ORONO — The suspense was missing, but not the eagerness.

Because of an ESPN foul-up, the University of Maine already knew its opponent when the Black Bears arrived for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament selection show Monday afternoon.

The Black Bears (25-7) earned a 14th seed and will play at North Carolina State (26-5) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The NCAA pairings were supposed to be released during the selection show at 7 p.m. – at which time the Black Bears planned to be watching from a lounge in Alfond Arena. But because of a mix-up at ESPN, one of the network’s stations revealed the pairings Monday afternoon. The NCAA then moved the selection show up to 5 p.m.

“I was taking a nap and my phone was blowing up,” said Maine senior Parise Rossignol. “Coach was telling us we need to get (to Alfond) as soon as we could.

“I called my parents to let them know the show was at 5, and my dad was the one who told me we’re playing NC State.”

Senior Tanesha Sutton also had a nap interrupted.

“I found out five minutes before I got here,” she said. “It’s still exciting.”

The match-up represents a couple of firsts for Maine. It is the first time the Black Bears oppose a team in the NCAAs that they already faced during season – an 84-46 blowout by the Wolfpack on Dec. 15 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

And NC State is the first opponent that Maine has previously faced in the NCAAs. The Black Bears played the Wolfpack in the 1998 tournament, losing 89-64. That game was notable because it was the final appearance by Maine All-American Cindy Blodgett. The Black Bears’ point guard that season was sophomore Amy Vachon.

Vachon is now head coach of the Black Bears, directing her team to a second straight NCAA appearance. Last year, Maine was a 15th seed and routed at Texas, 83-54.

“I don’t know if anyone expected to win when we went down there,” Vachon said of the Texas game. “Everything was so new. It was kind of like, ‘We here and it’s great.’ I think our team is different this year.

“The expectation (now) is that we’re going to win. I don’t know if we will or not. But there is not an overwhelming feeling that we don’t belong.”

Despite the 38-point loss in Raleigh three months ago?

“It was bad,” Vachon said of that game. “It was one of those they-did-everything-right and we-did-everything-wrong kind of game.

“But part of that has to do with them – they are a really good team. I think we’ve improved a lot since then, so we’re excited to have a second shot at them.”

The Wolfpack shot 57 percent from the floor to 27 percent for Maine, and outrebounded the Black Bears, 50-26.

“That was a tough part of our schedule, for sure,” Rossignol said. “They didn’t get our best shot.”

That NC State defeat was the start of a four-game losing streak by Maine. The Black Bears were playing without 6-foot-1 Fanny Wadling, their one true post player. She averages 6.5 points a game, and leads the team with nine rebounds a game.

Since Wadling’s return for America East Conference games, Maine has gone 18-1. The one loss was to Hartford, which the Black Bears have defeated twice since, including a 68-48 win Friday in the conference title game.

NC State, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, is ranked No. 10 nationally in the latest AP poll.

Among common opponents, Maine defeated North Carolina, an NCAA tournament team that split two games with the Wolfpack this season. But Maine lost to to Duke and Tennessee-Chattanooga, two teams that NC State beat.

The Black Bears are 1-8 in previous NCAA games, the one win in 1999 when 10th-seeded Maine topped No. 7 Stanford, 60-58.

The four No. 1 seeds in this year’s tournament are Baylor, Mississippi State, Notre Dame and Louisville. Notably, powerhouse UConn is a No. 2 seed for the first time since 2006.

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