UConn unbeaten going into tourney


No. 1 seed Huskies going for 12th title

Associated Press

NEW YORK

UConn is back in a familiar place — the No. 1 overall seed in the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament.

Joining the Huskies as top seeds are Notre Dame, Louisville and Mississippi State.

The Huskies enter as the lone unbeaten team and will be vying for their 12th national championship. It’s the ninth time that UConn has entered the NCAAs undefeated, including last year when the Huskies went in as the overwhelming favorite before their 111-game winning streak ended with a loss to Mississippi State in the Final Four.

This year’s Final Four is in Columbus and will take place on March 30. The national championship game is on Sunday, April 1.

Defending national champion South Carolina and A’ja Wilson await as a possible Elite Eight matchup for UConn in the Albany Regional. The Gamecocks are the two-seed.

“What can you do? You have to beat some pretty good teams. Is it an impossible feat? Obviously not,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “We saw that last year. If we’re in the position where we have to play them, we’re going to play them. We’re going to give it our best shot and let the chips fall where they may.”

The Gamecocks lost by 25 at home against UConn on Feb. 1.

Florida State and Georgia are the other top seeds in the Huskies’ part of the bracket.

“Brackets are brackets. There are good teams in every bracket,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “There are great matchups in every bracket and it doesn’t really matter at this stage where you’re placed, what region, you’re going to have to beat some really good teams. The schedule we play, I knew we’d get somebody two or three that we already played. We know that.”

UConn, which has been a No. 1 seed every year since 2007, opens up against 16-seed Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) on Saturday morning. All of the top four teams in each region host the opening two rounds at home.

Like the Huskies, the Irish are a No. 1 seed again. Notre Dame has been a top seed the last seven years. This might be one of coach Muffet McGraw’s finest accomplishments as Notre Dame lost four pivotal players to injury, but only three games on the season. Two of those losses came to Louisville.

“A great reward for this team for what they’ve been through ... playing the toughest schedule and getting a No. 1 seed,” McGraw said. “I’m so proud of this group and what they have accomplished. (Being a No. 1) is quite an accomplishment for what we’ve been through all year long.”

The Irish are in the Spokane Regional and open up against Cal State Northridge on Friday. If Notre Dame advances, the Irish would head out west to potentially face No. 2 seed Oregon.

“We’ve never been in the West bracket. I love playing Friday at 5. That’s awesome,” McGraw said.

The Ducks could stay out west and play in Spokane, where coach Kelly Graves spent many years as Gonzaga’s coach. Ohio State and Texas A&M are the three and four seeds in that region.

Louisville won the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time this season. The Cardinals open up against Boise State and are one of eight ACC teams in the field. The Southeastern Conference has seven teams in the tournament, while the Pac-12 and the Big Ten have six.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “We’re excited to host the first two at home against two very good basketball teams. If we’re fortunate enough to advance, we get the opportunity to play in Lexington, which would be great for our fans.”

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