo 62-53 in the MAC tournament final.

"It never gets old ," said Miller.

"When you get to see your name up there, you feel like a little kid and it's Christmas morning and you don't know what's the present you're opening.

"It's a feeling of opening a present when you see your name and you get to know who you're playing, and where you're playing brings all the emotions together."

BG, winners of eight straight games, received a No. 12 seed. Michigan State is seeded fifth. The two schools met two seasons ago in a National Invitation Tournament game in which the Spartans prevailed 74-66 in East Lansing, Mich.

MSU, which finished second in the Big Ten behind Ohio State with a 12-6 mark, is led by Allyssa DeHaan, who averages 10.9 points per game.

Coach Suzy Merchant is in her third season with the Spartans and has led them to NCAA appearances two times, including a trip to the Sweet 16 last year.

BG's last trip to the NCAA tournament occurred in 2007 when the Falcons made a memorable run to the Sweet 16. The lone Falcon from that team is senior Tara Breske, who was a freshman who saw limited playing time during that tournament appearance.

Breske, a 6-foot senior center, is excited about returning to the tournament. The Bedford graduate is also looking forward to playing a team from her home state.

"Right now, I'm just on cloud nine and so excited for the opportunity to be playing Michigan State and to try to make a run," Breske said. "I've grown up, obviously, a Michigan and Michigan State fan, so it's even sweeter now to be playing against them. We have an opportunity."

Two-time MAC player of the year Lauren Prochaska, who was this year's MAC tournament most valuable player, couldn't contain her excitement when the pairing appeared.

"I was definitely really excited and cheering and happy to see our names pop up and to know that we're up on the screen," Prochaska said. "It's fun, and for most of us, it's our first time, so it's a great feeling that we'd never experienced before."

Prochaska, who leads the Falcons in scoring (17.9 ) and rebounding (5.7), anticipates a challenging contest.

"They're a great team," Prochaska said. "A lot of us have seen them play on TV, and we've seen how good they are, and they're really good and very well-coached, so it'll be a tough matchup."

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.

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