Monday, March 15, 2004

Women: UConn passed over for a top spot

Tennessee top overall seed; Huskies fall to No. 2 in East

The Associated Press

Tennessee earned the top overall seed in the NCAA women's basketball tournament Sunday, but two straight national championships weren't enough to get a No. 1 for Connecticut.

The Dance (Index)
Seeds: UK 1, UC 4, XU 7
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Bracket breakdown
Women: UConn passed over for a top spot
Printable bracket (PDF):
Men | Women

Local teams:
Cincinnati | Opp.

Xavier | Opp.
Kentucky | Opp.
Women's NIT: Miami, Xavier and UC in

Coach Pat Summitt's Lady Vols, winners of a record six national titles, were made the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional. Also placed at the top of the brackets were Penn State (East), Duke (Mideast) and Texas (West).

Tennessee, Duke and Texas, all of whom won or shared their regular-season conference championships, had been considered locks to be seeded No. 1. Penn State grabbed the last top spot after playing a challenging schedule, and the Lady Lions face an equally challenging road to the Final Four in New Orleans.

They could end up facing second-seeded Connecticut in the East Regional final at the Hartford Civic Center, which is UConn's second home court. The Huskies are 37-2 at the Civic Center since the 1996-97 season.

This is the first time that UConn, which has won three of the last four NCAA titles, has not been a No. 1 seed since 1998, when as a No. 2 it was upset by North Carolina State in the East Regional final.

Connecticut had appeared to be in line for a No. 1 seed until losing to Villanova in its next-to-last regular-season game, and then falling to Boston College in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.

But it was a banner year for the Big East overall because the league got a record-tying eight teams in the NCAA Tournament. UConn will be joined by Boston College, Miami, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Villanova, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

The Southeastern Conference had eight teams in 1999 and 2002. Seven SEC teams made it this time: Tennessee, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi and Vanderbilt.

The Big 12 also had seven and the Big Ten six.

First-round games will be played next Saturday or Sunday at 16 sites. Those winners play March 22 or 23.

Texas is a No. 1 seed for the first time since 1988 and Penn State for the first time since 1994. Duke earned its fourth straight No. 1 seed but is still looking for its first national title. Tennessee, which has survived the midseason loss of starting point guard Loree Moore to a knee injury, is a No. 1 for the 15th time in 17 years.

"We're really pleased with our adjustment, both offensively and defensively," Summitt said. "Obviously, we wish Loree was with us, but I think everyone has taken on a lot more responsibility since the injury occurred."

Tennessee (26-3), ranked fifth in the latest Associated Press poll, won the regular-season SEC title at 14-0, then stumbled in the conference tournament, losing to Georgia in overtime in the semifinals.

But the Lady Vols played the nation's toughest schedule and have 18 victories over teams that made the NCAA Tournament, including a win at top-ranked Duke.

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Which Xavier win was bigger: UC when the Bearcats were ranked No. 1 or No. 1 St. Joseph's?