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Syracuse Women's Basketball Team Earns No. 8 Seed, Faces Ninth-Seeded Nebraska on Friday

Syracuse takes on Nebraska on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Three seasons and three NCAA Tournaments.

That's been the track record so far for junior Brianna Butler, whose team clinched another bid to the NCAA Tournament, a program best third in a row.

A tournament appearance has become more expectation than celebration for Syracuse of late, but that doesn't stop Butler from taking in her latest Selection Monday like it was her first.

"It just feels like I’m a freshman all over again," Butler said.  "This is the NCAA Tournament.  To get called is like something you usually dream of. For it to be a reality for three years is good."

The Orange earned a No. 8 seed in the Greensboro region will face the ninth-seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers on Friday night in Columbia, South Carolina.  That game that will be televised on ESPN2.

"We’ve very excited for it," Alexis Peterson said.  "Nebraska is a great team. We look forward to this matchup."

The goal for Hillsman's program isn't just to reach the tournament, anymore. It's to win games there, or even advance past the first weekend.

"We know what it’s like to be in the NCAA Tournament now," Hillsman said. "I think that moving forward, the experience of knowing what to expect and knowing how you travel and what you need to do to prepare gives us a lot of confidence."

Hillsman and some of his players said they didn't check the projections for where Syracuse would fall in the tournament. That wasn't the case, however, for Cornelia Fondren. The junior guard saw ESPN's polls drop Syracuse from a projected six seed to a seven after the team's early exit in the ACC Tournament.

"I was thinking about it all day," Fondren said. "It was on my mind all day. I’m in class and I got to focus, but I wonder what our seed is. You got to focus in class, but it’s always in the back of your head."

The Orange lost to Creighton in the Round of 64 in 2013 and then beat the Chattanooga Mocs in its first round matchup last season. The victory over Chattanooga was Syracuse's first ever NCAA Tournament win after starting 0-5.

Syracuse center Briana Day said the team's hope this season is to take it a step further and set a new first, reaching the Sweet Sixteen.

"We just got to let people know who we are and put our names on the map and know who Syracuse is," Day said. "We have accomplished so much over the past couple of seasons."

First, Syracuse has to get past the Cornhuskers (21-10, 10-8 Big Ten) who reached their fourth straight NCAA Tournament, but play the Orange for the first time on Friday.

When Peterson was asked if she knew much about her opponent, she bluntly said, "No, not really."

But it's not much different than her Cornhusker opponents, many of whom couldn't even name what state Syracuse is in.

Hillsman, meanwhile, had a somewhat more detailed scouting report and said that the Cornhuskers are a good rebounding and 3-point shooting team.  Still, the 9th year head coach opted against making any bold guarantees like he did last season, when he predicted that the Orange would defeat the Mocs.

He did, however, dream of going even further.

"We are very excited," Hillsman said. "We understand that going to the tournament three years in a row is big. It’s what we want to do every year: get to the tournament and have a chance to win the national championship."