The one and only college basketball team from Illinois -- women or men -- to make the NCAA Tournament will also get to start its postseason journey in Illinois.
The DePaul women learned Monday night, along with the hundreds of fans who watched ESPN's selection show with them on a jumbo screen at McGrath-Phillips Arena in Lincoln Park, that they earned a No. 7 seed and will open first-round play Saturday at the Allstate Arena against No. 10 BYU.
BYU, 26-6 and making its first tournament appearance since 2007, punched its ticket by winning the West Coast Conference tournament championship last week.
DePaul, an at-large selection from the rigorous Big East that played most of the season with a seven-player rotation because of injuries to three starters and multiple reserves, sports a 22-10 record. The Blue Demons will be playing in their 10th straight NCAA Tournament. They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen last season.
"It never gets old seeing your name come up on the big screen," said DePaul senior guard Deanna Ortiz, a Chicago native who is especially happy about staying at home for the first and second rounds.
"For me, it's great to be 4-for-4 in NCAA Tournaments, and there have been plenty of others before me. We're keeping that long streak alive, and we are so excited that we get to start off here.
"My whole family will be able to come out and watch, and we'll also be able to have all of our home fans come out to support us. I'm really looking forward to that because our fans do such a good job. And now that they don't have to travel far I'm sure they'll travel well."
DePaul is part of the Des Moines Region, which also includes 34-0 Baylor, the No. 1 overall seed in the entire field. The other No. 1 seeds are Notre Dame, Connecticut and Stanford.
The other two teams that will open in Chicago are No. 2 Tennessee (24-8) and No. 15 Tennessee-Martin (23-8). That game will tip off Saturday at 3:10 p.m. The DePaul-BYU game will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of that game.
The second-round game at Allstate will be Monday night.
This tournament could be one of the last for legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who announced in the fall that she was diagnosed with early onset dementia. She has taken a less active role on the sideline this season.
"With what she's done for the game, Coach Summitt deserves to be playing in a major media market like Chicago," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "We're thrilled to have her, and we're just so thrilled to make it. It's just so hard to do, to get one of the 33 at-large spots. You can never take it for granted."
For ticket information, call the DePaul ticket office at (773) 325-SLAM or contact any Ticketmaster outlet.