GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — In terms of seeding, the odds are against the East Carolina women’s basketball team as they head into their first round of the NCAA Tournament.

But if the 13th-seeded Pirates hadn’t already made a habit of defying the odds this season, they’d be watching March Madness at home this weekend instead of traveling to Austin to take on the fourth-seeded Texas Longhorns.

After being picked to finish last in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll, the Pirates did the opposite in the conference tournament. Entering the tournament as the No. 3 seed, ECU knocked out No. 6 Tulane and No. 2 Memphis to set up a championship game matchup with No. 4 Houston, just a couple weeks after the Pirates beat the Cougars 88-83 in a triple-overtime thriller.

Defining moments so far this season for ECU women’s basketball

Led by AAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player Synia Johnson and Farmville Central graduate Amiya Joyner, the Pirates prevailed again, 46-44, to win their first conference title since 2007.

The Pirates also locked in an automatic bid to the Big Dance, and on Sunday night they found out who awaits them.

The Pirates and Longhorns will clash at 10 p.m. Saturday at Moody Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. The winner will face either No. 5 Louisville or No. 12 Drake in the second round.

“I was really surprised,” ECU head coach and AAC Coach of the Year Kim McNeill said after the team’s Selection Sunday watch party. “I thought we were going down the street to either Durham or Chapel Hill. But Texas is an unbelievable team, another defensive-minded team, so it’ll be a good matchup.”

The Pirates are now locked in on the Longhorns, who are 25-9 overall and finished 14-4 in Big 12 Conference play this season. Before getting back to business, the Pirates spent some time celebrating their conference title. Fans welcomed the team back to Greenville on Friday night, and McNeill and Johnson threw out the first pitches for ECU’s baseball game against Liberty on Saturday. That led up to the watch party Sunday at TowneBank Tower.

“Pirate Nation has been unbelievable,” McNeill said. “The amount of texts, social media. This is like a dream come true. I’m so happy for the team, I’m so happy for ECU athletics, I’m so happy for Pirate Nation.”

So what needs to happen for ECU to again defy the odds and keep their March Madness dreams alive this weekend?

“We’ve just got to keep doing what we do,” Johnson said. “Playing ECU defense, continuing to fight and play hard.”