The new format for the NCAA's Division I women's soccer tournament has its benefits and disadvantages, as the locals discovered when the 64-team pairings were unveiled Monday.
Three schools -- No. 4 UCLA, No. 8 Pepperdine and No. 24 UC Irvine -- were awarded first-round home games. But only one Southern California side can get to the quarterfinals.
The biggest matchup, from our perspective, pits Big West Conference tournament champion Long Beach State (15-5-1) at West Coast Conference co-champion Pepperdine (15-1-4), one of four national No. 3 seeds. Kickoff is Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Pacific 12 runner-up UCLA (15-1-3), which is seeded second in the same bracket, will be home Saturday night against New Mexico (12-4-4), and Big West regular-season titlist UC Irvine (14-4-2) is home against WCC co-champ San Diego (12-7-0) on Friday at 7 p.m.
The format this season calls for 32 opening-round home games, with the winners advancing into eight second- and third-round quartets. Previously, the tournament opened with 16 first- and second-round quartets.
The winners of the three SoCal matchups will join Miami (9-7-1) and Alabama (10-8-3) in a quartet Nov. 18 and 20, likely at UCLA if the Bruins win.
Receiving No. 1 seedings are top-ranked Stanford (19-0-1) and three Atlantic Coast Conference teams, none of them North Carolina -- it's Duke (17-3-1), Wake Forest (14-3-4) and Florida State (14-6-1). The Tar Heels (11-5-1), winners of 21 of 30 top-tier national titles, are a No. 3 seed.
There are two Pac-12 vs. WCC matchups: Cal at Santa Clara and Portland at Oregon State.
DIVISION III: Redlands' men and Cal Lutheran's women will stage first-round quartets in the D3 tournament. Redlands' features thee SoCal schools.
The Bulldogs (18-3-1), 15th in the D3 poll, take on No. 20 Pacific Lutheran (15-3-0) in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (14-5-1) taking on Chapman (11-4-3) in the second game. The winners meet Sunday.
Cal Lutheran (20-1-1) will open Saturday against UC Santa Cruz (7-6-2), which it's beaten twice this year. The winner faces the Puget Sound (14-3-2)-Concordia Morehead (12-3-5) victor Sunday.
The Division II men's and women's rankings will be out later Monday afternoon.